Nobel Laureate Public Lecture: The Killer Defense Event as iCalendar

16 May 2013

1 - 2pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 505-007, Ground Floor, Building 505, 85 Park Road, Grafton

As large, long-lived, multi-cellular, multi-organ systems that reproduce, and thus change, we are vulnerable to constant attack by much simpler life forms, the viruses, bacteria, protists and fungi, that seek to live in or on us. With some, the components of our microbiome and virome, we live normally in a state of mutual accommodation.

That’s not true for other “killer pathogens” that, like the influenza A viruses, cause acute, potentially lethal, respiratory infections that spread globally with incredible speed. What protects us against such diseases are our complex and diverse immune systems. Innate immunity provides a first line of defense, but it is the adaptive immune response that, when working optimally, clears out such infections and, with the property of immune memory, provides the possibility of protective vaccination. Significant in such immune control is the set of white blood cells called the CD8+ (or “killer”) cytotoxic T lymphocytes that have long been the subject my research. That’s where I will focus this discussion, on the interface between the killer pathogens that threaten us and the killer T cells that function to maintain our body integrity.

Professor Peter Doherty

from the University of Melbourne and Swiss colleague Rolf Zinkernagel shared the 1996 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for the ideas they developed (from 1973-5) concerning the nature of cell-mediated immunity and transplantation.