Infection and immunity research

Our research aims to identify new strategies to combat diseases through improved prevention, surveillance and/or therapeutic approaches. We are working on a number of diseases that critically impact human health. These include malaria, influenza, HIV-1, Hendra virus and Helicobacter, as well as allergy, asthma and immunodeficiency.

Our bodies – through the immune system – are constantly at war with infectious agents and other environment insults. Understanding these components and the interplay between them allows us to shift the battlelines in our favour.

Professor Tania de Koning-Ward

Our research areas

The overarching goal of our research is to employ discovery-based approaches to identify new strategies to combat these diseases through improved prevention, surveillance and/or therapeutic approaches.

Our members utilise extensive animal models, such as mouse, ferret, bat, chicken and zebrafish. They are supported by sophisticated genome engineering, high-resolution microscopy, molecular and bioinformatics approaches, as well as clinical studies.

Our extensive research includes the following areas:

Bacterial invasion

Here we investigate the interplay between the host and bacterial pathogens that are important in human health, such as Helicobacter pylori and Clostridium difficile.


This research dissects how malaria parasites are able to drastically remodel their host cells, a process central to parasite survival, immune evasion and virulence. To do this we utilise transgenesis approaches in human and mouse models.


Here we dissect the molecular and structural aspects of HIV-1 during assembly and entry, with the aim of understanding the biology and pathogenicity of this virus for the development of novel diagnostic tools and antiviral agents.

Emerging infectious diseases

We are investigating the structural biology and pathogenicity of important EIDs, such as Hendra and Ebola viruses, in partnership with CSIRO (AAHL).

Immunology of influenza virus infection

Our research aims to define how influenza viruses manipulate host proteins and miRNAs to establish infection and to cause diseases.

Immune development and allergy

We are investigating the early life host–environment interactions that influence immune system development and the risk of allergic disease through the Barwon Infant Study – a population-based longitudinal study.

Blood and immune development and disease

We are aiming to understand the role of cytokine and other signalling pathways in blood and immune development, and its disruption in diseases such as leukaemia, neutropenia and immunodeficiency.

Molecular allergy

Our research aims to understand the molecular allergens underpinning life-threatening conditions, such as peanut and egg allergy, as well as asthma.

Biomarker discovery

We hope to identify and validate novel biomarkers (nucleic acids and proteins) that can be used for diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases and immune defects.

Breakthrough in quest for new malaria drugs

Joint Theme Leader Professor Tania de Koning-Ward and her team have made a breakthrough in the scientific understanding of malaria that could lead to its potential eradication within two decades.

visit professor de koning-ward's profile

It was the most exciting moment of my career. We ditched the faculty Christmas party and my group returned to the lab to work into the evening – we were so excited about the implications of this discovery.

Professor Tania de Koning-Ward

Joint Theme Leader

Our team


Theme Leader
Professor Tania de Koning-Ward 
Dean of Medicine
Professor Jon Watson 
Director, Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (GCEID)
Professor Soren Alexandersen 
Associate Head Of School (Research)
Professor Alister Ward 
Associate Professor Of Biomedical Science
Associate Professor Cenk Suphioglu 
Casual Academic
Associate Professor Eugene Athan 
Associate Professor Of Medical Biology
Associate Professor John Stambas 
Associate Professor In Paediatrics
Associate Professor Peter Vuillermin 
Senior Lecturer In Pharmacology
Dr Tamsyn Crowley
Lecturer in Medical Science
Dr Poshmaal Dhar

Contact us

Centre for Molecular and Medical Research (C-MMR)
General enquiries
+61 3 5227 2041
Email C-MMR

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Centre for Molecular and Medical Research
School of Medicine
Deakin University
Locked Bag 20000
Geelong VIC 3220