Study level

  • PhD


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Associate Professor Tony Kenna
Principal Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health
Professor Gene Tyson
Professor of Microbial Genomics
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health


Many human diseases are thought to involve interactions between the gut microbiome and the immune system which shape the nature and function of immunity. These interactions between host and environment are thought to be critical regulators of health and disease.

In autoimmune diseases many studies have associated presence or absence of particular microbial species with diseases and some studies have shown influence of disease-related genetics on the composition of the gut microbiome. However, no studies to date have formally addressed the question of how a healthy immune system responds to components of a healthy microbiome and whether immune cells from autoimmune patients behave differently to the same microbial challenge.

We aim to understand whether the immune response to a healthy microbiome differs between healthy controls and patients with autoimmune disorders.

Research activities

The study will use biobanked human immune cells from healthy subjects and patients with autoimmune disorders. Immune cells will be co-cultured with bacterial strains that represent a healthy microbiome and immune function read through high-content flow cytometry, RNA-sequecing and standard cell and molecular immunology techniques.


This study will generate entirely new knowledge about how normal immune systems respond to a healthy microbiome and how that response differs in the context of autoimmune disease.

You will receive world-class training in metagenomics and immunology and develop multidisciplinary skills that span ‘dry lab’ and ‘wet lab’ science.

Skills and experience

You should have Honours, MPhil or equivalent laboratory experience in immunology. Some knowledge of computational biology would be advantageous.



Contact the supervisor for more information.