My group at the Centre for Immunology aims to translate immunogenetic findings from discovery to clinical practice. We have used genome wide association studies to identify genetic variants which affect risk of multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C infection and response to drugs. We have used transcriptomic, flow cytometric and cell culture approaches to investigate why genetic variants affect the immune response. This has identified pathogenic processes which we now propose to investigate further, leveraging off the genetic findings. We are located in the new Westmead Millennium Building, co-located with the Centre for Virology and the Storr Liver Unit. Our director is Prof Graeme Stewart, and we closely collaborate with Prof Steve Vucic, who runs the MS clinic at Westmead Hospital. We also collaborate with immunologists at the Garvan Institute, nationally (eg the ANZgene consortium) and internationally (eg. the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium). We offer 3 projects for postgraduate studies
We and others have identified >110 genes which affect the risk of developing MS. Environmental factors are also known to be important risk factors, especially Epstein Bar Virus exposure, which can confer the biggest increase in risk. This project will analyse which if any of the MS risk genes exert their effect through changing EBV /other virus pathogenesis. The project requires a literature review to identify candidate genes and viruses; generation, curation and application of targetted biobanks; empirical attempts to test hypotheses eg assessment of immune cell infection by EBV for different host genotypes by measurement of genetic effects on signaling pathways, production of viral proteins, changes in immune cell state and types; and antibodies to infection in sera from controls and patients.
The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 89