Explore ‘Immunology heroes and villains’ at the annual Day of Immunology

Researcher BDI

Since 2005, The Day of Immunology has celebrated and explored the highly sophisticated and equally mysterious human immune system. The complex system guards against infection, but can also attack the body it’s designed to protect. This year's Day of Immunology, 29 April,  aims to strengthen awareness on the importance of the immune system and promote scientific research. 

Monash University, a proud sponsor of the event, has a strong foothold in immunology research, spanning multiple locations including the Department of Immunology at Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct, the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI), the Hudson Institute for Medical Research and the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases at Monash Health.

This year’s public lecture, to be held at the Peter Doherty Institute, Melbourne, and chaired by Professor David Tarlinton, is “Immunology heroes and villains”. The lecture will showcase three of Melbourne’s top immunologists, including Dr Maria Liaskos (the Hudson Institute for Medical Research and an inaugural veski inspiring women fellow), Dr Susanne Heinzel (WEHI) and Professor Dale Godfrey (the University of Melbourne).

Professor Tarlinton is the newly-appointed head of the Department of Immunology, which studies the regulation of the immune system to develop better therapies for disease. This includes immune deficiencies, complications of diabetes, allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and vaccinations for infectious disease and cancers.

Professor Tarlinton said the immune system has the ability to recognise and react to a vast array of different pathogens and their potentially toxic products. Having once responded, the system has the ability to remember its successes, and thus protect against reinfection.

“This memory can last a lifetime, and protects us from being infected again by the same or a very similar pathogen, which is also how vaccines work,” said Professor Tarlinton. “If, however, that memory is from an anti-self immune reaction and is part of an autoimmune disease, then it needs to be targeted to treat the disease. This is an area addressed by my work”.

Dr Gabriela Khoury of the Department of Immunology said this year’s Day of Immunology has expanded on its previous offerings.

“The organising committee is particularly excited as we have expanded our laboratory discovery tours to both the Clayton campus and surrounding Monash affiliated research centres,” Dr Khoury said.

The Day of Immunology, in collaboration with the Immunisation Coalition, the Melbourne Primary Care Network and the Royal Institute of Australia will be holding its own vaccination campaign in the form of a free vaccination café at the Melbourne Town Hall. Free seasonal flu shots and whooping cough boosters (eligible individuals) will be provided to the public, who are also welcome to enjoy a St Ali coffee.

The Monash BDI will be opening its doors for public tours and both the Hudson Institute for Medical Research and the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases will be engaging future generations of immunologists by running school group tours. Melbourne-based aspiring immunologists will be able to further indulge their passion at the International Congress of Immunology, which Melbourne will host in August 2016. For more information on Day of Immunology visit www.dayofimmunology.org.au