Dr Nadine Dudek
I am an immunologist who has focused on the role of HLA in human autoimmune diseases over the majority of my career. My PhD, under the mentorship of Professor James McCluskey, focused on the role of the HLA-DR3/DQ2 haplotype on antigen selection in Sjögren's Syndrome, lupus and celiac disease. Following my PhD I undertook post-doctoral studies with Professor Thomas Kay (2002-2006) at St. Vincent's Institute, where I studied the cytotoxic mechanisms of T cells in β cell destruction in type 1 diabetes. In October 2006 I joined Assoc. Prof. Anthony Purcell's laboratory at the Bio21 Institute, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Melbourne. In 2012 I moved with the lab to Monash University, where I have remained as a research fellow working on the role of HLA haplotypes in human autoimmunity. I play a leadership role in projects that focus on antigen selection in rheumatoid arthritis (in particular the HLA DR1 and DR4 haplotypes), type 1 diabetes (HLA DR3-DQ2, DR4-DQ8 and DR15(2)-DQ6 haplotypes) and coeliac disease (HLA DR3-DQ2, DR4-DQ8).
Dr Nathan Croft
I completed my PhD in 2009 at the University of Birmingham in the UK where I studied immune evasion by Epstein-Barr virus. After this I joined Professor Purcell's laboratory in Melbourne and have since extended my research into the immune response to viruses through the use of proteomics techniques. Specifically, I focus on identifying and quantifying the peptides displayed by MHC molecules on the surface of infected cells for scrutiny by CD8 T cells. I am also interested in the kinetic profiling of virus and host proteins that are modulated upon infection. These projects all entail a variety of biochemical techniques and workflows, including targeted and non-targeted mass spectrometry techniques.
Dr Ralf Schittenhelm
Ralf studied Biochemistry at the University of Bayreuth, Germany and obtained his PhD from the University of Zurich, Switzerland for his work on cell cycle regulation and the composition of centromeres/kinetochores.
After his PhD, he joined the group of Prof. Dr. Ernst Hafen at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland and studied in close collaboration with the group of Prof. Dr. Ruedi Aebersold the insulin receptor / target of rapamycin (InR/TOR) pathway using high-resolution mass spectrometry.
In 2012, he was awarded with two SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation) Fellowships and joined Prof. Dr. Anthony Purcell's laboratory at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He utilizes mass spectrometry to study the onset and progression of a variety of clinically relevant diseases known as spondyloarthropathies, which are inflammatory rheumatic disorders affecting a significant proportion of our community.
Dr Patricia Illing (NHMRC Early Career Fellow)
My interest in HLA associated disease began during my Honours year in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne. It was during this time, based in the laboratory of Prof. Jim McCluskey, that I started investigating the mechanisms of abacavir hypersensitivity syndrome (AHS), an adverse drug reaction that occurs exclusively in individuals who carry the HLA variant, HLA-B*57:01. I continued these studies during my PhD, and through collaboration with the Purcell and Rossjohn laboratories, used a combination of cellular immunology, mass spectrometry, and structural biology techniques to demonstrate the mode of interaction between the antiretroviral drug abacavir and HLA-B*57:01. This research provided an explanation for the devastating AHS and was published in Nature in 2012. On completion of my PhD in 2013, I took up a position as a post-doctoral researcher in the Purcell laboratory where I continue to capitalise on the power of cellular immunology and proteomics techniques to investigate interactions between small molecules (including drugs and metabolites) and the HLA.
Dr Nicole Mifsud (Postdoctoral Fellow)
My research career began at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service-Victoria, where I developed molecular genotyping for blood groups. Gaining an interest in HLA molecules and transplantation immunology I commenced a PhD at The University of Melbourne [2000-2004] and developed a novel cellular assay for quantitating allogeneic (allo)-specific T cells to measure HLA immunogenicity for donor selection in organ transplants. These studies elucidated the importance of HLA immunodominance hierarchies and single HLA allele differences in eliciting vigorous T cell responses. My first post-doctoral position at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research strengthened my understanding of antigen processing and presentation using both Influenza A infection and tumour antigen models, which led to the identification of a novel tumour antigen (NY-ESO-1) T cell epitope (Prof Weisan Chen [2004-2006]). Supported by an NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellowship, I joined Monash University (located at The Alfred Hospital) to investigate T cell mediated pathways that contribute to chronic rejection in lung transplant recipients. During this time I demonstrated that both allo-specific T cells and crossreactive T cells contribute to adverse immune responses and allograft rejection. I have also explored both innate, regulatory T cells and chimeric immunological profiles in lung transplant recipients and their association with long term outcomes. More recently, my research has focused on the role of T cell crossreactivity as a driver of adverse clinical outcomes in transplantation. We identified a novel model of CMV-specific T cell cross-reactivity across HLA-A and HLA-B molecules that is underpinned by a specific TCR signature and demonstrated its clinical relevance in lung transplant recipients (A/Prof Tom Kotsimbos [2006-2013]). My research continues to explore novel models of T cell crossreactivity and determine their relationship with adverse clinical outcomes in transplantation. More recently, I developed an interest in T cell mechanisms that drive HLA-associated drug hypersensitivity reactions and the application of immunoproteomics to dissect the effect of small molecules (i.e. drugs) on the antigen processing and presentation pathway that underpin potent immune responses (Prof Anthony Purcell [2014-current]).
Dr Chris Barlow (Postdoctoral Fellow)
I received my PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2008 under the supervision of David McFadyen and Richard O'Hair. This work focusing on the gas-phase chemistry of biomolecules, in particular I was interested in looking at novel ways of using mass spectrometry to elucidate structure. Following the completion of my PhD I spent two years in the Metabolomics laboratory at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute focusing on plasma lipidomics. I then undertook an 18-month post-doc appointment at Texas A&M University in the Russell laboratory pursuing work involving ion mobility and fundamental aspects of mass spectrometry of biomolecules. I returned to Baker IDI and rejoined the Metabolomics group in 2012 where I continued my work in plasma lipidomics. I joined the Purcell group at Monash University in March 2015. My main research interests involve the use of mass spectrometry for the analysis of lipids in human health and disease.
Mr Sri Ramarathinam (co-supervised with Prof Damian Purcell, Peter Doherty Institute, University of Melbourne)
Sri has been associated with the Purcell lab for a number of years having first joined in 2007 as a research assistant and commencing a PhD in 2011. His work focuses on identifying T cell epitopes in HIV-1 infection and studying reactivation of latent virus using proteomics and immunological assays.
Ms Kai Lin Giam
Kailin joined the Purcell laboratory as a BSc(Hons) student in 2011 and continued on to a PhD. Her project focuses on the identification of T cell epitopes of relevance to type 1 diabetes and understanding how changes in the islet proteome are revealed to the immune system.
Ms Ting Wu
Project: Antigen Presentation during Influenza Virus Infection.
Ting joined the Purcell lab in 2013. The aim of her project is to identify and quantify naturally processed and presented Influenza A virus (IAV) derived peptides after direct infection of antigen presenting cells and dendritic cell mediated cross-presentation of these antigenic peptides using mass spectrometry. Her work is aimed at defining the immune hierarchy (relative magnitude of the CD8+ T cell response) elicited towards these viral epitopes and to provide quantitative information on the epitope presentation kinetics of established and novel IAV epitopes. Information gained from this study will inform more optimal vaccine design.
Ms Amanda Woon
I completed my undergraduate science degree at Monash University in 2011, majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I then undertook an Honours project in Associate Professor Anna Roujeinikova's laboratory characterising the oncogenic protein, CagA, produced by stomach-dwelling bacteria, Helicobacter pylori. In 2013, I joined Professor Tony Purcell's group to pursue a PhD project investigating different host immune responses to a deadly Australian pathogen, the Hendra virus. In particular, I focus on studying the bat immune system as bats are known to naturally co-exist with a multitude of pathogenic viruses, including the Hendra virus, without fatal consequences. My project employs various biochemical and proteomic techniques including the use of highly sensitive, state-of-the-art mass spectrometers.
Ms Louise Rowntree (with Tom Kotsimbos, Alfred Hospital and Nicole Mifsud)
I was introduced to immunology and transplant research during my Honours year in the Central Clinical School at Monash University. I am currently undertaking my PhD under the supervision of Dr Nicole Mifsud and A/Prof Tom Kotsimbos with a focus on T cell cross-reactivity. I am interested in whether T cells developed against particular viruses can reactivate in certain situations of solid organ transplantation or infection with an unrelated second virus. These studies have occurred within the Purcell laboratory and in collaboration with the laboratories of A/Prof Katherine Kedzierska (University of Melbourne) and Prof. Jamie Rossjohn, and involve the use of cellular immunology assays, molecular screening and structural biology techniques.
Ms Katherine Scull (with Nick Williamson, Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne)
Kate is completing a part time PhD in bioinformatics, and is studying new ways to analyse the immunopeptidome. She is based primarily at the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne.
Ms Rochelle Ayala
I completed my Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne in 2002 and began work as a Research Assistant in Thomas Kay's lab at St. Vincent's Institute. There I spent ten years in Type 1 Diabetes research, gaining expertise in a range of molecular biology techniques and immunological assays. During this time I was also a member of the islet isolation team under the Tom Mandel Islet Transplant Program. In 2012 I joined Tony Purcell's Immunoproteomics laboratory at Monash University as a Senior Research Assistant. I have enjoyed expanding on my skill base by using various techniques in protein purification and detection, including HPLC and mass spec. My primary responsibilities are to assist with the various collaborative projects our lab is engaged in, as well as manage resources to facilitate the day to day running of the lab.
Ms Iresha Hanchapola
I completed a Bachelor of Science (Hons) majoring in Immunology at Monash University in 2001.After my studies I worked as a senior microbiologist at Silliker Microtech for 3 years. In 2005 I joined Ian Smith's laboratory at Monash University as a senior research assistant. I am currently working as a senior research assistant in the Immunoproteomics laboratory under Prof. Anthony Purcell.
Mr Jeff Lai (part-time undergraduate)
Ms Heidi Fettke (part-time undergraduate)
Heidi is currently working as a research assistant whilst completing a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Science with a double major in immunology and genetics. After the completion of her undergraduate degree in 2015, Heidi has plans to continue into postgraduate study.
Ms Saranjah Sivaneswaran
I joined the Purcell laboratory after completing Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Deakin University in 2014. As part of my undergraduate degree I completed my internship in this lab and followed by a summer research placement. Currently I am doing my honours under Dr. Ralf Schittenhelm and Professor Anthony Purcell looking into mechanisms behind treatments that increase HLA-B*27 homodimer formation, a protein misfolding pathway implicated in the pathogenesis of arthritic disease like ankylosing spondylitis.
Mr Will Leong
I completed my Bachelor of Biotechnology at Monash University in 2014. I am currently doing a Bachelor of Science honours under supervision of Tony Purcell and Nadine Dudek. In my honours project, I will be identifying CD8+ T cell epitope of malaria antigen. I am interested in the pathogenesis of malaria and wish to contribute in finding means to fight the disease.
Past PhD students:
• Dr Whitney Macdonald (Science Writer and Adjunct Faculty member Rockefeller University NY, USA) PhD 2003
• Dr Andrew Webb (Lab Head and Proteomics Facility Manager, WEHI) PhD 2005
• Dr Danielle Zernich (Patent Attorney, FB Rice) PhD 2006
• Dr Renu Shankar (clinical trials co-ordinator) PhD 2007
• Dr Adam Karpala (CSIRO) PhD 2008
• Dr Philippa Saunders (Post-doc, University of Melbourne) PhD 2010
• A/Prof Helena Safavi-Hemami (Assistant Professor, University of Utah, USA) PhD 2011
• Dr Kim Lau (IP Australia, Canberra), PhD 2011
• Dr Chor Teck Tan (Agilent Technologies, Singapore) PhD 2012
• Dr Dhana Gorasia (Post-doc, University of Melbourne) PhD 2012
• Dr Charles Reilly (Post-doc at Weiss Institute, Boston USA) PhD 2012
• Dr Laura Gianni (post-doc at WEHI), PhD 2014
• Dr Garth Stephenson (CSIRO) PhD 2014
• Dr Nick Williamson (Facility Manager, Bio21 Mass Spectrometry and Peptide Synthesis Facility, University of Melbourne)
• Dr Linus Chang (retired)
• Dr Diah El Hassan (Research Analyst at Health Consult Pty Ltd, Sydney)
• Dr Jessica Markby (HIV Program Coordinator at Clinton Foundation, Papua New Guinea)
• Dr Geordie Rudge (unknown)
• Dr Daniel Barr (Research Integrity Coordinator at The University of Melbourne)
• Dr Alexandra Corbett (Senior Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Melbourne)
• Dr Sheena Wee (Research Scientist - Mass Spectrometry at IMCB, Singapore)
• Dr Hilary Hoare (Medical Student, Deakin University)
Past Research Assistants:
• Jeanne Butler (RA at University of Melbourne)
• Tanya Crockford (RA at University of Oxford)
• Ashish Nair (PhD Student, Baker IDI, Melbourne)
• Dr Roza Nastovska (Completed Medicine at Deakin University)
• Natalie Lane (High school teacher)
• Dorothy Loo (Mass Spectrometry Facility Manager, Translation Research Institute, University of Queensland)