Dr Ajithkumar Vasanthakumar

Head, Tissue and Tumour Immunity laboratory

I investigate the immune ecosystem of tissues and tumours to discover mechanisms that could be targeted to revert immune suppression for the treatment of solid tumours.

I am a NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow and Head of the Tissue and Tumour Immunity Laboratory. I have honorary appointments at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI), the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University. After obtaining my PhD in Biotechnology, I took up postdoctoral studies in immunology initially at the Burnet Institute, Melbourne and subsequently at WEHI and Peter Doherty Institute, Melbourne. During my postdoctoral stint, I made several landmark discoveries that revealed the tissue adaptation mechanisms of regulatory T cells (Vasanthakumar et al, Nature 2020; Vasanthakumar et al, Nature Immunology 2015).

My current work aims to understand the homeostatic requirements of regulatory T cells in different solid tumours and their crosstalk with stromal cells. The overarching theme of my research program in ONJCRI is to uncover the mechanistic underpinnings of immune suppression in tumours. My laboratory is supported by funding from NHMRC and Cancer Council Victoria.