Dr Joanna Groom

Dr Joanna Groom



Dr Joanna Groom outside a lab



BSc AppSci CSU BSc (Hons) Melbourne PhD UNSW

Laboratory Head


Secondary Scientific Division:

Our lab studies how the function of the immune system is influenced by the movement of immune cells around the body, and interactions between immune cells.

To initiate immune responses, immune cells often need to migrate and interact. Understanding these processes can give clues to how immune responses are mounted against infection, and what goes wrong to cause inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Our goal is to apply this knowledge to design better treatments for infections and immune disorders, and to develop more effective vaccines.

Research interest

Our lab uses a multi-disciplinary approach to dissect the cellular interactions that underpin immune protection and disease. Our major interests are:

  • Identifying factors that promote cell migration, and determining how these factors influence responses to infection or successful vaccination.
  • Determining where cell differentiation decisions occur during immune responses.
  • Identifying how cell interactions are regulated during autoimmune disease.
  • Identifying strategies to target these processes as treatments for infectious and inflammatory disease.

Systems we use include:

  • Viral infection and autoimmune models with new methods for the detection of antigen-specific T cells.
  • Advanced imaging methods including whole organ imaging and time-lapse imaging of cell migration decisions.
  • Development and analysis of reporter and conditional knockout models to identify how new factors regulate immune protection and memory responses.
  • Global gene expression profiling of cells based on their positioning during immune responses.

Combining these tools provides a powerful approach to determine the overall impact of cell migration and interaction on immune responses during infection and autoimmune disease. Additionally, these approaches allow us to identify new targets for the strategic design of vaccines and therapies for infectious and inflammatory diseases.

A gene discovery by our scientists shows why eating green leafy vegetables is even more important than previously thought.