Epigenomic remodelling of immunity by reproductive and sex-hormones

Research Opportunity
PhD students
Department / Centre
Paediatrics
Location
Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Boris Novakovic boris.novakovic@mcri.edu.au +61383416341 Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Richard Saffery richard.saffery@mcri.edu.au +61383416341
Dr Ada Cheung adac@unimelb.edu.au +61 3 9496 2260

Summary During times of hormone change, such as pregnancy, immune cells are altered and show different capacity for microbe responses. In this project we ask the question: how do hormones remodel the epigenome of immune cells?

Project Details

Our immune system is designed to remember and adapt to our environment. This process is dependent on epigenetic remodeling, which alters the ‘activity states’ of the genome. During times of hormone change, such as pregnancy, immune cells are altered and show different capacity for microbe responses. In this project we ask the question: how do hormones remodel our immune system?

To answer this, we apply both single-cell immune-profiling and (epi)genomics techniques (aka Systems Immunology) to samples collected from clinical trials. The successful candidate will have access to viably frozen biological samples from a range of clinical models, which include but are not limited to:

Pregnancy: (1) samples from different trimesters, (2) diseases such as gestational diabetes.

Gender affirming hormone therapy (GATH): (1) male-to-female and (2) female-to-male transition.

Ex vivo Trained Immunity model: (1) effects of specific hormones, (2) serum exposure, (3) effects of hormones on microbe response

These cohorts allow us to study how hormones affect immune function transiently in pregnancy and long term in the case of sex-hormone therapy in transgender individuals. 

The lab: This project will be primarily based in the Epigenetics laboratory at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Dr Boris Novakovic is the primary supervisor, with Prof Richard Saffery, Dr Melanie Neeland and Dr Ada Cheung as co-supervisors. The lab has established protocols for epigenomic profiling, bioinformatics analysis, complex immune profiling, and monocyte culture experiments (Figure 1). The Children’s Campus has facilities for multi-colour cell sorting, genomic sequencing and a bioinformatics platform through VCGS and Melbourne Genomics.

Techniques involved: CUT&TAG, RNA-seq, DNA methylation arrays, CITE-seq, blood processing, cell culture, Advanced flow cytometry, bead-based immunoassays, bioinformatics analysis.



Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Women's Health



Research Opportunities

PhD students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre

Paediatrics

Research Node

Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

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