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Corporate entry Autoimmunity and Transplantation Division (1996 - )

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Medical Research


The Autoimmunity and Transplantation Division was created in 1996 by the amalgamation of the Burnet Clinical Research Unit and the Transplantation Unit.


As the name implies, research in this Division focuses on autoimmune disease and transplantation. One of their core research streams is the early detection, prevention and treatment of the autoimmune diseases rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). Early IDDM studies included the use of a mouse model (NOD or non-obese diabetic mice), trials of intra-nasal insulin for prevention of autoimmune destruction of pancreatic beta-cells and the discovery of an association between rotavirus infection and islet autoimmunity in infants. Other IDDM research projects include islet transplantation, DNA-based vaccinations and genetic control of pancreatic beta-cell function. The Division's work on rheumatoid arthritis is based on studying the molecules responsible for regulating new blood vessel formation and cell death - both of which cause inflammation. This work resulted in the first use of syngeneic bone marrow transplantation to treat patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis. Other autoimmune diseases investigated by the Division include multiple sclerosis and coeliac disease. The Division's transplantation studies focus on targeting neutrophils and macrophages (aspects of the "innate" immune system) to prevent tissue rejection.

Published resources


Emily Geraghty & Annette Alafaci