Associate Professor Andrew Collins
- 2002-present: Associate Professor, School of BABS
- 2008-2010: Deputy Head of School, School of BABS
- 2000-2002: Head of School, UNSW School of Microbiology & Immunology
- 1991-2002: Lecturer; Senior Lecturer, UNSW School of Microbiology & Immunology
- 1990: Research Scientist, Division of Pathology, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne
- 1985-1986: Research Assistant, WHO Collaborating Centre for the Epidemiology of Diabetes Mellitus, Southern Memorial Hospital, Melbourne
- 1981-1984: Assistant to Director, Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Goroka
Early career contributions to research were in the fields of epidemiology, then regulation of the antibody-mediated immune response and mast cell function. More recently, my work has continued its focus on allergic disease, but has involved a major use of bioinformatic studies.
We developed new strategies for the accurate identification of the genetic elements that together make up immunoglobulin genes. This strategy allowed us to develop large databases of partitioned sequences, from which we could quantify the contributions that different processes make to the generation of diversity. In turn, this led to the development of a hidden Markov Model-based approach to the partitioning of immunoglobulin genes. Our alignment utility has been objectively demonstrated to be the most accurate tool available.
Using our alignment utility, we have compiled very large databases of partitioned heavy and light chain genes, allowing us to evaluate both the completeness and the accuracy of the reported gene repertoires. We have been able to identify over 100 reported immunoglobulin genes that have been reported in error, and which should be removed from the germline sequence databases. We have also identified 15 putative unreported polymorphisms, using this bioinformatic analysis, and have gone on to confirm the existence of 5 of these putative polymorphisms by genome screening.
A focus of our work for the last five years has been the development of new approaches to the inference of antigen selection. We published an improved approach three years ago, but have recently developed an entirely new kind of analysis that we believe will have a major impact on the field.
Honours & Awards
- Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence 1999
- UNSW Nominee, Australian University Teaching Award 1999
- Grant Reviewer (NHMRC, ARC, NZ Health Reseach Council)
- Reviewer for journals including: Journal of Immunology, Immunology, Int. Archives of Allergy & Immunology, BMC Immunology, BMC Bioinformatics etc
Active Research Projects
- Inference of Antibody Isotype Function from Analysis of Somatic Point Mutations in Immunoglobulin VDJ Rearrangements