Rossjohn Laboratory

Understanding immune function and dysfunction.

Professor Jamie Rossjohn

Professor Jamie Rossjohn’s research is centered on an understanding immunity. He is currently an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow (2017-2021) and previously a NHMRC Australia Fellow (2011-2016) and ARC Federation Fellow (2007-11). He is the Head of the Infection and Immunity Program of the Biomedicine Discovery Institute. Prof. Rossjohn is known for his contributions to the understanding the molecular basis underpinning immunity. He has used structural biology to explain pre-T- cell receptor (TCR) self-association in T-cell development, and how the TCR specifically recognises polymorphic Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) molecules in the context of viral immunity and aberrant T- cell reactivity.

He has unearthed structural mechanisms of HLA polymorphism impacting on drug and food hypersensitivities, as well as Natural Killer cell receptor recognition. He has pioneered our molecular understanding of lipid-based immunity by T cells, revealing that it can differ fundamentally from peptide-mediated adaptive immunity.

Recently he has provided a structural basis of how vitamin B metabolites can be presented and recognised by the immune system, revealing a new class of antigen. Collectively, he has published > 300 papers and mentored numerous researchers towards obtaining higher degrees and nationally competitive fellowships.

What We Do

The laboratory is currently investigating two broad, yet interrelated areas addressing pivotal molecular interactions in immunity: Our program is inter-linked to create a complete systematic study, namely host recognition, responses developed by the pathogen, and drug design to modulate and/or counteract these events.

Here we aim to provide a fundamental advancement of knowledge of events that are central to innate and adaptive immunity. Understanding the structural and biophysical basis of MHC-restriction, TCR engagement, the structural correlates of T-cell signalling is significant; they represent central questions in the field of adaptive immunity. Moreover, investigating the structural basis of T-cell allorecognition, and T-cell mediated autoimmunity, will collectively provide clear insights into immune dysfunction. In addition, focusing on generic components of innate immunity is important, as the mechanisms underlying innate recognition, is simply unknown.

Our Highlights

Recent Fellowship Success

  • Prof. Jamie Rossjohn Fellow of Academy of Medical Sciences
  • Prof. Jamie Rossjohn Fellow of Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences
  • Dr Jerome Le Nours ARC Future fellow.
  • Prof. Jamie Rossjohn ARC Australian Laureate Fellow
  • Dr Richard Berry Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship
  • Dr Gabby Watson ASBMB Fellowship
  • Dr Karin Schmidt Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow
  • Dr Martin Davey ARC DECRA Fellow

Academia-Industry

  • Monash and Janssen Multi Year Research Collaboration

Mentorship

  • Future students

Outreach

Our Current Projects

The academic research program within this laboratory is concerned with defining the key molecular interactions underlying receptor recognition events that are the primary determinants of innate and adaptive immunity. The laboratory’s research has provided an understanding of the basis of peptide, metabolite and lipid presentation, T-cell triggering, aberrant T-cell reactivity, monomorphic and polymorphic Natural Killer (NK) receptor recognition.

The team’s research on anti-viral immunity has provided an understanding of the factors that shape MHC-restriction (e.g. Immunity, 2003, 2016; Nature Immunol, 2005, 2007, 2015). Moreover, we have demonstrated how the preTCR, a receptor crucial for T-cell development, functions by autonomous dimerization (Nature, 2010). In relation to aberrant T-cell reactivity, our team has provided insight into alloreactivity (Immunity, 2009), Celiac Disease (Immunity, 2012; NSMB, 2014) and HLA-linked drug hypersensitivities (Nature, 2012, NSMB 2014). Regarding innate and innate-like recognition, the team has shed light into how Natural Killer cell receptors interact with their cognate ligands (Nature 2011; J. Exp. Med. 2008 & 2016; Nature Immunol 2013; NSMB 2017; Cell 2017).

Further, we have provided fundamental insight into how T cells recognise lipid-based antigens in the context of protective and aberrant immunity (Nature, 2007; Nature Immunol 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016; Nature Comms. 2016). Most recently, our team identified the long sought after ligand for MAIT cells, namely showing that MAIT cells are activated by metabolites of vitamin B (Nature 2012, 2014; Nat Commun 2012; Nat Immunol 2016; Nat Immunol, 2017). The industrial research program of the laboratory includes a close collaboration with Janssen (one of the Pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson), for the development of new therapies to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psorasis.

Research Projects

Calling all MAITs: teaming up to solve the intricacies of the immune system

Specialised immune cells, called MAIT cells, receive activation signals from the immune system to fight bacteria. Without the right signals and guidance, they can contribute to cancer and autoimmune diseases. Little was known about how signals were provided to MAIT cells, until now. Australian-based researchers have zoomed in on the molecular intricacies of the ‘go’ […]

Vision Australia Radio interview – Erica on accessibility in the arts

Kenneth Phua recently invited Dr Erica Tandori of Monash University onto his program ‘Seeing Without Eyes’ to discuss accessibility in the arts. Art can be and should be accessible to the total population and not just a select few. If you love the arts, this is an interview highlight from Vision Australia Radio in Perth […]

Vision Australia Radio interview – Erica on Art & Ophthalmology

Kenneth Phua recently invited Dr Erica Tandori of Monash University onto his program ‘Seeing Without Eyes’ to discuss accessibility in the arts. Kenneth enjoyed the discussion so much he invited Erica back once again to hear more about her career. Erica discusses her vision loss, her experience of dealing with the medical industry and finding […]

Discovery of new T-cell raises prospect of ‘universal’ cancer therapy

Researchers at Cardiff University have discovered a new type of killer T-cell that offers hope of a “one-size-fits-all” cancer therapy. T-cell therapies for cancer – where immune cells are removed, modified and returned to the patient’s blood to seek and destroy cancer cells – are the latest paradigm in cancer treatments. The most widely-used therapy, […]