The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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

Dr Laura Cook

Dr Laura Cook

Dr Laura Cook

(03) 9035 7727 |

Senior Research Officer
Immunology, Bacterial and Parasitic Infections
Discovery Research, Clinical and health systems research
Department of Microbiology and Immunology (DMI)
Lab Group(s):
Villadangos Group

Dr Laura Cook is a human immunologist whose research focuses on the role of CD4+ T cells, particularly regulatory T cells, in infectious and autoimmune diseases. Dr Cook completed her PhD at the Kirby Institute, UNSW in 2014 under the supervision of Dr Anthony Kelleher studying human antigen-specific CD39+ regulatory T cells (Tregs). Dr Cook completed 6 years postdoctoral research at The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada with Dr Megan Levings, a world-expert in human Tregs, and Dr Ted Steiner, an infectious diseases specialist. Dr Cook is pursuing functional studies of antigen-specific Tregs in infectious disease.

  • Key Achievements
    • During her PhD Dr Cook developed an assay to isolate human antigen-specific CD39+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) and identified that, in coeliac disease patients, gluten-specific CD39+ Tregs have a functional defect that may contribute to disease. Dr Cook’s postdoctoral research focused on the therapeutic potential of natural and induced human regulatory T cell subsets. She discovered unique functions of Type 1 Tregs in suppressing inflammation and promoting gut epithelial health. She identified reduced Th17 cell immunity to bacterial flagellin inflammatory bowel disease compared to healthy controls and that impaired Th17 immunity to C. difficile toxins associated with severe, recurring disease.

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    Research Groups
    • Villadangos Group

      Jose’s group combines immunology, biochemistry and cell biology to study how the adaptive immune system detects pathogens and cancer, a process called Antigen Presentation. Their research is applicable to vaccine development, treatment of critically ill patients and the fight against cancer.

      Lab Team

      Villadangos Group

      • Alan Ching
      • Lauren Cox
      • Jesse Crowe
        Honours Student
      • Claire Dumont
      • Giuseppe Infusini
      • Haiyin Liu
      • Hamish McWilliam
        Research Officer
      • Justine Mintern
      • Zehua Tian
        PhD Student
      • Shirin Valikhani
      • Vivian Vuong
      • Matthew Zorkau
    Student Projects