How do bone marrow microenvironments regulate B lymphocyte production?

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Masters by Research
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Department / Centre
St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Professor Louise Purton 03 9231 2480 Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Gavin Tjin 03 9231 2480
Ms Diannita Kwang 03 9231 2480

Summary B lymphocytes, which are essential in eliminating pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, decline during aging, in part due to a reduced bone marrow microenvironment (the factory for B lymphocyte production). The changes that occur in the B lymphocyte factory that cause this decline are unclear and will be investigated in this project.

Project Details

B lymphocytes are antibody-producing white blood cells that eliminate pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. A range of diseases involve significantly reduced B lymphocyte numbers, and, by the age of 60 (currently more than 20% of the Australian population), the production of B lymphocytes in humans has significantly declined as a result of aging. People with low B lymphocyte numbers are more susceptible to infection by viruses and other pathogens, contributing to their increased morbidity and mortality. Low B lymphocyte numbers in humans also reduces the effectiveness of vaccinations, further contributing to the risk of infection.

The primary site where B lymphocytes are made is in the bone marrow, and a range of non-blood cells (called bone marrow microenvironment cells) help to regulate the different stages involved in the production of B lymphocytes. Each bone marrow microenvironment that supports the distinct stages of B lymphocyte production is unique and some key regulators of B lymphocytes have been identified. Despite this, little is known about the nature of the cell types that form each distinct B lymphocyte bone marrow microenvironment. Furthermore, the reduced production of B lymphocytes due to aging is known to be accompanied by changes in B lymphocyte bone marrow microenvironments, however, there is little understanding of what these changes are. In this project, we will use a highly innovative immunofluorescence imaging technology to identify the different B lymphocyte bone marrow microenvironments. We will also determine the changes that occur to these bone marrow microenvironments during aging.

The studies will incorporate a range of different techniques, including innovative multicolour immunofluorescence studies on bone marrow sections, isolation of bone marrow cells from mice, fluorescence-based immunostaining accompanied by fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) and molecular biology techniques.

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes


Research Opportunities

PhD students, Masters by Research
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


Research Node

St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research

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