Experimental Rheumatology Research

The Experimental Rheumatology Team focuses on human immunology and identification of novel therapeutic approaches for treatment of immune-mediated diseases. The research team is led by Associate Professor Tony Kenna who is a cellular immunologist and currently a Senior Research Fellow at Queensland University of Technology.

Immune-mediated inflammatory diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis (AS),  psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis are highly heritable showing that genetics plays an important role in their pathogenesis. The genomics revolution of the last decade has greatly expanded understanding of the genetic architecture of many immune-mediated diseases. The next step of discovery is to determine how newly identified genetic variants alter immune cell and immune system function(s).

Working closely with leading human geneticists, the researchers of the Experimental Rheumatology Team integrate world-first genomic data with cellular and molecular immunology to unravel the key drivers of disease pathogenesis. Their work also enriches fundamental knowledge of human immunology. They work closely with clinicians and have established a curated biobank of cells, serum, RNA, DNA and gut biopsies from over 400 AS patients and 200 healthy controls with which to interrogate altered immune function in patients relative to healthy individuals. The Experimental Rheumatology Team uses this biobank to investigate fundamental biology of the immune response.

Key research areas of the Experimental Rheumatology Team include:

  • Human cellular immunology
  • Autoimmunity
  • Rheumatic diseases
  • Immune tolerance

Research Staff

Research Student