Diabetes and Immunoregulation Research Lab

Laboratory Head
7 members

About the lab

Our research is directed at understanding how the immune system regulates itself to prevent disease. This is important because the immune system has to be able to distinguish ‘non-self’ from ‘self’ in order to eradicate infections and tumors on the one hand but avoid causing autoimmune disease on the other.

We study how the environment and our genes interact in early life to alter immune function, leading to autoimmune and allergic disease.

In the case of type 1 diabetes, we have developed ways to identify children at risk and are undertaking clinical trials to regulate immunity and prevent this disease.

Our mission

Our mission is to understand how the environment interacts with our genes to dysregulate the immune system, leading to childhood diseases such as type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease and allergies.

Our vision is that by understanding the mechanisms that lead to immune diseases we will be able to design novel, specific, safe and effective treatments.


We have made major contributions to understanding the pathology, prediction and prevention of type 1 diabetes (T1D):

  • we developed tests and screening procedures to identify children at high risk of T1D
  • we discovered that insulin is a primary target of the immune response that drives autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in T1D
  • we prevented autoimmune diabetes in the non-obese diabetic mouse model by insulin-based vaccination, which we then translated to clinical trials of nasal insulin in children at risk of T1D
  • we identified rotavirus as a potential trigger of T1D
  • we defined the glycan structure of CD52 and its immune regulatory functions, and its ability to suppress autoimmune diseases in mouse models.

Lab research projects

Lab team

We study humans, and use in vivo mouse models as required for mechanistic studies, aiming to translate basic research findings into human health advances.

Our basic research involves collaboration with bioinformaticians, chemical and structural biologists, clinicians and others, and is married with longitudinal studies of humans from early life and ongoing clinical trials.

7 members
Yuan Gao
Research Officer
Senior Research Officer
Katrina Ngui
Research Assistant
Dexing Huang
Research Assistant
Natalie Stone
Research Assistant
Gaetano Naselli
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.