Study level

  • Vacation research experience scheme


Topic status

In progress.


Dr Alison Carey
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health

External supervisors

  • Dr Emily Bryan


Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular, bacterial pathogen. Chlamydia infections of the human reproductive tract affect approximately 131 million people globally each year. The major concern of chlamydial infections is its ability to cause infertility in both men and women, by damaging the upper reproductive tracts.

The testis is a tightly regulated, immune-privileged, environment. The key cell types (Macrophages, Leydig, Sertoli and Germ cells) each play a specific role in regulating spermatogenesis (production of sperm).

Our lab has found that chlamydial infections disseminate to the testis, using immune cells such as macrophages, and significantly disrupt spermatogenesis. This has profound effects on male fertility, including reduced sperm motility and sperm-egg binding and increased DNA damage to the sperm. However, the mechanism of damage in the testis is unknown.

The aim of our work, and this project, is to determine exactly which testicular cell type becomes infected in the testis, what effects this has on the specific cell type, and how it disrupts the testicular environment. There may also be the opportunity to contribute to projects that examine if vaccination against chlamydia protects male fertility.

Research activities

This project will use testicular cells isolated from mice and established cell lines to examine the effects of chlamydial infection on each cell types function. Cells will be infected and infection progress will be monitored using fluorescent microscopy. Secreted factors such as cytokines and testosterone will be examined using ELISAs and differential gene expression may also be examined.

This project is funded by the National Health & Medical Research Council and will occur in the QUT Centre for Immunology & Infection Control labs based at QIMRB. These labs are fully equipped with the appropriate cell culture rooms and animal facilities.


You will be involved in and develop experience in:

  • laboratory experiments
  • data collection
  • data entry
  • data analysis.

Skills and experience

You should have experience or understanding of:

  • basic lab techniques
  • cell culture
  • aseptic technique
  • molecular skills (PCR).



Contact the supervisor for more information.