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First published Wednesday 10 July 2019.

Clinical Research Manager Jennifer Kent and Christina Davies with her baby Cate at the launch of the Human Vaccines Project hub in Perth

Telethon Kids is one of several academic partners in the Human Vaccines Project, with others including the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, University of California San Diego, The Scripps Research Institute, J. Craig Venter Institute and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.

Professor Kollmann said that as a regional hub for the project – the only partner outside of North America and the only one with a paediatric research focus – the Institute would make an invaluable contribution to the project’s mission of ‘decoding the human immune system to transform human health.’

“This will not only make a significant contribution to the development of vaccines and immunotherapies against infectious diseases, but also potentially cancers,” he said.

Professor Kollmann’s new lab at Telethon Kids builds on existing relationships with Perth-based collaborators and consolidates their expertise in conducting large-scale observational cohort studies in high- risk populations.

The group will utilise cutting-edge technologies, coupled with ground- breaking bioinformatic approaches, to help determine how and why an individual’s immune system responds the way it does when challenged.

“This understanding will underpin our uncovering of the key mechanisms crucial to the infant response to vaccine or infection,” Professor Kollmann said.

“Given that millions of infants die each year from infection or lack of vaccination, the importance of this work cannot be overstated.”

He said the initiative would bring Telethon Kids and Western Australia to the forefront of impactful and prominent international medical research efforts.

The lab’s relocation to Perth also adds to the growing momentum around systems and computational biology, currently being fostered at Telethon Kids and elsewhere in WA.