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Identifying targetable mediators of fibrosis to prevent and treat chronic GVHD

Associate Professor Kelli MacDonald

Associate Professor Kelli MacDonald
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute


Abstract

Research in the API Lab is primarily focused on using preclinical murine models to dissect the immune mechanisms underpinning both the acute and chronic forms of GVHD. The overarching goal is to identify and translate novel effective therapies. Driven by the increasing prevalence and severity of cGVHD in clinical SCT patients, and the paucity of useful therapies for this disease, our research in the past 5 years has centred on determining the mechanistic mediators of the fibrotic manifestations of cGVHD. I will present on overview of our studies defining the immune landscape of cGHVD that have led to the identification of new anti-fibrotics that are currently being trialled in the clinic.

Bio

Kelli MacDonald received her PhD in Neuroscience in 1996 after which time she moved into the field of immunology taking up an initial postdoctoral position with Prof Ranjeny Thomas (University of Queensland, Australia) focused on the role of dendritic cells (DC) and T cells in rheumatoid arthritis. She subsequently moved to the Mater Medical Research institute as Team Leader within the Dendritic Cell laboratory to extend her expertise in the DC field. In 2001, Dr MacDonald moved to QIMR to focus her research efforts on understanding the role of DC, and antigen presentation more broadly, in directing T cell responses in graft versus host disease. She was a recipient of an NHMRC Biomedical postgraduate scholarship, an NHMRC RD Wright Fellowship (2005-2010), a CCQ Senior Research Fellowship (2010-2015) and is now a QIMR Berghofer Senior Research Fellow. Her research focus has been toward an increased understanding of the pathophysiology of GVHD for the strategic development of therapies for improved transplant outcomes.