Our team is focused on a number of projects that investigate cytotoxic CD8+ T cell lymphocyte responses to cancer. Our research aims to understand various aspects of the killing process: the interplay between killer lymphocytes and other immune cells, and the subsequent consequences for the immune system.
Our projects utilise live cell imaging techniques, together with cellular immunology approaches.
Our research focusses on a type of adoptive T cell immunotherapy called Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell (CAR T cell) therapy. CAR T cells are engineered from a patient’s own T cell, to recognise and attack cancer cells. We are designing and testing CAR T cells directed against adult and paediatric brain tumours. We are also investigating how to best activate T cells to allow for tailored immune responses to solid tumours.
The biological understanding and development of new immunotherapies has undergone a revolution in the past decade. Our research will provide insights into T cell biology and we anticipate that our research will ultimately reveal enhanced strategies for targeting tumour antigens in the brain, to treat patients clinically.
Australia, University of Melbourne, BSc (Hons)
Australia, University of Melbourne, PhD
2020 Victorian Honour Roll of Women
2020 NHMRC Ten of the Best Projects (twelfth edition)
2016 Top 100 Women of Influence (Innovation), Westpac/Australian Financial Review
2015 RD Wright Career Development Fellowship (CDF-1), NHMRC
2015 Young Tall Poppy of the Year Award
2013 Women in Science Fellowship, L’Oreal
2012 Postdoctoral investigator of the year award, National Association of research fellows
2022-2026 NHMRC Synergy Grant. CIA. “Rational design of novel CARs for safe and effective brain cancer immunotherapy”. $5,000,000.
2020-2024 NHMRC Investigator Grant EL2. “Designing Immunotherapy treatments for adult and pediatric high-grade glioma”. $1.3M.
2019-2021 NHMRC Project Grant, CI. “Engineering chimeric antigen receptor T cell signals for effective anti-tumour responses”. $500K.
2019-2021 Cancer Australia Project Grant, CIA. “Designing chimeric antigen receptor T cells to treat Paediatric Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma”. $600K.
2017-2019 Financial Markets Foundation for Children Grant. “Using immunotherapy for Paediatric high-grade glioma”. $178K.
2017-2019 Carrie’s Beanies for Brain Cancer Grant. “CART cells for Glioblastoma”. $238K
2018, Grant, Robert Connor Dawes Foundation
2018, Professional Achievement Award in STEM, CSIRO
2018, Project Grant “An Indigenous Australian Reference Genome: Indigenous Inclusion in the benefits of genomic medicine”, NHMRC
2017, Grant, Carrie’s Beanies for Brain Cancer Foundation
2017, Grant, Financial Market’s Foundation for Children
Board Director, Monash Health, 2016-2022
Governing board member and Chair, National Centre for Indigenous Genomics (Australian National University), 2013-2019.
Founding member, Women in Science Parkville Precinct (WISPP) committee, 2014-2017.
Committee member, Aurora Education foundation, 2011-2016.
Wang SS, Davenport AJ, Iliopoulos M, Hughes-Parry HE, Watson KA, Arcucci V, Maulazzani M, Eisenstat DD, Hansford JR, Cross RS and Jenkins MR. 2023. HER2 chimeric antigen receptor T cell immunotherapy is an effective treatment for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. Accepted. In Press.
Prasad K, Cross RS and Jenkins MR. 2023. Synthetic biology, genetic circuits and machine learning: A new age of cancer therapy. Mol Oncol. Accepted. In Press. March 10 2023.
Abbott RC, Iliopoulos M, Watson KA, Arcucci V, Go M, Hughes-Perry HE, Smith P, Call MJ, Cross RS and Jenkins MR. 2023. Human EGFRvIII chimeric antigen receptor T cells demonstrate favorable safety profile and curative responses in orthotopic glioblastoma. Clin Trans Immunol. PMID: 36890859.
Elazar A, Chandler NJ, Davey AS, Weinstein JY, Nguyen JV, Trenker R, Jenkins MR, Call MJ, Call ME & Fleishman SJ. 2022. Do novo designed receptor transmembrane domains enhance CART cell cytotoxicity and attenuate cytokine release. E Life. May 4;11:e75660. PMID: 35506657.
Moujalled D, Southon A, Saleh E, Brinkmann K, Ke K, Iliopoulos, Cross R, Jenkins MR, Nhu D, Wang Z, Shi M, Kluck R, Lessene G, Grabow S Bush A and Strasser A. 2022. BH3 mimetic drugs cooperate with Temozolomide, JQ1 and inducers of ferroptosis in killing glioblastoma multiforme cells. Cell Death and Diff. Mar 24. PMID:35332309.
Luke J, Dalach P, Tuer L, Svarirayan R, Ferdinand, McGaughran J, Kowal E, Massey L, Garvey G, Dawkins H, Jenkins M, Paradies Y, Pearson G, Stutterd CA, Baynam G and Kelaher M. 2022. Investigating disparity in access to Australian clinical genetic health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Nature Communications. 2022. PMID: 36002448.
Abbott RC, Hughes-Parry HE and Jenkins MR (Senior/Corr). 2022. To GO OR NOT to GO? Biological logic gating engineered T cells. Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. Apr;10(4):e004185. PMID: 35379738.
Jenkins MR et al. Challenges and opportunities in 2021. 2021. Nature Cancer. Dec;2(12):1278-1283. PMID: 35121916.
Wang SS, et al and Jenkins MR (Senior/Corr). 2021. A novel peptide-MHC targeted Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell forms a T cell-like immune synapse. Biomedicines. Dec10;9(12):1875. PMID: 34944696.
Verdon DJ & Jenkins MR (Senior/Corr). 2021. Identification and targeting of mutant peptide neoantigens in cancer immunotherapy. Cancers. Aug 23;13(16):4245. PMID: 34439399.
Abbott RC et al, Jenkins MR (Senior/Corr). 2021. Novel High-Affinity EGFRvIII-specific Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells effectively eliminate Human Glioblastoma. Clin Trans Immunol.
Abbott RC, Cross RS and Jenkins MR (Senior/Corr). 2020. Finding the keys to the CAR: Identifying novel target antigens for T Cell redirection Immunotherapies. Int J Mol Sci.
Hughes-Parry HE, Cross RS and Jenkins MR (Senior/Corr). 2020. The evolving protein engineering in the design of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells. Int J Mol Sci.
Sant S, Jenkins MR, et al Kedzierska K. 2019. Clinical and Translational Immunology. 2019.
Wang SS, Bandopadhayay P and Jenkins MR (Senior/Corr). Towards Immunotherapy for Paediatric Brain Tumours. 2019. Trends in Immunology. IF=15. PMID: 31229353.
Davenport AJ, Cross RS, Watson KA, Liao Y. Shi W, Prince HM, Beavis PA, Trapani JA, Kershaw MH, Ritchie DS, Darcy PK, Neeson PJ and Jenkins MR. Chimeric antigen receptor T cells forms nonclassical and potent immune synapses driving rapid cytotoxicity. Proceedings National Academy of Sciences. 2018. PMID: 29440406
Jenkins MR, Rudd-Schmidt JA, Lopez JA, Ramsbottom KM, Mannering SI, Andrews DM, Voskoboinik I and Trapani JA. et al. Failed CTL/NK cell killing and cytokine hypersecretion and directly linked through prolonged synapse time. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2015. PMID: 25732304
*Davenport A, *Jenkins MR, Cross RS, Yong CS, Prince HM, Ritchie DS, Trapani JA, Kershaw MH, Darcy PK and Neeson PJ. CAR-T cells inflict sequential killing of multiple tumor target cells. Cancer Immunology Research. 2015 May;3(5):483-94. PMID: 25711536 *Joint 1st
Jenkins MR, Stinchcombe JC, Au-Yeung BB, Asano Y, Ritter AT, Weiss A and Griffiths GM.et al. Distinct structural and catalytic roles for Zap70 in formation of the immunological synapse. eLife. 2014. Jan 1;3:e01310. PMID: 24596147
*Lopez JA and *Jenkins MR, Rudd-Schmidt JA, Brennan AJ, Danne JC, Mannering SI, Trapani JA and Voskoboinik I. Rapid and unidirectional perforin pore delivery at the cytotoxic immune synapse. Journal of Immunology. 2013. PMID: 23885110 *Joint 1st
Jenkins MR, Tsun A, Stinchcombe JC and Griffiths GM. The strength of T cell receptor signal controls the polarization of cytotoxicity machinery to the Immunological synapse. Immunity. 2009. *This article was highlighted in Science. PMID: 19833087
Jenkins MR, La Gruta NL, Doherty PC, Trapani JA, Turner SJ and Waterhouse NJ. Visualizing CTL Activity for Different CD8+ Effector T Cells Supports the Idea that Lower TCR/Epitope Avidity May be Advantageous for target cell killing. Cell Death and Differentiation. 2009. 1-6. PMID: 19136939
Jenkins MR, Trapani JA, Doherty PC and Turner SJ. Granzyme K expressing CTL protect against influenza virus in granzyme AB-/- mice. Viral Immunology. 2008. 21:3. 341-346. PMID: 18788942
Jenkins MR, Mintern J, La Gruta NL, Kedzierska K, Doherty PC and Turner SJ. Cell cycle-related acquisition of cytotoxic mediators defines the progressive differentiation to effector status for virus-specific CD8+ T cells. Journal of Immunology. 2008.181:3818-3822. PMID: 18768835
Jenkins MR, Kedzierska K, Doherty PC and Turner SJ. Heterogeneity of effector phenotype for acute phase and memory Influenza A virus-specific CTL. Journal of Immunology. 2007:179:64-70. PMID: 17579022
In this project, we are investigating the rules of engagement for multi-targeted CAR T cells. We are studying the signalling requirements for an effective dual-specific T cells response to cancer, and understanding the trafficking and establishment of memory CAR T cells.
Team members: Hannah Hughes-Parry, Dr Ryan Cross
In this project, we have generated novel tumour-specific CAR T cells to treat paediatric glioma and are currently testing these in vitro and in vivo.
Team member: Dr Alexander Davenport
In this project, we have generated novel tumour-specific CAR T cells to treat adult glioblastoma and are currently testing these in vitro and in vivo.
Team members: Dr Ryan Cross, Leesa Lertsumitkul
In this project, I aim to define the tumour immune microenvironment of brain cancer using high-throughput spatial technologies such as MIBI-FOF (spatial proteomics) and CosMx (spatial transcriptomics).
Team member: Dr Valeria Arcucci