Dr Anna Coussens - Infection division

Dr Anna Coussens - Infection division

Davis Auditorium
Start Time: 
Wed, 20/03/2019 - 1:00pm
End Time: 
Wed, 20/03/2019 - 2:00pm

Contextualising TB-HIV Pathogenesis for Treatment and Prevention

Wednesday seminar

Dr Anna Coussens, joined WEHI as a Laboratory Head in 2018. Her research focuses on understanding the immunological dysfunction caused by tuberculosis (TB) risk factors, which lead to disease development.  In particular, she investigates how the immune response of people with HIV-1 infection, vitamin D deficiency and type 2 diabetes differs during disease and early infection, in order to develop host directed therapies (HDT) for the prevention and treatment of TB.  Her particular focus is innate immunity and how macrophages, neutrophils and dendritic cells are dysregulated by known TB risk factors. Her research combines analysis of clinical samples to identify novel pathways of pathogenesis in humans, with in vitro models of TB and HIV-1 infection to determine the molecular mechanism underlying disease risk. This includes genetic and epigenetic changes in both the host and bacteria and how these impact the inflammatory response during infection. She is particularly interested in the regulation of various cell death pathways and the heterogeneity of cellular responses. To complement this work, she is also investigating blood biomarkers of subclinical TB, using FDG-PET/CT imaging of TB household contacts in South Africa, to identify those with asymptomatic infection, in order to develop a biosignature which will identify those at most risk of progressing to disease and thus greatest benefit of preventative HDT.

Anna obtained her PhD at the Queensland University of Technology (2003-2007), before completing a postdoc at the UK MRC National Institute of Medical Research working on a TB clinical trial testing vitamin D adjunct therapy and developing macrophages models of TB-HIV infection. In 2012 she moved to the University of Cape Town, South Africa, to develop a research program in clinical TB-HIV immunology.  She maintains an Honorary position within the Wellcome Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Africa, based at the University of Cape Town.