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 (2017-21), NHMRC Investigator L3 Fellow (2022-26) and previously a NHMRC Australia Fellow (2011-16) and ARC Federation Fellow (2007-11). He is the former Head of the Infection and Immunity Program (2016-19) 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 > 457 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 NHMRC Investigator Leadership 3 Fellowship
  • Dr Julian Vivian Victorian Cancer Agency Mid-Career Research Fellowship (Biomedical Stream)
  • Dr Wael Awad ARC DECRA Fellow
  • Dr Adam Shahine ARC DECRA Fellow
  • Dr Martin Davey ARC DECRA Fellow
  • Dr Anouk von Borstel ASI Postdoc Career Advancement Award
  • Dr Wael Awad Proteins 2021 – Robin Anders Young Investigator Award
  • Dr Karin Schmidt Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow
  • Dr Jerome Le Nours ARC Future fellow (2016-20)
  • Prof. Jamie Rossjohn ARC Australian Laureate Fellow (2016-21)

Academia-Industry

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; Nature Rev Immunol 2018). 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; Cell 2019) 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; PNAS 2018).

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, 2018; 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, 2017, 2020). 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 Celiac Disease; and Immutep, to enhance our understanding of T-cell signalling and the development of innovative biotechnology products.

Research Projects

Uncovering how T cells recognise the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein

The immune system is vitally important for resolving COVID-19 when individuals are infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Moreover, the vaccines that are being administered to millions of people across the globe are designed to ‘pre-warn and arm’ the immune system so that if infected with SARS-CoV-2, individuals are significantly less likely to develop severe disease […]

Over $43m awarded to Monash researchers in latest round of NHMRC Investigator Grants

Monash University has been awarded more than $43 million in National Health and Medical Research Council Investigator Grants, and a new Centre for Research Excellence, to support the work of more than 30 research leaders. Better treatments for autoimmune kidney disease and vasculitis, better understanding of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, improving the efficacy of […]

Congratulations Jamie – NHMRC Investigator grant

Congratulations to Jamie, Head of the Rossjohn / Immune Recognition lab, who has been named as a successful NHMRC Investigator (L3) grant holder  in the recent grant round (funding commencing 2022). Investigator Grants is NHMRC’s flagship scheme which accounts for 40% of the Medical Research Endowment Account. It consolidates previously separate fellowship and research support […]

Listen to Erica’s interview with Vision Australia Radio

Focal Point Podcast – 01 Sept 2021 A weekly program presented by Peter Greco, Focal Point covers services from blindness organisation (Eg. Vision Australia)  and other providers, technology, current affairs, breakthroughs in advocacy campaigns about all manner of challenges and promoting activities and events for people who are blind or vision impaired. This week Peter […]