A new way of looking at the immune system; Imaging Centre launch

ARC Centre of Excellence for Advanced Molecular Imaging

ImagingCoE logo

  • Launch 15 October 2014 from 11 am at Building 75 (STRIP Building), Monash University, Clayton. Click for map.
  • With Professor Aidan Byrne, CEO of the Australian Research Council and MP Michael Sukkar.

The $39 million ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging launches today with the mission of changing the way we see the immune system.

Understanding our immune system is central to fighting cancer and infectious diseases. And understanding why our immune system sometimes over-reacts is critical to tackling auto-immune diseases.

Yet many of the workings of our immune systems are a mystery, especially at a molecular level – for example:

  • How does trauma and infection trigger inflammation?
  • How does a T-cell recognise an infected and cancerous cell?
  • And how does it persuade other T-cells to join the fight?
  • What happens when our immune system over-reacts?
  • How is coeliac disease triggered?
  • How do diabetes and other autoimmune diseases start?
  • How can we persuade the immune system to accept organ transplants?

The key to the way our bodies fight infection and disease lies in understanding how proteins and cells interact at the molecular level. Before the Centre has even officially opened, its researchers have:

  • found how one of the ’triggers’ for coeliac disease works, discovering the precise molecular interaction that launches the body’s immune system when it mistakes gluten for a toxic threat
  • discovered how some viruses hide in our bodies for decades behind fake human proteins that trick our immune cells into thinking that everything is ok
  • invented a $2 microscope that rivals $1000 pathology lab equipment, and could ultimately be implanted into the body’s organs.

The Centre brings together physicists, chemists and biologists from five universities to characterise and visualise the key interactions that underpin immune responses.

The Centre’s researchers are based at La Trobe University, the University of Melbourne, Monash University, the University of New South Wales and The University of Queensland.

They’re supported by partners from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, The Australian Synchrotron, Carl Zeiss Pty Ltd, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (Germany), Leica Microsystems Pty Ltd, University of Warwick (UK).

They’ll use almost every imaging technology possible to unravel immune secrets and open up new pathways for disease treatments: ranging from existing microscopes as well as new ones they develop; through to the $200 million synchrotron and Europe’s new 3.4 km long X-ray free electron laser.

Media contacts:

Centre for Advanced Molecular Imaging – Chief Investigators
La Trobe University

  • Associate Professor Brian Abbey
  • Professor Keith Nugent

Monash University

  • Prof. James Whisstock (Director)
  • Prof. Jamie Rossjohn

The University of Melbourne

  • Professor Dale Godfrey (Mentorship Officer)
  • Professor William Heath
  • Associate Professor Harry Quiney

The University of New South Wales

  • Professor Katharina Gaus (Deputy Director)

The University of Queensland

  • Professor David Fairlie (Commercialisation Officer)


Launching the ARC Centre for Advanced Molecular Imaging

Launching the ARC Centre for Advanced Molecular Imaging

Centre Director James Whisstock at the Imaging Centre launch

Centre Director James Whisstock at the Imaging Centre launch