Staff profile

Staff image

Prof Alister Ward

Position: Associate Head Of School (Research)
role description
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Health
Department: School of Medicine
Campus: Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus
Phone: +61 3 52272041 +61 3 52272041



  • Bachelor of Science, University of Melbourne, 1989
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Melbourne, 1994
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Melbourne, 2001


Member Australian Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology,Member Australian Society for Medical Research

Professional activities

CI-Ward has a strong presence in the local, national and international research community, illustrated by the following specific activities:

> Conference Organisation:
• 8th Australian & New Zealand Zebrafish Workshop, Geelong, Australia (2007)
- Organising Committee (Chair)
• Infection & Immunity Conference, Gold Coast, Australia (2009)
- Scientific Advisory Committee
• Emerging Infectious Diseases Conference, Geelong, Australia (2012)
- Scientific Advisory Committee
• 4th International One Health Conference, Melbourne, Australia (2016)
- Organising Committee

> Grant Review:
• Australian Research Council
- International Reader (2004-)
- College of Experts Member (2013-)
• National Health & Medical Research Council
- Project Grant Reviewer (2001-)
- Grant Review Panel Member (2011)

> Editorial Roles:
• Frontiers in Bioscience, Special Issue: ‘Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor and its receptor: roles in health and disease’
- Managing Editor (2007)
- Editorial Board Member (2012-)
• American Journal of Experimental and Clinical Immunology
- Editorial Board Member (2012-)
• Journal of Blood Diseases
- Editorial Board Member (2014-)

> Other Peer Review, etc:
• Regular manuscripts from >15 journals, including Blood, Haematologica, and J Immunol
• Judging panels, including ASMR Vic. Premier’s Award (2006-11,14), SMART Geelong Awards (2010,12-13)
• Regular theses (1-2/year)

> Research Training:
• BSc(Hons):
- 10 completed (9 with H1 – 3 top of cohort, 9 continued to PhD)
• PhD:
- 9 completed (4 prize-winners, all continued to postdoc/faculty roles, incl. at WEHI, Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, University College London)
- 9 current

> Leadership/Representative Roles:
• Australian Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
- Review Panellist (2004)
• Australian Society for Medical Research
- Medical Research Week Committee (2000-5)
- Careers Sub-Committee (2000-4)
- Assistant to the Premier’s Award (2002-5)
- Premier’s Award Sub-Committee (2004-5), Chair (2004-5)
• BioGeelong
- Steering Committee Chair (2008-10)
• Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases
- Steering Committee (2009-)
• Biosciences Victoria
- Deakin University rep (2010-2)
• Victorian Technology Network
- Deakin University rep (2010-)
• Research Australia
- Deakin University rep (2011)


Teaching Interests

Prof. Ward has significant teaching expertise, previously serving as Year 1 & 2 Co-ordinator for Medicine and Course Director for Biomedical Science. He currently teaches into ‘Human Biology’ and ‘Infection, Defence & Repair’ in the Medical Course and ‘Immunology & Hematology’ in Biomedical Sciences, and contributes to the supervision of 3rd year, Intern, Honours and PhD students.

Knowledge areas

Prof. Ward was awarded a Bachelor of Science (Honours), Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and has then trained as a European Molecular Biology Organisation Long-Term Fellow and a Sylvia and Charles Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellow. This has provided him with significant expertise in biochemistry, genetics, functional genomics, bioinformatics, immunology, haematology and developmental biology.


Awards and prizes

Consistently successful at obtaining competitive funding, Professor Ward has been awarded funds totalling in excess of $4.2 million, with the majority from National Competitive Grant Schemes. He has also received a number of prestigious fellowships, including a European Molecular Biology Organisation Long-Term Fellowship, an AMRAD Postdoctoral Award and a Sylvia and Charles Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship. In the last 10 years these include:
• Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant, ‘Socs proteins in health and disease’, 2005-2007 $215 000 (CI: AC Ward)
• Australian & Pacific Science Foundation Grant, ‘Impact of subterranean water on the physiology and health of Murray Cod (Maccullochella peeli peeli)’, 2006-2008 $28 000 (CIs: P Jones, S De Silva, G Turchini, T Toop, AC Ward)
• Geelong Community Foundation Grant, ‘Establishment of medical school’, 2007 $30 000 (CIs: W Duan, B Crotty, AC Ward)
• National Health & Medical Research Council Enabling Grant, ‘Australian zebrafish phenomics facility’, 2007-2011 $1 500 000 (CIs: A Perkins, B Key, J Rothnagel, A Ward, S Grimmond, P Alewood, D Hume, A Boyd, M Lardelli)
• Geelong Community Foundation, ‘Establishment of GTRAC’, 2009 $47 000 (CI: AC Ward)
• The Foundation for Children, ‘Defining mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle development and muscular dystrophy’, 2010-2012 $157 000 (CIs: D McCulloch, N Stupka, AC Ward)
• Collier Charitable Fund, ‘Study of embryonic development: automatic gene detection device’, 2012 $48 000 (CIs: Y Gibert, AC Ward)
• Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure Equipment Fund Grant, ‘Collaborative high bio-containment immunological research facility’, 2012 $520 000 (CIs: AC Ward, J Mak, LF Wang, J Stambas, J Lowenthal, R Tripp, TF de Koning-Ward, WA Buttemer)
• Atkins Charitable Trust, ‘Role of cytokine receptors in ovarian cancer’, 2012-2015 $42 500 (CIs: AC Ward, W Duan, D McCulloch)


Research interests

The immune system is vital for maintaining good health. However, much remains to be learnt about how it develops normally, how it is perturbed in disease and how it is subverted during infection. One key facet of the immune system are the various cytokines and their receptors that regulate it. Prof. Ward leads a research team at Deakin University’s new Medical School investigating the genes involved in the development of the immune system, including cytokine receptor signalling components, with the aim of understanding their function, evolution, and role in disease. This research utilises multi-disciplinary approach, combining bioinformatics, molecular biology and functional genomics approaches in the zebrafish model.
Prof. Ward’s group is housed in the $15M Molecular Medicine Research Facility, which opened in April 2011 and contains a comprehensive suite of equipment to service molecular biology, cell biology, microscopy and histology at PC2 level. CI-Ward also oversees the ARC LIEF-funded FishWorks facility, which consists of an extensive Aquatic Habitats aquarium with a 700-tank capacity, including breeding tanks, independent light cycles, and nursery, as well as an exquisite range of equipment for zebrafish embryo manipulation and analysis, including dedicated microinjectors, fluorescence microscopes and digital cameras, and currrenlty being further upgraded.

Research page



Professor Ward has authored 120 publications, with more than half as principal author, including leading journals such as J Exp Med (x2), Blood (x12), Leukemia (x4), PNAS (x2), Haematologica (x2), J Immunol (x3) and J Biol Chem (x4). Collective citations of >3000, with ~30 cites/paper and an H-index of 32 highlight the impact of this work. Recent significant publications include:
Rasighaemi, P., S. M. N. Onnebo, C. Liongue, and A. C. Ward. 2015. ETV6 (TEL1) regulates embryonic hematopoiesis in zebrafish. Haematologica 100:23-31.
Kumar, J., F. W. Fraser, C. Riley, N. Ahmed, D. R. McCulloch, and A. C. Ward. 2014. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor receptor signalling via Janus kinase 2/Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 in ovarian epithelial cancer. Br. J. Cancer 110:133-145.
Kumar, J., and A. C. Ward. 2014. Role of the interleukin receptor family in epithelial ovarian cancer and its clinical implications. BBA Rev. Cancer 1845:117-125.
Lewis, R. S., S. M. Noor, F. W. Fraser, R. Sertori, C. Liongue, and A. C. Ward. 2014. Regulation of embryonic hematopoiesis by a cytokine inducible SH2-domain (CISH) homologue in zebrafish. J. Immunol. 192:5739-5748.
John, L. B., M. C. Trengove, F. W. Fraser, S. Yoong, and A. C. Ward. 2013. Pegasus, the ‘atypical’ Ikaros family member, participates in early embryonic development and influences left-right asymmetry through regulation of pitx2 expression. Dev. Biol. 377:46-54.
Gibert, Y., M. C. Trengove, and A. C. Ward. 2013. Zebrafish as a genetic model in pre-clinical drug testing and development. Curr. Med. Chem. 20:2458-2466.
Liongue, C., L. A. O’Sullivan, M. C. Trengove, and A. C. Ward. 2012. Evolution of Jak-Stat pathway components: mechanisms and role in immune system development. PLoS One 7:e32777.
Onnebo, S. M. N., P. Rasighaemi, J. Kumar, C. Liongue, and A. C. Ward. 2012. Alternative TEL-JAK2 fusions associated with T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and atypical chronic myeloid leukemia dissected in zebrafish. Haematologica 97:1895-1903.
Noor, S. M., R. Bell, and A. C. Ward. 2011. Shooting the messenger: targeting signal transduction pathways in leukemia and related disorders. Crit. Rev. Onc. Hematol. 78:33-44.
O'Sullivan, L. A., S. M. Noor, M. C. Trengove, R. S. Lewis, C. Liongue, N. S. Sprigg, S. E. Nicholson, and A. C. Ward. 2011. Suppressor of cytokine signalling 1 regulates embryonic myelopoiesis independently of its effects on T cell development. J. Immunol. 186:4751-4761.
Liongue, C., L. B. John, and A. C. Ward. 2011. Origins of adaptive immunity. Crit. Rev. Immunol. 31:53-63.
Ward, A. C., and D. C. Dale. 2009. Genetic and molecular approaches to the diagnosis of severe congenital neutropenia. Curr. Opin. Hematol. 16:9-13.
John, L. B., S. Yoong, and A. C. Ward. 2009. Evolution of the Ikaros gene family: implications for the origins of adaptive immunity. J. Immunol. 182:4792-4799.
Liongue, C., C. Hall, B. O’Connell, P. Crozier, and A. C. Ward. 2009. Zebrafish granulocyte colony-stimulating factor receptor signalling promotes myelopoiesis and myeloid cell migration. Blood 113:2535-2546.

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