Dr Kumudika de Silva
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Dr Kumudika de Silva

BAppSc (Hons I), PhDMembership of Marie Bashir Institute
Senior Research Fellow  
+61 2 9351 1746
+61 2 9351 1693
C01A - Jl Shute - Camden
The University of Sydney
Dr Kumudika de Silva

Dr Kumi de Silva is a Senior Research Fellow at the Sydney School of Veterinary Science. She is an immunologist and an advocate for equity and active inclusion. She earned her undergraduate degree and a University Medal from the University of Canberra and her doctorate from the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University. Her research career started with an interest in immune cell migration in response to oxidised lipids in atherosclerosis and subsequently in burn injury in humans, and now focuses on immune cell responses to infectious diseases in ruminants.

Dr de SIlva is Editor-in-Chief for the International Association for Paratuberculosis and a member of the University of Sydney’s Self-Assessment Team for the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Athena SWAN pilot program. In 2018 she co-founded, and is inaugural Chair, of the Mosaic Network which aims to empower and support staff from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and to influence cultural change at the University…and beyond.

She has lived most of her life in Sydney but has also lived in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Japan and the USA.

The immune system is a complex network of cells and organs that is responsible for enabling good health in humans and animals. Immune cell responses are highly regulated to maintain a balance between fighting infections caused by bacteria or viruses and limiting damage to your own tissues.

Dr de Silva is interested in cellular immune changes that occur during infection and differences in these responses that enable some animals to avoid infection while others succumb to disease. Her work has identified biological markers that can be used to predict future disease outcome in a mycobacterial disease of ruminants (Johne’s disease or paratuberculosis) as well as dysfunctional immune cell responses in sheep that do not respond to vaccination. These findings can influence future management strategies to control disease on-farm.

Current research projects include collaborations to investigate cellular immune responses that drive a healthy outcome for livestock as well as testing a new type of vaccine to determine its suitability for ruminants.


1. Kathryn Wright (July 2017-): Biomarkers for identifying Johne's disease resilience on-farm

2. Matt Johansen (2014-2017): Novel pathogenic mechanisms of Mycobacterium avium subspeciesparatuberculosis

3. Hannah Pooley (2014-2017):Examining host immune response to vaccination against Johne’s and how this influences disease progression

4. Shyamala Thirunavukkarasu (2009-2012): Involvement of pathogen and host-associated lipids in the macrophage immune responses to Johne's disease

5. Vidya Bhardwaj (2007-2012): The role of the host in the pathogenesis of ovine footrot

6. Ling Zhong (2005-2009): Proteomic and genomic responses during Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection in sheep

7. Sally Browne (2004-2011): Apoptotic responses during the pathogenesis of Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis in sheep

Animal and Veterinary Bioscience Honours

1. Rachel Mizzi (2018): The role of lipids on macrophage polarization state and Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) infection

2. Ann Lye (2017): Host immune response to a recombinant subunit vaccine against Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis

3. Hilary Connors (2016):Investigation of host-pathogen interactions related to pathogenesis in Johne’s disease

4. Chad Cooper(2016):Activation of macrophages in paratuberculosis and its relationship to disease

5. Adam Kearns (2016): Investigation of cytokine and associated exosome release patterns from macrophages exposed to Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis.

Developing an affordable and effective food-grade oral vaccine for livestock; McGarvie Smith Institute

Resilience on farm: mechanisms, markers and applications; Meat and Livestock Australia

Immune fitness as a measure of animal health, welfare and productivity; Meat and Livestock Australia

Development of a novel oral vaccine for Bovine Respiratory Disease, de Silva K, Plain K, Purdie (Williams) A, Meat and Livestock Australia Ltd/Research and Development Grant

Co-founder and Chair: Mosaic Network

Editor-in-Chief: International Association for Paratuberculosis

Society for Mucosal Immunology

2019: Dr John Yu Fellowship for Cultural Diversity and Leadership, University of Sydney Business School

2015: Vice Chancellor's Sponsorship Program

Project titleResearch student
Vaccine driven selection of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosisRachel MIZZI
Biomarkers for identifying Johne's disease resilience on-farmKathryn WRIGHT


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Selected Grants


  • Development of a novel oral vaccine for Bovine Respiratory Disease, de Silva K, Plain K, Purdie (Williams) A, Meat and Livestock Australia Ltd/Research and Development Grant


  • Developing an affordable and effective food-grade oral vaccine for livestock, de Silva K, Purdie (Williams) A, Plain K, McGarvie Smith Institute/Research Grant