Meet our world-leading researchers

Outstanding facilities and commitment to discovery makes our School in demand among the brightest minds in biomedical research. Here are just a few of the leaders contributing to our world-changing research.

Dr Elena Schneider

As an early career pharmacologist, Dr Elena Schneider’s work helps people with cystic fibrosis (CF) to have better lives. With more than 2000 mutations causing CF and symptoms varying from patient-to-patient, the pathophysiology and treatments are complicated.

To help, Dr Schneider’s research focuses on the pharmacology, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) mechanisms and potential drug interactions. The aim is to optimise therapy and find new treatment options to combat lung infections caused by multi-drug-resistant Gram-negative ‘superbugs’ in patients.

Dr Schneider is the ASM Young Ambassador to Australia (American Society of Microbiology), and 2019 winner of the TSANZ Peter Phelan Research Award from the Thoracic Society of Australia.

You never know where biomedical science can take you. My career takes me all over the world: I give talks at international conferences, I’ve been interviewed by radio stations, I meet Nobel Laureates and many other interesting people.
Dr Elena Schneider
NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellow
Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology

Professor Laura Mackay

Award-winning biomedical scientist, Professor Laura Mackay joined the School in 2009 and established her own research group at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in 2016. Her research focusses on a population of T cells that resides in tissues of the body – termed tissue-resident memory T cells. The aim is to harness these cells for the development of new vaccines and immunotherapeutic strategies.

Professor Mackay is also an undergraduate lecturer and presents her laboratory’s research around the world.

Among her many accolades, she was awarded the 2019 Frank Fenner Life Scientist of the Year Award in the Prime Minister’s Prizes, the 2019 Gottschalk Medal by the Australian Academy of Science, the 2018 Michelson Prize for Human Immunology and Vaccine Research and was appointed the first female President of the Federation of Immunological Societies of Asia-Oceania.

There are so many opportunities to collaborate with world class scientists and clinicians in the Precinct and I’ve definitely been able to capitalise on that.
Professor Laura Mackay
Sylvia & Charles Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellow
HHMI-Gates International Research Scholar
Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Professor Danny Hatters

Professor Hatters’ laboratory is based at the Bio21 Molecular Science & Biotechnology Institute. His research investigates the mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Huntington's and Motor Neurone Diseases.

Professor Hatters' interest is in understanding the biology thought to be most closely associated with the mechanisms of disease, including protein quality control. The focus is on developing new biosensors and strategies to probe how inappropriate protein aggregation relates to the mechanisms of disease. In collaboration with Professor Gavin Reid, he has developed new methodologies and strategies in proteomics resulting in many publications, including a paper featured in Nature Communications in early 2018.

I really enjoy the problem-solving aspects of biomedical research and thinking outside the box to solve the challenging problems. I am most satisfied with my accomplishments that ticks those boxes.
Professor Danny Hatters
NHMRC Senior Research Fellow
Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology

Dr Garron Dodd

Dr Dodd is a Neuroscientist with an interest in understanding how the brain controls energy balance and how this underlies metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

He leads the Metabolic Neuroscience Research Group, which is focusing on the role of insulin signalling to the brain and how this becomes defective in metabolic disease.

Dr Dodd says this is an especially exciting era to be an active researcher. Never before have biomedical scientists been able to manipulate, image and re-wire neuronal circuits with such autonomy and precision.

Dr Dodd’s findings have been published in some of the most prestigious science journals including Cell, Cell Metabolism and eLife.

Take every opportunity to share and discuss your work and the work of others and don’t be afraid to ask senior colleagues for advice as they have weathered all the highs and lows of science.
Dr Garron Dodd
Senior Lecturer
Head of the Metabolic Neuroscience Laboratory
Department of Anatomy and Physiology

Professor Thomas Gebhardt

Professor Gebhardt leads the Gebhardt Research Group in the Peter Doherty institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) and is Head of the Gebhardt Laboratory in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. He is also involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in Microbiology & Immunology.

His group aims to understand how the immune system protects humans from infectious diseases on the body’s surfaces in skin and mucosa. The work in Professor Gebhardt's laboratory is at the forefront of an emerging and rapidly growing area  of research focusing on a type of immune cell named tissue-resident memory T (TRM) cells.

Working in the in the Melbourne Parkville Precinct among the density of world-class research institutes and hospitals Prof Gebhardt’s laboratory is part of a broad network of investigators across the Doherty Institute, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

These are truly exciting times…'immunotherapies' have revolutionised the treatment of advanced-stage cancer patients. In some patients these novel therapies can even drive complete cure. I strongly believe that this will be possible and would love to think that our ongoing and future work will make an important contribution in this regard.
Professor Thomas Gebhardt
Senior Medical Research Fellow (Sylvia & Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation)
Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Professor Jennifer Wilkinson-Berka

Enhancing the student experience and generating research outcomes that have an impact in both the pre-clinical and clinical research spaces is what drives Professor Wilkinson-Berka.

In her Diabetic Retinopathy Laboratory, researchers are focusing on how the adaptive immune system can be harnessed to prevent vision loss and blindness in pre-term children, diabetes and ageing. Professor Wilkinson-Berka’s pre-clinical research led to the discovery that the blockage of the hormone angiotensin II reduces retinal vascular disease, and this research contributed to the largest clinical trial on this topic in diabetic retinopathy.

Research can be a slow and sometimes frustrating endeavour, but when discoveries are made in the laboratory it makes the hard work worthwhile and these successes should be celebrated.
Professor Jennifer Wilkinson-Berka
Head of School
Head of the Diabetic Retinopathy Laboratory
School of Biomedical Sciences