The 7th Annual John Curtin Lecture in Medical Research

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Photo supplied by the NHMRC. 

Since 2010, the award of “John Curtin Lecturer” has been made annually, at the invitation of The Director of The John Curtin School of Medical Research. This year Professor Vinuesa was asked to give the lecture on a topic of her choosing, in recognition of her scientific achievement.

Professor Vinuesa spoke about understanding the causes of human autoimmune diseases and developing more effective treatment.

Autoimmune diseases arise when our immune cells turn against our own tissues and cells, damaging or destroying them. There are over different 80 autoimmune diseases affecting 3-5% of the population, and no cures.

In order to develop better and more effective treatments, it is imperative to understand the molecular and genetic causes of these diseases. Our classical mouse-to-human approaches provided useful insights into the cells and pathways involved in the control of antibody responses. Nevertheless, a block in translation into more effective therapies has remained.

Thanks to the blue-sky research that led to the discovery of next generation sequencing technologies and genome-editing tools such as CRISPR, we have now turned our approach around into a “human-to-mouse-to human” platform that can more precisely pin-point the exact disease culprits. Through sequencing whole human genomes, we can now identify variants likely to contribute to disease and functionally validate them in mice or cell lines.

Professor Vinuesa’s research, along with her collaborators, is contributing to understanding how diseases such as lupus and other immune disorders come about and provide insight into how they can be treated.

The lecture is available online, please click here.