Asthma, allergy and respiratory disorders

Asthma 1Asthma and respiratory disorders (such as Cystic Fibrosis) affect millions of Australians, especially children.

Our researchers are dedicated to investigating how and why these conditions develop in order to provide new treatments and eventually prevent them from occuring altogether.

Asthma is a highly complex disease that can have a devastating impact on children and their families. In Australia, more than two million people suffer with this chronic condition.

Our team of experts is leading the world in trialling a new asthma vaccine and carrying out specialised lung function tests. Read more about our asthma research...

Our Inflammation research group is focussed on the effects of ultraviolet radiation and vitamin D3 on the immune system, with their ground-breaking work showing that small UV doses, equivalent to a short period in the midday sun, can be protective against developing asthmatic symptoms. Read more about UV and inflammation...

 Top Inflammation Publications:

  • RLX Ng, JL Bisley, S Gorman, M Norval, PH Hart. 2010. UV-irradiation of mice reduces the competency of bone marrow-derived CD11c+ cells via an indomethacin-inhibitable pathway. J Immunol. 185: 7207-7215.
  • PH Hart, S Gorman, JJ Finlay-Jones. 2011. Modulation of the immune system by UV radiation: more than just the effects of vitamin D? Nat Rev Immunol, 11: 584-596. 
  • NM Scott, RLX Ng, DH Strickland, JL Bisley, SA Bazely, S Gorman, M Norval, PH Hart. 2012. Towards homeostasis: Regulatory dendritic cells from the bone marrow of mice with inflammation of the airways and peritoneal cavity. Am J Pathol 181: 535-547.
  • RLX Ng, NM Scott, DH Strickland, S Gorman, MA Grimbaldeston, M Norval, J Waithman, PH Hart. 2013. Altered immunity and dendritic cell activity in the periphery of mice after long-term engraftment with bone marrow from UV-irradiated mice. J Immunol 190: 5471-5484.
  • PH Hart, S Gorman. 2013. Exposure to UV wavelengths in sunlight suppresses immunity. To what extent is UV-induced vitamin D3 the mediator responsible?  Clin Biochem Rev, 34: 3-13.


Allergies can cause a range of symptoms, from a mild inconvenience to a life-threatening reaction. Our researchers investigate common childhood allergens and examine how they might be a trigger for more serious conditions. Read more about our allergy research...


Cystic Fibrosis is a devastating condition that leads to premature lung damage and severely impacts the child's quailty of life and the lives of their loved ones. Our researchers are looking at ways to protect the lungs from early damage and improve the outlook for children with CF. Read more about our Cystic Fibrosis research...




Top Asthma Publications:

  • Holt PG, Sly PD.  Infections and atopy in asthma pathogenesis: new rationales for asthma prevention and treatment.  Nature Medicine. 2012; 18(5):726-735.
  • Strickland DH, Stumbles PA, Zosky GR, Subrata LS, Thomas JA, Turner DJ, Sly PD and Holt PG.  Reversal of airways hyperresponsiveness by induction of airway mucosal CD4+CD25+ regulatory T-cells.  J Exp Med 2006, 203:2649-2660.
  • Holt PG, Sly PD, Martinez FD, Weiss ST, Björkstén B, von Mutius E, Wahn U.  Drug development strategies for asthma: in search of a new paradigm.  Nature Immunol 2004, 5:695-698.
  • McWilliam A, Nelson D, Thomas JA, Holt PG. Rapid Dendritic Cell recruitment is a hallmark of the acute inflammatory response at mucosal surfaces. J Exp Med 1994, 179:1331-1336.
  • McMenamin C, Pimm C, McKersey M and Holt PG. Regulation of IgE responses to inhaled antigen in mice by antigen-specific gamma delta T-cells. Science 1994, 265:1869-1871.

Team Members

Deputy Director: Professor Patrick Holt

Inflammation Team:
Professor Prue Hart, Head of Group
Dr Shelley Gorman, Brightspark Foundation Research Fellow

Molecular Biotechnology Team:
Professor Wayne Thomas, Head of Group

Allergy & Infectious Disease Research Group:
Belinda Hales, Head of Group
Paediatric Respiratory Physiology Team:
Professor Graham Hall,  Head of Group
Shannon Simpson, Research Officer
Kathyrn Ramsey, Research Officer
Elisha White, Research Officer
Andrew Wilson, Paediatric Respiratory Physician

Respiratory Environmental Health Team:
Dr Graeme Zosky
Dr Alex Larcombe

Cystic Fibrosis Team:
Professor Stephen Stick, Head of Group, Senior Principal Investigator, PMH Head of Respiratory Medicine
Dr Anthony Kicic, Senior Research Officer
Dr Clair Lee, Clinical Research Manager
Dr Erika Sutanto, Research Officer

Human Immunology Team:
Dr Elysia Hollams
Dr Danny Mok

Systems Biology Team:
Dr Anthony Bosco
Dr Kathy McKenna

Experimental Models Team:
Dr Debbie Strickland
Dr Vanessa Fear
Dr Karen Schuepp

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