Dr Laura Cook awarded AMP Tomorrow Fund grant

The Senior Researcher (Dept of Microbiology and Immunology) has received AMP Foundation funding for her immune system memory research.

Dr Laura Cook is a human immunologist working in the Villadangos Research Group (Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Doherty Institute). The AMP Tomorrow Fund award will support her current research exploring how to enhance the immune system's ability to develop memory and to protect against bacterial and viral infection.

For the past 12 years, Dr Cook has been studying the contribution of T cells, specifically helper CD4+ T cells, to human immune memory responses - here in Australia and Canada.

Her work uncovered a unique population of these cells, called regulatory T cells, unexpectedly comprised a significant portion (30-80%) of the helper T cell memory response. Regulatory T cells are generally thought to be an immune-suppressive cell, but recent studies have highlighted novel roles in wound healing/tissue repair and in enhancing immune memory development.

Dr Cook said that the AMP Foundation support will help uncover fundamental knowledge critical to the development of better immunotherapies and vaccines to reduce the burden of infectious disease.

“I will use cutting-edge cell culture technology to grow mini 3D human organs, called organoids, together with immune cells to study the contribution and function of T cells to immune memory that develops in our bodies,” Dr Cook explained.

“In doing so, my research will discover which memory helper T cell functions guide the development of effective memory, leading to development of more efficacious treatment and prevention strategies for infectious disease."

“This novel all-human setting ensures the findings will be directly translatable to vaccine design and efficacy studies of novel immune therapies,” Dr Cook said.

Congratulations to all the AMP Tomorrow Makers announced this week.

Find out more here

Article originally published by the Doherty Institute on 27 October 2022.