Our Team

 

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

About Our Team

OUR FOUNDER

Professor Derek Hart

Prof Hart made major scientific and clinical contributions, particularly in relation to his special interest in dendritic cells (DC), immunotherapy and BMT. He was 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 was developed by the CRC- Biomarker Translation, which he co-founded. His leadership helped create the new Queensland Translational Institute.

In 2010 Prof Hart moved to the University of Sydney to establish the DC Biology and Therapeutics Group, now known as Dendritic Cell Research (DCR) Group at the ANZAC Research Institute with translational collaborative research at RPA, Westmead and Concord Hospitals. His human DC research program lead the field, including being the first to clone several CD antigens and define several human DC subsets. DCR 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 was very active in commercialising his discoveries taking out key patents and establishing in 2013, a spin-off company Dendrocyte BioTech which works towards developing new dendritic cell-based immune therapies.

Prof Hart had published over 260 peer reviewed articles with over 14,000 citations. He was a member of the NHMRC Academy, co-chaired the International Society for Cell Therapy DC Committee and his Group was on the WHO/CD Committee. He chaired the Ramaciotti Foundation Scientific Advisory Board, Sydney Catalyst T1T2 Working Group, Institute of Glycomics Advisory Board and served on the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry Ethics Committee. Prof Hart had been invited to speak and chair at over 200 national and international conferences and hosted the popular “DC Down Under” annual DC scientific symposium for over 15 years.

Prof Hart passed away in December 2017 of metastatic cancer.  In his honour the DCR Group is continuing his legacy, the Ramaciotti Foundations have a yearly Derek Hart Memorial Award, as well as Sydney Catalyst’s yearly Prof Derek Hart Travel and Education Award.

DENDRITIC CELL RESEARCH GROUP

Associate Professor Georgina Clark

Group Leader

1989 PhD The University of Melbourne

A/Prof Clark set up Dendritic Cell Research (DCR) at the ANZAC Research Institute alongside the late Professor Derek Hart. Her interest lies in translational research developing antibodies to leucocyte surface molecules into immune therapies. The group’s translational pipeline from discovery of novel molecules (CD300 family, CD302, CD205, CD83, CMRF-56, CMRF-44) expressed by myeloid lineage cells including dendritic cells, generating new mAbs and investigating the function of the novel molecules. mAbs to CD300 molecules, CD302 and CD83 are being developed as targeted therapy for haematological malignancies including acute myeloid leukemia and lymphomas. CD83 is being developed for the prevention of immune responses leading to graft versus host disease following haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. CMRF-56 and CMRF-44 mAbs are being developed to target antigen to DC or as part of our DC cell purification platform as we develop DC vaccination for the treatment of prostate cancer and glioblastoma.

A/Prof Clark holds patent applications surrounding the IP of these mAbs and these are managed by the IP holding company, DendroCyte BioTech Pty Ltd. A/Prof Clark is a director of DendrotCyte.  This provides a mechanism for the translation and commercialisation of human therapeutic antibodies.

A/Prof Clark is active member of Sydney Catalyst, contributing to their Scientific Advisory Committee, the Australasian Society for Immunology, and the Human Cell Differentiation Molecule Nomenclature Committee She chaired the International consortium for the Tenth Human Leucocyte Differentiation Antigen Workshop.

A/Prof Georgina Clark completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in molecular immunology in the early days of cloning cell surface molecules. She continued her studies on leucocyte surface molecules undertaking postdoctoral work at the Nuffield Department of Surgery, University of Oxford, UK. Following Oxford, Dr Clark moved to the Canterbury Health Laboratories in Christchurch New Zealand and the Christchurch Medical School at University of Otago, New Zealand where she joined Professor Hart’s group studying the molecules found on the surface of dendritic cells. A/Prof Clark was instrumental in setting up the Mater Medical Research Institute in Queensland, lead a proteomics project for the Cooperative Research Centre for Biomarker Translation before joining the ANZAC Research Institute, University of Sydney in 2010.

A/Prof Clark has participated in bringing Science to the community as part of the Scientists in Schools programs and organising World Day of Immunology events.

A/Prof Clark has contributed as CI or named co-investigator on over $15M of grant funding. She has contributed to the establishment of major research startups including the MMRI, DCR at the ANZAC Research Institute and DendroCyte BioTech Pty Ltd. She has 45 publications including the seminal publications describing the CD300 family of molecules (reviewed in Clark et al., Trends in Immunol, 2009, Ju et al., Blood 2008), novel human DC subsets (Jongbloed et al, J Exp Med, 2010), new targets for haematological disease (Ju et al, J Immunol, 2017) and new CDs (Engel et al J Immunol 2016). She has been cited over 2000 times. She has been the recipient of awards such as a Young Investigator and the Jansson-Cilag Prize from the Transplantation Society of Australia.

Dr Pablo Silveira

Senior Hospital Scientist

2001 PhD The University of Sydney

Dr Silveira joined the Dendritic Cell Research Group in 2012, where his research is focussed on novel molecules on dendritic cells that can be used as therapeutic targets to control inflammation associated with haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, solid organ transplantation or autoimmune disease.

Dr Silveira was awarded his PhD from the University of Sydney in 2001 for research analysing the genetic mechanisms conferring susceptibility to autoimmune diseases. He subsequently trained as a postdoctoral scientist under Professor David Serreze at The Jackson Laboratory (Maine, USA), where he studied the role of B lymphocytes in Type 1 Diabetes. In 2003, he was awarded an NHMRC Peter Doherty fellowship to continue his work on Type 1 Diabetes in Australia, first at the Centenary Institute (Sydney, Australia) and then as head of a research group at the Garvan Institute (Sydney, Australia).

Dr Silveira’s recent publications have shown the first systematic characterization of CD83 expression in the human immune system and in lymphoma (published in the Journal of Immunology & Haematologica). His work with a xenogeneic GVHD model demonstrated the immunosuppressive properties of the therapeutic anti-CD83 monoclonal antibody 3C12C, published in Leukemia. He was invited to present this work at the International Pancreas and Islet Transplantation Association/International Xenotransplantation Association/Cell Transplant Society Joint Congress (Melbourne, Australia). He played a leading role in characterising the dendritic cell migration function of the novel C-type lectin receptor, CD302, which was published in the Journal of Immunology and was presented at the International Symposium of Dendritic Cells (Aachen, Germany). Recent work with Westmead Hospital collaborators led to the development of a new clinically relevant reduced intensity conditioning model of graft versus host disease published in Transplantation. He was invited to present this model at The Transplantation Society International Meeting (Madrid, Spain).

Dr Xinsheng Ju

Senior Hospital Scientist

1983 – 1989 Faculty of Medicine, Secondary Military Medical University, Shanghai, P. R. China. Bachelor of Medicine (MB BS, 1989)
1989 – 1992 Chinese Academy of Military Medical Science, Beijing, P. R. China, Master of Medical Science (M.Sc.1992)

Dr Ju re-joined Professor Derek Hart, Dendritic Cell Research group in 2014 to continue his long term interests on DC biology and targeting CD83 molecule to control graft versus host disease (GVHD) and treat haematological malignancies.

Dr 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 doctor fellowship. In 2006 Dr Ju joined Professor Derek Hart’s laboratory Dendritic Cell Research Program at the Mater Medical Institute (Brisbane, Australia) focusing on studying regulatory molecule CD300a on dendritic cell function.

Dr Ju received a German DAAD post doctor fellowship from 1999 to 2001.  He has published several papers in peer reviewed journals including Nature Immunol 4: 380, 2003; J Exp Med 207: 1247, 2010; Blood 112: 1184, 2008; J Immunol 192: 1982, 2014; J Immunol 197: 4613, 2016; Leukemia 30: 692, 2016; Haematologica 103: 655, 2018.

Ms Fiona Kupresanin

Laboratory Manager

2003 Bachelor of Biomedical Science, University of Melbourne
2012 Master of Dietetics, Deakin University

Fiona joined the Dendritic Cell Research group in 2012 taking on the role of Laboratory Manager. She also assists technically in the areas of flow cytometry, cell culture, confocal microscopy, molecular biology and animal handling.

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.

Fiona has contributed to a wide range of projects leading to publications both in DCR and previously at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

Ms Adelina Romano

Research Assistant

2016 BMedSci (Hons I Physiology), University of Sydney

Adelina is a research assistant for DCR working both at the ANZAC Research Institute and the Charles Perkins Centre on University of Sydney’s central campus. At DCR, she characterises primary human dendritic cell subsets using flow cytometry and molecular techniques.

In 2016, Adelina completed an undergraduate degree in Medical Science, majoring in Immunology and Biochemistry. During her Honours year, she studied a newly-identified macrophage population in the mouse yolk sac at the Blood Cell Development Laboratory, Bosch Institute, NSW. For this project she was awarded a travelling fellowship to Kyushu University, Japan, to further characterise the transcription factors regulating these cells.

Awarded a Travelling Fellowship, in Development, from the Company of Biologists (2016).  Achieving a First Class Honours degree.

Dr Con Tsonis

Project Manager

Dr Tsonis has a Bachelor of Science with Honours from Adelaide University, and a PhD in Endocrinology from Monash University. He also holds an MBA from the Graduate School of Business, Macquarie University and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Dr Tsonis served as Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Edinburgh working with Professor David Baird at the Centre for Reproductive Biology and Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. He has authored over 50 scientific publications, including patents.

Dr Tsonis consults as a Project Manager to Dendritic Cell Research (DCR) and, has more than 25 years’ management experience in the healthcare, biotechnology and the life science sectors. He has worked as an Executive in Life Science companies including; Managing Director of Miltenyi Biotec; Director of Biosciences at Baxter Healthcare; and Managing Director of Opsoma Limited, a biotechnology start-up.

In 2015 he negotiated an assignment deal with TransBio for anti-CD83 technology transfer into the DendroCyte BioTech start-up company, commercialising all of DCR’s intellectual property. In 2018, he also negotiated a deal with the University of Sydney for the assignment of the immune signature technology into the ImmuneSignatures subsidiary of DendroCyte. Dr Tsonis currently consults as a Project Manager to DCR and is also Director and CEO of DC Vaccines and ImmuneSignatures subsidiaries and CEO of DendroCyte BioTech, driving translational research.

Ms Donna Bonnici

Executive Assistant

Donna joined DCR when it first moved to Sydney in 2010 acting as Executive Assistant to Professor Derek Hart and now Associate Professor Georgina Clark. She has contributed to setting up DCR in its new facilities and provides the support required to run a world class research group. Donna uses her skills for maintaining the research networks, completing administrative requirements for ethics, grants and students. Her event management skills are used to convene the DC DownUnder Symposium which is one of Australia key symposia dedicated to dendritic cell based diagnostics and therapeutics.

Donna has an administrative background holding roles which include Course Secretary, professional development officer and membership officer for not for profit and government organisations such as the Physiotherapy Association NSW and ACT branches and The Children’s Hospital as Westmead. She has provided office management skills to small business. She contributes to community organisations in event management and the Maltese community.

Ms Kate (Hsiao-Ting) Chen

PhD Student

2005 B. Sci. Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology at Chung Shan Medical University, Taiwan
2015 Med. Science (1st class honours) at the University of Sydney

During Kate’s honour year with Dendritic Cell Research Group, she focused on characterization of a novel human CD83 knock-in mouse model to examine a potential immunosuppressive therapeutic antibody 3C12C targeting human CD83 on immune cells under the supervision of Dr Pablo Silveira. Her work was recognized and awarded the Concord Early Career Research Award in 2015.

In the following year, Kate was awarded Australian Postgraduate Award to continue as a PhD student with the group. Her current research interest is focused on characterization of the immune function of the CD300e immune regulatory molecule by using a CD300e knock-out mice model under the supervision of Associate Professor Georgina Clark.

Kate was awarded the Sydney Medical School Summer Research Scholarship 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 was the recipient of the Concord Repatriation General Hospital Early Career Research Award in 2015 and the University of Sydney, Australian Postgraduate Award in March 2016. In 2017 Kate received the University of Sydney, Research Training Program Stipend to present a poster at the Australian Society for Medical Research Conference in Sydney. Kate received a Concord Repatriation General Hospital Conference Travel and Postgraduate Research Support Scheme Awards in 2018 to travel to The American Association of Immunologist international conference in Austin, Texas (USA) where she presented a poster of her current experiments.

Dr Sarah Sutherland

PhD Student

Dr Sarah Sutherland is in her final year of specialist training in medical oncology at Concord Hospital and is using this year to commence her PhD investigating the use of dendritic cell vaccine strategies in prostate cancer.

Sarah completed her medical training at the University of Sydney followed by physicians training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) and two years of specialist training in Medical Oncology at the Chris O’brien Lifehouse, RPAH and Concord Hospital. Sarah has a special interest in immunotherapy and the biology behind cancer development. She completed an honours project looking at the role PTEN and mTOR in the development of prostate cancer at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research during her medical degree and prior to this completed a Bachelor of Science (Adv) with a major in biochemistry at the University of Sydney.

SUCCESSFUL PHD STUDENTS

Dr Christian Bryant
Dr Robin Gasiorowski
Dr Michael Papadimitrious
Dr Blake (Wei-Hsun) Hsu
Dr Kevin (Tsun-Ho) Lo
Dr Cindy (Ziduo) Li
Dr Edward Abadir
Dr Benjamin Kong

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