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Malaghan scientist wins prestigious international immunology prize

15 April 2020

Malaghan Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Johannes Mayer has been awarded the German Society for Immunology’s Werner Müller Award for his research into a branch of immune responses involved in parasitic disease.

Professor Franca Ronchese and Dr Johannes Mayer

The award, for postdoctorates who have completed their PhD within the last four years, recognises achievements in the field of immunology that can benefit the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of diseases in the developing world. It was Dr Mayer’s research into the type 2 immune response and its role in fighting parasitic infections – a key issue in developing nations – that was pivotal to him receiving this award.

The human immune system has evolved separate branches to deal with different groups of infectious or pathogenic agents. Parasites like the human hookworm illicit the ‘type 2’ immune response – a specific mechanism designed to halt a worm in its tracks and expel it from the body. However, parasitic worms have evolved ways to dampen down this response and avoid expulsion. Better understanding the type 2 response, and how it impacts other areas of the immune system, may one day help find better treatments for such infections.

“The prize is very competitive, says Dr Mayer, “so I am extremely honoured that this year they chose me as the award recipient.”

Dr Mayer is part of Professor Franca Ronchese's Immune Cell Biology programme.