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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

Immune-Vascular Interactions

Blood vessels are the highways that transport our immune cells to sites of inflammation. Our laboratory uses the zebrafish model organism to understand how the behaviour of blood vessels (including growth (angiogenesis) and leakiness (vascular permeability)) affects the function of the immune system. This work will lead to the novel treatments for inflammatory diseases including atherosclerosis, tuberculosis and meningitis.

Our Sydney Model Organisms Meeting details are here.

The immune-vascular interactions laboratory is currently investigating the following projects:

Understanding the link between gut bugs and heart attacks
There is a lot of circumstantial evidence that certain types of bacteria in our guts accelerate cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes by worsening atherosclerosis. Our zebrafish models of atherosclerosis are perfect for unravelling HOW these bugs worsen atherosclerosis. We can completely replace the normal zebrafish gut bugs with suspect bacteria to test the disease-causing potential of suspect bacteria when the fish eat a high fat diet. Our hope is that our platform can be used to bring personalised therapies to the two thirds of Australian adults who are overweight.

Vascular control of tuberculosis immunity
Angiogenesis, vascular leakiness, and haemostasis are seen around sites of active TB infection called granulomas. We have shown that stopping the growth of blood vessels towards granulomas (anti-angiogenic therapy), inhibition of vascular leakiness, or inhibiting the activation of platelets also reduce mycobacterial growth. Current projects at Centenary include determining the mechanism(s) of action of these therapies using a range of experimental models, and validating these therapies into mammalian models of TB infection.

Zebrafish avatars for Mycobacterium abscessus infections
Mycobacterium abscessus infection is one of the most feared diagnoses for patients with chronic lung diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease because it can be near impossible to cure with antibiotics. Unfortunately, these infections are very hard to replicate in conventional mouse models which has slowed the development of new treatments. We made the breakthrough discovery that zebrafish can replicate important aspects of chronic Mycobacterium abscessus infections and are using our zebrafish to test new treatments.

Centenary Institute - Zebra Fish

Sydney Model Organisms Meetings

The Sydney Model Organisms Meetings replaces the Sydney Area Zebrafish Network (SAZN) meetings and aims to provide a regular forum for model organism labs in the Sydney area to share research and tools.

Periodic meetings are hosted in the Level 6 lecture theatre of the Centenary Institute where trainees are able to present their work to the other model organism aficionados of Sydney. Our meetings are usually timed to follow visiting model organism researchers who present a full seminar as part of the Centenary Institute’s external seminar series, usually at 12pm on Tuesdays.

We also disseminate seminar invitations for interstate or international speakers of interest to the network. Please contact Dr Stefan Oehlers (s.oehlers@centenary.org.au) to add items to the schedule or join the email blast list.

Dr Stefan Oehlers

Associate Faculty
Phone: +61 2 9565 6192
Email: s.oehlers@centenary.org.au

Stefan trained with the zebrafish as a model of human immunity at the University of Auckland (PhD) and Duke University (postdoc, supported by an NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship) before moving to Sydney to start an independent lab at the Centenary Institute. His Immune-Vascular Interactions Laboratory primarily seeks to understand how pathology-associated changes to the vasculature affect inflammation. He has an extensive publication record in the fields of mycobacterial infection and inflammatory bowel disease, with additional interests in atherogenesis and diseases with a shared granuloma-like pathotype. Stefan is currently a University of Sydney Fellow with the Marie Bashir Institute and a holder of a NSW Health Early-Mid Career Fellowship.

Dr Elinor Hortle

Research Officer
Email: e.hortle@centenary.org.au

Elinor is a post-doctoral researcher interested in studying the interactions between host and pathogen. She started her research career at the University of Tasmania, before completing her PhD at Macquarie University, studying the effect of genetics on resistance to malaria in mice. She then moved into zebrafish research, and is currently working at the Centenary Institute investigating the ways in which platelets affect tuberculosis infection. Through this research, she hopes to uncover new ways to treat this deadly disease.

Centenary Institute - Zebra Fish

Sydney Model Organisms Meetings

The Sydney Model Organisms Meetings replaces the Sydney Area Zebrafish Network (SAZN) meetings and aims to provide a regular forum for model organism labs in the Sydney area to share research and tools.

Periodic meetings are hosted in the Level 6 lecture theatre of the Centenary Institute where trainees are able to present their work to the other model organism aficionados of Sydney. Our meetings are usually timed to follow visiting model organism researchers who present a full seminar as part of the Centenary Institute’s external seminar series, usually at 12pm on Tuesdays.

We also disseminate seminar invitations for interstate or international speakers of interest to the network. Please contact Dr Stefan Oehlers (s.oehlers@centenary.org.au) to add items to the schedule or join the email blast list.