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Corporate entry Cellular Immunology Unit (1965 - 1996)

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Medical Research


The Cellular Immunology Unit was created in 1965 to reform and rename the Experimental Department. Initially this new Unit comprised of the Single Cell Laboratory, the Neuroimmunology Laboratory, Immunoregulation Laboratory, and the Electron Microscopy Laboratory. Then in April 1987 the Lions Clinical Cancer Laboratory (also known as the Lions Cancer Research Laboratory) was incorporated. When WEHI underwent its last major restructure in 1996 the Cellular Immunology Unit was split between the newly formed Divisions.


Between 1965 and 1985 the Unit made major contributions to the field of cellular immunology, particularly immunoregulation. The Single Cell Laboratory focused on validating and exploring the clonal selection theory proposed by F. M. Burnet in 1957. This involved examining interactions between single B-cells with their specific antigens, and analysing antibody formation by single cells, with particular attention paid to regulatory mechanisms controlling tolerance to self-antigens. At the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, research in the Unit was focusing on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie immune activation and immunological tolerance. The Single Cell Laboratory focused on immuno-regulation, and particularly on the roles of cytokines and antigens. Research in the Lions Laboratory was aimed at identifying and characterising the membrane molecules that regulate lympho-haemopoeitic differentiation, and at developing cellular systems that mimicked the haemopoietic microenvironment. Research in the Neuroimmunology Laboratory examined the factors that regulate early neural development and differentiation in the mammalian nervous system. Work also expanded to study the rules that govern the normal functioning of the healthy immune system, particularly the cellular and molecular biology of antibody formation.

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Emily Geraghty & Annette Alafaci