Our Staff

The Dendritic Cell Research group is headed by Professor Derek Hart who leads a dedicated and accomplished team of Scientists, PhD and Honours Students and Administration staff.

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The Dendritic Cell Research group

About Our People

Please click below to learn more about our people, their experiences and specialties:
RESEARCHERS
ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF
DOCTORAL STUDENTS
HONOURS STUDENTS

RESEARCHERS

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Professor Derek Hart

Prof Hart has made major scientific and clinical contributions, particularly in relation to his special interest in dendritic cells (DC), immunotherapy and BMT. He is a Rhodes Scholar and RCPA Distinguished Fellow. Prof Hart directed the Christchurch Clinical Haematology Unit and BMT Unit and left it with a significant research reputation, including UK MRC trial participation. He completed 11 years as the inaugural Mater Medical Research Institute Director in Brisbane and created a strong translational program including clinical cell therapy trials. His team’s anti-CD83 immunosuppressive technology is being developed by the CRC- Biomarker Translation, which he co-founded. His leadership helped create the new Queensland Translational Institute.

Prof Hart recently moved to the University of Sydney to establish the DC Researcher Group at the ANZAC Research Institute with translational collaborative research at RPA, Westmead and Concord Hospitals. His human DC research program leads the field, including being the first to clone several CD antigens and define several human DC subsets. The Group continues to define DC cell surface antigens including important immune regulator genes and novel gene deleted mouse models. New preclinical humanized mouse models are being used to define other translational applications e.g. new DC targeted vaccines, a trial to predict AGVHD, novel anti – DC immune-suppressive agents and a new antibody for acute myeloid leukemia.

Prof Hart has published 260 peer reviewed articles with over 8032 citations. He is a member of the NHMRC Academy, co-chairs the International Society for Cell Therapy DC Committee and his Group is on the WHO/CD Committee. He chairs the Ramaciotti Foundation SAB and Institute of Glycomics Advisory Board and serves on the ABMDR Ethics Committee. Furthermore he has recently been selected as recipient of the 2012 John & Eileen Haddon Grant for Geriatric Research. Prof Hart has been invited to speak at many national and international conferences and continues to host the popular “DC Down Under” annual DC scientific symposium.

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Associate Professor Georgina Clark

Associate Professor Georgina Clark completed her PhD in molecular immunology at the University of Melbourne. She continued her studies in leucocyte surface molecules undertaking postdoctoral work at the University of Oxford, UK and the University of Otago, New Zealand where she joined Professor Hart’s group studying the molecules found on the surface of dendritic cells.

Assoc/Prof Clark was instrumental in setting up the Mater Medical Research Institute in Queensland before joining the ANZAC Research Institute, University of Sydney in 2010.

At the ANZAC Research Institute, she continues her interest in translational research and leucocyte surface molecules by developing antibody mediated therapies to treat haematological malignancies.

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Dr Pablo Silveira 

Dr Silveira was awarded his PhD from the University of Sydney in 2000 for research analysing the genetic mechanisms conferring susceptibility to autoimmune gastritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. He subsequently joined the laboratory of Prof. David Serreze at The Jackson Laboratory (Maine, USA) as a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) postdoctoral fellow, where he began research on the role of B lymphocytes in Type 1 Diabetes.

In 2003, he was awarded an NHMRC Peter Doherty fellowship to continue his work on B lymphocytes in Type 1 Diabetes in Australia, first at the Centenary Institute (Sydney, NSW) and then as head of a research group at the Garvan Institute (Sydney, NSW).

He joined the DCR Group at the ANZAC Research Institute in 2012, where he has turned his research focus to novel molecules on dendritic cells that can be used as therapeutic targets to control inflammation associated with haematopoietic stem cell transplantation or autoimmune disease.

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Dr Phillip Fromm 

Dr Phillip Fromm completed a PhD in cellular immunology elucidating the role of tumor necrosis factor and its receptors in the development of dendritic cells and monocytes during inflammation. Since joining the Dendritic Cell Research group at the ANZAC Research Institute in 2011 he has become progressively more involved in the identification and characterisation of human blood dendritic cells.

Dr Fromm is also internationally recognised for his technical expertise in identification and characterisation of cell surface molecules of immune cells subsets, with a particular interest in analysis of high dimensional single cell proteomic data to provide new information regarding the immune system. He has been extensively involved in practical aspects in the 10th human leukocyte differentiation workshop facilitating unbiased characterization of antibody specificities to white blood cells particularly antigen presenting cells using cutting edge informatics.

Dr Fromm also has a strong focus on translational approaches to human dendritic cell biology, with a particular emphasis on developing active immune therapies for the treatment of haematological and solid organ malignancies such as acute myeloid leukaemia, multiple myeloma and prostate cancer. Dr Fromm’s translational interests have also supported a recent description of trogocytosis as a novel means of immune evasion in multiple myeloma. His work on DC characterisation resulted in the identification of a novel CD56+ in vitro derived DC with capable of direct cytotoxic activity, and the identification of a novel human glucocorticoid resistant plasmacytoid DC that resulted from observations in patients with multiple myeloma.

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Dr Xinsheng Ju 

Dr Xinsheng Ju studied medicine for six years and received another three year medical science training in China, then he moved back to clinic as a haematologist. Since 1997, he continued his studies in University Hospital of Geneva (Geneva, Switzerland), Max Delbruck Centre for Molecular Medicine (Berlin, Germany) and University Hospital of RWTH (Aachen, Germany).

In 1999, he was awarded German DAAD post doctoral fellowship. In 2006 he joined Prof Derek Hart’s laboratory at the Mater Research Institute, Brisbane focusing on studying regulatory molecule CD300a on dendritic cell function.

In 2014, he re-joined Prof Derek Hart at ANZAC Medical Research Institutes DCR Group to continue his long term interests on DC biology and targeting DC specific molecule to control GVHD and chronic infectious diseases.

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Dr Jennifer Hsu

Dr Jennifer Hsu completed her PhD with Professor Hart in 2009, developing the CMRF-56 immunoselected blood dendritic cell technology and its application in multiple myeloma.

She then went on to work in industry looking at novel vaccine technologies for solid cancers. In 2014, Dr Hsu rejoined Professor Hart and the ANZAC Medical Research Institute’s DCR group working in the Department of Haematology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Dr Hsu’s clinical research focuses on dendritic cell biology and immune therapies for haematological malignancy.

Ahmed

Dr Ahmed Mekkawy

Dr Mekkawy completed his PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2011. His thesis focused on the interaction between a cell surface receptor and other proteins that influence cancer progression. Then, he continued his research on cancer molecular biology and therapeutics as a postdoctoral researcher at UNSW.

He was awarded a number of prizes and awards for his work including the Dean’s rising star award from UNSW, the award acknowledges outstanding achievements of postdoctoral staff.

He joined the DCR Group at the ANZAC Research Institute in 2015, where he has turned his research focus to leukocyte surface receptors that can be used as therapeutic targets to control autoimmune diseases or cancer.

Fiona Kupresanin

Fiona Kupresanin completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at The University of Melbourne in 2003, and more recently a Master of Dietetics degree at Deakin University. She gained several years of Research Assistant experience at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute before joining the Dendritic Cell Research group in 2012.

Fiona has recently taken on a Laboratory Management role for the group and continues to assist technically in the areas of flow cytometry, cell culture, confocal microscopy, molecular biology and animal handling.

ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

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Donna Bonnici

Donna has an administrative background working for non for profit organisations and government, taking on roles as Course Secretary, Professional Development Officer and Membership Officer.  

Donna originally started working with Prof Hart back in 2010 when the group commenced in Sydney, returning in late 2014.

DOCTORAL STUDENTS

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Dr Robin Gasiorowski

Robin Gasiorowski undertook medical training at Cambridge University and University College London before moving to Australia in 2004. Following specialist haematology training at Royal Prince Alfred and Concord Hospitals he now works as a clinical and laboratory haematologist looking after a broad range of patients with both malignant and non-malignant haematological conditions.

He has a particular interest in myeloid malignancies and is currently completing a PhD with the Dendritic Cell Research group, developing novel antibody therapies for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. For the past two years Robin has also run the haematology teaching program for Sydney University medical students based at Concord Hospital.

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Dr Christian Bryant

Christian Bryant underwent medical training at the University of New South Wales. Following training in the speciality of Haematology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital he commenced a PhD through the Dendritic Cell Research group and RPA Institute of Haematology Research Unit.

He has particular interests in Multiple Myeloma, tumour immunology, plasmacytoid dendritic cell biology and the translation of dendritic cell immunotherapy into clinical practice.

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Michael Papadimitrious

Michael Papadimitrious completed his Bachelor of Science (honours) researching efflux mediated multi drug resistance of the nosocomial pathogen, Acinetobacter baumannii. Directly after his honours research, he went on to work for SA Pathology in the Human Immunology directorate where he worked in the autoimmunity, cellular immunology and allergy diagnostic laboratories.

After several years of diagnosing disease, he went on to further his research skills where he was employed by the CRC-Biomarker Translation with Professor Heddy Zola at the Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute. It is from his experience as a research assistant that his interest in medical research developed. He then sought a PhD in translational science and commenced his PhD under the supervision of Professor Derek Hart in 2013.

His PhD research examines the development of an anti-tumour immune response by electroporating blood dendritic cells with tumour antigen mRNA. This methodology is currently being optimised with FMP mRNA and the AML antigen, WT1.

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Kevin (Tsun Ho) Lo

Kevin Lo is an international student from Hong Kong. He completed the Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) degree at the University of Sydney in 2013 with the Dendritic Cell Research group.

During honours year, Kevin focused his studies on a dendritic cell surface molecule termed CD302 under the supervision of Dr. Pablo Silveira and was awarded first class honours for his thesis.

In the following year, Kevin has commenced into his PhD with the Group to further study the biology of CD302 and its potential to be a therapeutic target.

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Dr. Blake (Wei-Hsun) Hsu

Blake undertook his undergraduate medical training at the University of Otago in New Zealand before moving to Sydney in 2009 to commence his physicians training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. 

Following 3 years of specialist haematology training at Royal Prince Alfred and Concord Hospitals, he is commencing a PhD programme in his final year of specialist training with the Dendritic Cell Research group. The focus of his PhD will be on a novel treatment/prevention of graft versus host disease (GVHD) following allogeneic stem cell transplant in a mouse model.

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Dr Ziduo (Cindy) Li

Ziduo practiced as a registered oncology physician in Beijing with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Biology degree.

Following relocating to Sydney in 2015, she commenced a PhD program focusing her study on evaluation of anti-CD83 monoclonal antibodies for the diagnosis and treatment of lymphomas through the Dendritic Cell Research group, under the supervision of Dr. Xinsheng Ju and Professor Hart.

Kate

Kate (Hsiao-Ting) Chen

Kate completed the Bachelor of Medical Science degree at the University of Sydney in 2014. Kate was awarded the Sydney Medical School Summer Research Scholarships in 2014 and worked in the group of Centre of Transplant and Renal Research at Westmead Millennium Institute focusing on modification and validation of the Westmead existing panels as well as the application on fresh or frozen patient samples under the supervision of Dr. Min Hu.

Kate is currently an Honours student in the Dendritic Cell Research Group. Her research is focussed on characterisation of an novel human CD83 knock-in mouse strain to examine a potential immunosuppressive therapeutic antibody 3C12C targeting human CD83 on immune cells under the supervision of Dr. Pablo Silveira.

Ben

Ben Kong

Ben Kong studied Medicine at the University of Sydney, completing his general medical training at Concord Hospital and specialist training in medical oncology at Westmead Hospital, where he gained experience in clinical trials of immunotherapy for melanoma, lung and genitourinary cancers.

He has an interest in immunotherapy and drug development and is currently completing a PhD with the Dendritic Cell Research group, investigating dendritic cell vaccines for use as an adjunct during treatment for the brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme).

Prior to training as a medical oncologist, Ben obtained a Bachelor of Science with Honours in physical chemistry from the University of Sydney, a Diploma of Financial Markets from the Financial Services Institute of Australia a Graduate Certificate in Pharmaceutical Medicine from the University of New South Wales and has worked as a pharmaceutical industry analyst in the United Kingdom.

Sarah Sutherland

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