About the lab

Our laboratory is focused on understanding what goes wrong in white blood cells to cause allergic diseases such as asthma, and autoimmune conditions such as lupus.

We are particularly interested in how changes to DNA, called epigenetic changes, switch white blood cells from protecting against infection to causing these diseases.

In the long term we plan to use this knowledge to develop new treatments that ‘rewire’ white blood cells to prevent allergy and infection.

Our mission

Our mission is to fundamentally understand the DNA circuitry of the immune system. We believe that this knowledge will reveal novel strategies to enhance immune responses in the setting of vaccinations and immunotherapy or switch them off in the case of allergy and autoimmunity.


Our lab makes discoveries by pioneering highly refined immunological systems and combining this with the most cutting-edge genome profiling techniques. Our research has identified epigenetic pathways involved in T cell fate decisions and asthma development which has revealed new targets for the treatment of allergic disease.

We have also described how the 3D genome is organised to regulate gene expression during hematopoiesis and immune responses. This has led to the discovery of novel gene regulatory elements and development of tools to regulate gene expression.

Lab research projects

Lab team

Our team collaborates closely with the Smyth laboratory (Bioinformatics division).
We also collaborate with clinicians at The Royal Children’s Hospital, The Royal Melbourne Hospital and The Alfred Hospital.

7 members
Sara Berent
PhD Student
Wendy Jia
PhD Student
PhD Student
Research Officer
Senior Research Officer
Nadia Iannarella
Research Assistant
Interested in supporting our research?

Your support will help WEHI’s researchers make discoveries and find treatments to ensure healthier, longer lives for you and your loved ones.

Contact our friendly team to find out how you can help.