The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

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

Professor Axel Kallies

Professor Axel Kallies completed his PhD in Berlin, Germany, working on macrophage development. He then started his postdoctoral fellowship in the group of Stephen Nutt at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) where he worked on the control of plasma cell differentiation. In 2010 he started his laboratory at the WEHI and began his research which was focused on T-cell biology. In 2017, he was recruited as a full-time professor to the University of Melbourne.

  • Key Achievements
    • The Kallies laboratory studies the molecular control of cytotoxic and regulatory T-cell differentiation with a focus on cells residing in non-lymphoid tissue, including tumors. Their work was first to identify the central roles of transcriptional regulators such as Blimp1 in T-cell differentiation (Kallies et al. Nat Immunol. 2006, Kallies et al. Immunity 2009, Cretney et al. Nat Immunol 2011, Xin et al. Nat Immunol. 2016), IRF4 in CD8 T-cell function and metabolism (Man et al Nat Immunol 2013, Immunity 2017) and Hobit in tissue-resident - cells (Mackay et al Science 2016). His team also discovered the essential role of IL-33 in the development and maintenance of adipose tissue Treg cells (Vasanthakumar et al. Nat Immunol. 2015).

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    • Development of effector regulatory T cells

      After exiting the thymus, Treg cells undergo further differentiation in the periphery. During this process they acquire full suppressive capacity, including IL-10 production, and further diversify into multiple specialized Treg cell types that can enter distinct tissues. Here effector Treg cells exert critical functions such as repressing tissue inflammation, mediating tissue repair and regulating metabolism. This project examines the molecular control of effector Treg cell development, diversification and function.

    • Sex-specific regulation of adipose tissue immune cells

      Adipose tissue is an energy store and a vital endocrine organ, which plays a central role in maintaining organismal metabolism. It also contains a large number and diversity of immune cells, most notably Treg cells that are critical in maintaining adipose tissue health. Impairments in adipose tissue immune cells result in obesity and metabolic disease, such as type 2 diabetes. We have found striking differences in the composition of immune and stromal cells within the adipose, controlled by sex hormones. This project aims to understand sex-specific immune cell regulation and its consequences for the development of metabolic disease.

    • Precursor exhausted T cells in chronic infection and tumors

      Cytotoxic T cells are essential for tumor control and immunotherapy. However, T cells persistently exposed to antigen during chronic viral infections and in tumors undergo dramatic changes resulting in impaired effector function, a state known as ‘exhaustion’. Recent work by us and others has identified that a subset of these cells (precursor exhausted cells, TPEX) maintain high proliferative potential and respond to checkpoint inhibition. This project examines how TPEX develop and how they can be targeted to advance therapy for chronic infections and cancer.

    • Tissue-resident memory T cells

      During an immune response, T cells develop into memory cells that protect from secondary infection. Tissue-resident memory T cells (TRM) are a subset of memory T cells, residing permanently in peripheral sites such as the lung, liver and small intestine. TRM cells have also been found in cancer where they play an important role in tumor control. In this project, we utilize new tools that allow us to specifically study the development of TRM cells and target them in conditions of tumor growth.

    Research Groups
    • Kallies Group

      The Kallies group studies the molecular control of lymphocyte differentiation in response to antigen with a particular focus on T cells residing in non-lymphoid tissues, including tumors.

      Lab Team

      • Dr Jonas Blume
        Postdoctoral Researcher
      • Dr Sarah Gabriel
        Postdoctoral Researcher
      • Dr Patrick Gubser
        Postdoctoral Researcher
      • Research Fellow
      • Dr Daniel Utzschneider
        Postdoctoral Fellow
      • Renee Gloury
        Research Assistant
      • Teisha Mason
        Research Support Officer
      • Carlson Tsui
        Research Officer
      • Santiago Valle Torres
        PhD Student