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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

Centenary UTS Centre for Inflammation

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Centenary Institute - Medical Research

Our research

Inflammation is increasingly being found to play crucial roles in the development of many major diseases, i­ncluding Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, diabetes, tuberculosis and COVID-19. The Centenary UTS Centre for Inflammation (CFI) is Australia’s first research centre dedicated exclusively to studying the mechanisms underlying inflammation, to understand how specific diseases develop and progress and can be treated.

The Centenary UTS CFI brings together world-leading experts in a partnership between one of Australia’s foremost medical research institutes and the country’s top-rated young university. The Centre collaborates with global network of other pioneering inflammation researchers, including at the universities of Manchester, Edinburgh and London in the UK, as well as other research institutes and universities (IMB/UQ, Hudson MRI, WEHI) and industry across Australia and globally.

We consider that understanding inflammation is the key to unlocking a new armoury of treatments and cures for many of the deadliest and prominent diseases effecting humanity. The Centre is at the forefront of this life-saving medical research.

An advanced approach

The first step is to develop detailed and accurate models of specific diseases, to enable us to identify new therapeutic targets. Traditionally, most research centres tend to specialise in just one or two specific aspects of a disease. In contrast, at the Centenary UTS CFI, we are utilising the very latest research technologies to simultaneously consider every aspect of pathways linked to the development and progression of a disease, at genetic, epigenetic, molecular, cellular and tissue levels. Data comes from advanced research techniques including single cell and spatial sequencing, RNA transcription, proteomics and mass cytometry.

Our bioinformatics specialists then use the wealth of new data generated in comprehensive ‘multi-omics’ approaches to profile the whole disease, identifying new potential targets that control entire disease pathways for therapies that might not otherwise be apparent. Using these methods to create ultra high-resolution new profiles of disease will revolutionise our understanding of how diseases develop, operate and progress over time. This is leading to revolutionary new approaches to prevention, treatments and cures.

One process, many diseases

Since inflammation is implicated in so many diseases, we believe that breakthroughs in our understanding of how to control the process more effectively in turn lead to treatments that are effective across multiple diseases. For example, Centenary developed a drug, CD5-2, that was initially designed to combat the development of solid cancers by reducing and repairing damage caused by inflammation in blood vessels. CD5-2 has subsequently been found to have potential as a treatment to prevent sight loss in people with diabetes, and to reduce damage caused by a serious brain disease, cerebral cavernous malformation, which can lead to seizures, paralysis, sight and hearing loss, and sometimes fatal stroke and brain haemorrhages.

Initial focus: respiratory diseases

Respiratory diseases driven by inflammation are among the leading causes of all deaths worldwide. More than 1 billion people suffer from either acute or chronic respiratory conditions. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lower respiratory infections and lung cancer are three of the ten leading causes of death globally. 1 in 10 Australians have asthma, and pulmonary fibrosis is rare but rapidly fatal. Currently SARS-CoV-2 is causing a huge global COVID-19 pandemic infecting and killing millions of people.

Professor Phil Hansbro, one of the world’s leading respiratory researchers, leads the recently established Centenary UTS CFI. He and his team have over 20 years of experience in exploring how the immune system, and in particular the inflammatory process, contribute to progression of chronic respiratory diseases.

Prof Hansbro and his team are focussing on COPD (the third most common cause of death in the world), severe asthma, influenza, COVID-19, pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer. In these diseases chronic or excessive inflammation results in tissue damage and current therapies are ineffective. As the Centre is expanding, activity in other disease areas are also being intensively investigated, including cystic fibrosis, Mycobacteria and other infections and non-respiratory diseases (eg. gut, cardiovascular, brain, kidney, liver).

Delivering for our community

The work of the Centenary UTS CFI is transforming our understanding of how respiratory and other diseases occur, providing new targets for investigation and offering exciting new possibilities for treatments and cures that will positively impact many people’s lives. By understanding the role of inflammation and the immune system in respiratory diseases we will be closer to unlocking the drivers of other disease areas too, where inflammation also plays a leading or significant role.

Professor Philip Hansbro

Professor Phil Hansbro is an internationally renowned research leader in respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive airway disease (COPD, aka emphysema), and infections and is developing interests in lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis. His work is substantially contributing to understanding the pathogenesis and developing new therapies for these diseases.

His work has made internationally important contributions and led to the identification of novel avenues for therapy that are under further study and in clinical trials. This is achieved through the development of novel mouse models that recapitulate the hallmark features of human disease, including asthma, COPD, infections, fibrosis and lung cancer. He employs these models in integrated approaches (infection, immunity and physiology with particular expertise in lung function analysis) to understand human diseases, and develop new treatment strategies. Research outcomes have a translational goal, and his studies are conducted in parallel with collaborative human studies with clinical researchers and industry partners and progressed to clinical trials.

Centre Manager
Dr Nicole Hansbro

Post-doctoral Fellows
Dr’s Peter Choi, Vivek Dharwal, Chantal Donovan, Izabela Galvao, Caitlin Gillies, Sobia Idrees, Matt Johansen, Richard Kim, Gang Liu, Vyoma Patel, Keshav Paudel, Ashleigh Philp, Sj Shen

Research Assistants
Christina Nalkurthi, Duc Nguyen, Nisha Panth, Linda Tong

Technical Officers
Carol Devine, Simon Gao, Solomon Odgers

PhD students
Chris Augood, Shatarupta Das, Ranjith Jayaraman, Piyush Jha, Haroon Khan, Vamshi Malyla, Jackie Marshall, Tayyaba Sadaf, Hamidreza Sadegh, Ridhima Wadhwa

Honours students
Daniella De Leon

Project leaders

Leader of head and neck cancer and eye programs
Dr Guy Lyons (PhD student, Matthew Callow)

Leader of the bioinformatics sector
Dr Alen Faiz

Node leader for the drug delivery & formulation, Node leader for Post-graduate student liaison
Dr Kamal Dua

Node leader for the cardiovascular and stroke
Dr Jaesung (Peter) Choi

Node leader of lung fibrosis
Dr Gang Liu

Node leader for bacterial and viral immunopathogenesis/host-pathogen Interactions
Dr Matt Johansen

Search amongst our repository.

For access to all Publications via Pub Med.



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Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
Ghent University, Belgium
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Hospital Clinic De Barcelona, Spain
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Indian Institute Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), India
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Jaipur National University, India
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MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK
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