Mechanisms of innate immune evasion by microbial pathogens

Associate Professor Ana Traven
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science, Monash University
1 September 2017 - 3:00pm
Rountree Room 356, Level 3, Biological Sciences Building D26

This seminar will discuss how microbial pathogens hijack host responses to evade immune destruction. Innate immune phagocytes, such as macrophages, present the first line of defence against infection. To fight off infection, macrophages trigger inflammatory pathways, produce antimicrobial cytokines, and kill pathogens by oxidative damage. A major rewiring of metabolic pathways is needed to support these antimicrobial processes. Work will be presented showing how pathogens drive fatal infections by turning the antimicrobial responses of macrophages against them.

Biography: Ana Traven obtained her PhD in 2002 from the University of Zagreb Croatia. After postdoctoral training at the St. Vincent’s Institute in Melbourne and a short sabbatical at Columbia University in New York City, in 2009 she was recruited to Monash University, where she is currently an Associate Professor and Head of the Laboratory for fungal pathogenesis.

The Traven lab uses sophisticated live cell imaging of infected immune cells, coupled with molecular genetics, “omics” and animal infection models to understand how the human pathogen Candida albicans evades innate immunity. Life-threatening infections with Candida number 400,000 per year and are accompanied by an extremely high mortality. The mortality from systemic infections can be as high as 40% even when state of the art therapy and diagnostics are available. The Traven lab has made important discoveries in the areas of antimicrobial drug susceptibility and immune evasion mechanisms by C. albicans. The lab has also worked with the CSIRO to characterise a new class of antimicrobials that are effective against mixed infections caused by Candida and Staph aureus. Work in the lab has been funded by the NHMRC and the ARC, and recent publications are in journals such as PNAS, PLoS Genetics, Molecular Cell and mBio.