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
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
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 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 Donna Bonnici
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.