John Stambas

Full Name: Dr John Stambas
Position Title: Senior Lecturer in Medical Biology
Telephone: +61 3 522 75740
Campus: CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory
john stambas




Research overview

Research in the laboratory is primarily focused on understanding immune responses following virus infection and vaccination. The main scientific aim is to carefully dissect immune responses following infection and vaccination to determine relevant immune correlates of protection in order to drive innovative strategies for future vaccine development.


  1. Evaluation of low and high pathogenicity A/H5N1 influenza virus infection and implications for human health
    In 2009, pandemic H1N1 influenza virus crossed the species barrier resulting in a mild infection and death in susceptible populations. Avian H5N1 influenza virus infection also has the potential to cause a human pandemic. Currently 60% of humans and all chickens die after infection. Surprisingly the duck is less susceptible and the reasons for this are not well understood. By studying the immune responses in ducks, chickens and other models used to represent human infections (ferret and mouse) we aim to discover the parameters essential for survival.

  2. Identification of pathogenicity and virulence determinants for swine-origin H1N1 influenza virus
    Reverse genetics technology allows scientists to dissect virulence, pathogenicity and immunity. This technology is currently being used to dissect the contribution of swine-origin H1N1 09 influenza A virus gene segments to virus replication and pathogenicity.

  3. Recombinant influenza viruses as HIV vaccine vectors
    Dr Stambas has a strong track record in the development of HIV vaccine strategies. HIV usually gains entry into the human body via mucosal sites, more often than not, the genital tract. By manipulating the genes of influenza A viruses, we haved introduce HIV epitopes/proteins to these viruses for use as vaccine delivery vehicles. This has stimulated immune responses at the site of viral entry that might in turn prevent infection. We are currently comparing routes of vaccination (nasal and genital tract) in murine models to determine the best available strategy. The quality of virus-specific lymphocytes generated following vaccination is being evaluated using cutting-edge technology. Promising strategies continue to be assessed into the non-human primate model through a long-standing and very successful collaboration with Professor Stephen Kent, University of Melbourne.

  4. Understanding the immune response to Hendra infection
    Hendra virus was identified in 1994 in Queensland. In nature, Hendra virus is harboured by Australian flying foxes where it causes subclinical infection. Recent sustained outbreaks in horses in 2011 are now increasing concerns of zoonotic infection. With collaborators at CSIRO AAHL, Dr Linfa Wang and Dr Deborah Middleton, we intend to study pathogenesis and immunity in a newly established mouse model to better understand disease progression in order to develop new therapeutic agents.



Dr Stambas completed his B.Sc (Hons) and Ph.D in the laboratory of Assoc. Prof. Christina Cheers at the University of Melbourne where he trained as a cellular immunologist. He then moved to St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee in 2002 to work for Laureate Professor Peter Doherty where he developed his skills in viral immunology and HIV vaccine development. Dr Stambas returned to Peter Doherty's Melbourne laboratory in 2004 where he established cutting edge techniques such as influenza virus reverse genetics and the in vivo cytotoxicity assay. In 2008, Dr Stambas was awarded a prestigious three year, University of Melbourne, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences C.R. Roper Fellowship that he relinquished in November 2009 to take up a Senior Lecturing position at Deakin University, School of Medicine. He is the Head of the AAHL CSIRO Deakin Collaborative biosecurity laboratory and is the first joint appointment between the two institutions as part of a signed memorandum of understanding. Dr Stambas is a member of the American Association of Immunologists and Australasian Society for Immunology. He sits on the Immunology Group of Victoria committee. Dr Stambas has been awarded numerous highly competitive research grants including: NHMRC Project Grants, a NHMRC Strategic Award to study swine origin H1N1 influenza virus, a Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Exploration Grant and an Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Virology Research grant. He holds numerous patents and publishes consistently in high impact journals. Dr Stambas has been invited to present his scientific research at local, national and international conferences. He is also an active contributor to the scientific discipline by organising conferences, reviewing papers and supervising graduate students and research assistants.

View Dr John Stambas's publications


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