The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


Research Projects

Project: Interrogating B cell immunity to COVID19 and influenza vaccines

Kent group

SARS-CoV2 is a global pandemic and Influenza remains a persistent threat to human health, with current vaccines eliciting sub-optimal and transient protection from infection. Mechanistically, vaccine protection is afforded by antibodies targeting viral entry proteins – spike (S) for SARS-CoV2 and hemagglutinin (HA) for Influenza. However, next-generation vaccines seek to expand immune recognition to alternative sites within S and HA, or alternative viral proteins, in order to increase protective breadth. This project will utilise advanced microscopy and flow cytometry-based techniques to interrogate SARS-CoV2 and influenza-specific B cell responses (memory B cells, antibodies) to infection and immunisation in both relevant animal models of human disease, and human clinical samples. Many of the techniques have been well established in our group’s recent papers in Nature Medicine, Nature Communications and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Insights will be used to guide the design and testing of novel vaccine concepts in animal models.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Professor Stephen Kent

Project Co-supervisor

Dr Adam Wheatley

Project availability

Kent group

7 vacancies

Cross Cutting Disciplines

Research Projects 2019 | 25 The Kent group has an interest in understanding how the immune response can be harnessed in the control of infectious pathogens including HIV, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and influenza. This includes understanding non-conventional T cells and how they are impacted by HIV infection despite the fact that they are not target cells for HIV replication. We use animal models to investigate ways to manipulate these cells and to understand how they are regulated during viral infection. We also examine how antibodies can instruct the innate immune system to attack invading pathogens through their Fc regions. Our research aims to understand the mechanisms behind these antibodies in order to guide the development of more effective antibody therapeutics and vaccines.