Rossjohn Laboratory

Understanding immune function and dysfunction.

Professor Jamie Rossjohn

Professor Jamie Rossjohn FAA FAHMS FLSW FMedSci FRS

Prof. Jamie Rossjohn’s research is centred on an understanding immunity. He is currently a NHMRC Investigator L3 Fellow (2022-26) and previously an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow (2017-21), NHMRC Australia Fellow (2011-16) and ARC Federation Fellow (2007-11). He was the former Head of the Infection and Immunity Program (2016-19) of the Biomedicine Discovery Institute. In 2022, Prof. Rossjohn was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society and Associate Member of EMBO.

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 > 465 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 and Award Success

  • Prof. Jamie Rossjohn elected Fellow of the Royal Society
  • Prof. Jamie Rossjohn elected Associate Member of EMBO
  • Prof. Jamie Rossjohn NHMRC Investigator Leadership 3 Fellowship
  • Dr Ben Gully, Future Leader Postdoctoral Fellowship 2023
  • Dr Praveena Thirunavukkarasu, ARC DECRA Fellow
  • Dr Wael Awad ARC DECRA Fellow
  • Dr Adam Shahine ARC DECRA Fellow
  • Dr Martin Davey ARC DECRA Fellow
  • Dr Laura Ciacchi, Monash Thesis BDI Highly commended Award for 2022
  • Dr Wael Awad 2022 Eppendorf Edman ECR Award
  • Dr Adam Shahine The Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Research – Early Career Researcher
  • Dr Anouk von Borstel ASI Postdoc Career Advancement 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

Congrats to Erica on the award of her National Science Week grant

Support for National Science Week celebrations A Dark Matter Road trip, sharing First Nations science and drone coding are just some of the projects receiving a share of close to $500,000 in grants to support National Science Week. With Australia’s national celebration of science and technology just around the corner, thirty-two grant recipients are gearing […]

postdoc

Near-universal T cell immunity towards a broad range of bacteria

Typically, T cells of the immune system respond to a specific feature (antigen) of a microbe, thereby generating protective immunity. As reported in the journal Immunity, an international team of scientists have discovered an exception to this rule. Namely, a group of divergent bacterial pathogens, including pneumococci, all share a small highly conserved protein sequence, which […]

Celebrating International Women’s Day

March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year’s theme is “Choose to Challenge,” which encourages everyone to challenge gender bias and inequality and create a more inclusive world. In the field of Science, women have made significant contributions, from Marie Curie’s groundbreaking […]

Congrats to our newly appointed BDI Group Leaders: Wael, Jan and Adam

Monash BDI announce new Group Leaders Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) is excited to announce 13 newly selected Group Leaders. These Group Leaders are part of a program created by Monash BDI to help early career researchers (ECRs) bridge the gap between senior postdoctoral fellow and independent lab head. Professor Dena Lyras, Deputy Director at […]