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Characterisation of a novel cytokine in mucosal immune responses to infections

Description 
We have discovered a new cytokine exclusively expressed in the female reproductive tract, which is essential for the optimal response to Sexually Transmitted Infections such as Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and Chlamydia and possibly HIV. It is unique for several reasons: unlike conventional cytokines, IFN epsilon (IFNe) is constitutively expressed, especially in the female reproductive tract, is not regulated by pathogens, but is regulated by hormones. This work was recently published in the prestigious journal, Science. 2013 Mar 1;339 (6123):1088-92. Current projects involve our unique repertoire of reagents including gene knockout mouse models of the female reproductive tract, as well as recombinant cytokines, antibodies, clinical patient cohorts and primary cell cultures for an ongoing study program that includes the following specific areas to characterise the mechanisms whereby this new cytokine regulates the immune response: • Molecular Biology – determining the mechanism of regulation of IFNe gene expression, • Biochemistry – characterising the mechanism of IFNe interaction with receptors and activation of novel signalling pathways, • Immunology – determining how and which immune cells are regulated in the FRT mucosa during infections and other disease, • Infectious Diseases (clinical and animal models) – determining whether hormonal regulation of IFNe makes women more susceptible to infection at certain times with pathogens such as HIV, HSV and Chlamydia, and • Cancer Biology and immunology – characterising the role of IFNe in the development and progression of uterine and ovarian cancer. Key words: Women’s health, reproductive / sexual health, innate immunity, infectious diseases
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here: https://www.monash.edu/admissions/entry-requirements/minimum
Keywords 
Women’s health, reproductive / sexual health, innate immunity, infectious diseases
School 
School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health / Hudson Institute of Medical Research » Molecular and Translational Sciences
Available options 
PhD/Doctorate
Honours
Time commitment 
Full-time
Physical location 
Monash Health Translation Precinct (Monash Medical Centre)
Co-supervisors 
Dr 
Eveline gde Geus

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