Day of Immunology – detecting, controlling and treating infectious diseases

Professor Andrew Brooks encourages students and researchers to continue the momentum on COVID-19 vaccine research, and more.

The development of robust pipelines for assessing immunity to respiratory infections such as influenza in the School’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology played a pivotal role in being able successfully contribute to understanding natural immunity following SARS-CoV2 infection. These same pipelines are also central to the development of successful vaccines required to combat the disease.

On this Day of Immunology, Professor Andrew Brooks, Head of the Department and Deputy Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, said the pandemic had increased the global awareness of immunology in particular in the fight against infection but also for its roles in autoimmunity and cancer.

“For students and early career researchers, in particular, this an important time to focus on understanding the immune system, pathogens and infectious agents. The last two years have really highlighted the importance of developing new ways to detect, control and treat infectious diseases and additionally to manipulate the immune system to improve responses to organisms that cause infectious diseases or cancer.”

Established by the European Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS), the Day of Immunology has been celebrated worldwide since 2007.

This year, the theme is vaccines – shining a light on the science behind vaccines. Most notably in recent months, the School has been at the forefront of COVID-19-specific vaccine research.

Recruitment has commenced for a Phase 1 clinical trial of two Melbourne-made COVID-19 vaccinesDr Jennifer Juno, contributed to research that found  vaccine-induced T cells provide long-lasting immune response to COVID-19. And, Professor Stephen Kent’s team received a $3 million Medical Research Future Fund award in 2021 to study vaccines against COVID-19 variants.

Prof Brooks encouraged researchers to continue the momentum into COVID-19 vaccine research and other areas of immunology.  “We’ve had a hugely productive 18 months understanding new COVID vaccines and understanding what protective immunity looks like. There has never been a more exciting time to study the immune system.”

To learn more, the International Union of Immunological Societies is hosting a webinar on Friday 29 April, Science, State and Challenges of COVID-19 vaccines, featuring an panel of global immunology expert. Register