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Decision-making in the immune system

Plasma cells produce antibodies so are important for protection from infections. We are interested in understanding the programming of their formation. Plasma cells are generated from activated B cells, that express a receptor called the B cell receptor (BCR) that recognizes a single cognate antigen. If the B cell is exposed to the cognate antigen, it will be activated, divide and potentially generate a plasma cell. The strength with which the BCR recognizes antigen might influence the chance of it become a plasma cell, and this would have implications for vaccine design, but evidence for this mechanism is equivocal. In this project, the student will address an important question in the immunology field with cutting-edge cellular immunology approaches. The approach involves the adoptive transfer of B cells into recipient mice, and then tracing of the fate of those B cells with or without receipt of signals that mimic varying the affinity of the antigen. The export of plasma cells from an active B cell response, termed a 'germinal centre' response, will be traced in time, as will the expansion of the B cells based on the affinity mimic. The student will gain experience with high-level flow cytometry, and basic mouse handling.
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here:
antibody, plasma cell, B cells, immunology, cancer, vaccination, vaccine, vaccines, immunization, mRNA, IgE, allergy, immune system
School of Translational Medicine » Immunology and Pathology
Available options 
Masters by research
Time commitment 
Top-up scholarship funding available 
Physical location 
The Alfred Centre - Prahran
David Tarlinton

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