My career has focused on protein chemistry and protein imaging of molecules central to regulation and dysregulation of the immune system. I research the mechanisms by which these molecules lead to disease susceptibility and disease progression and how they can be harnessed to cure disease.

I have focused particularly on the immune effector cells, T cells and Natural Killer cells, that keep constant watch over the body and detect and kill aberrant cells, such as those transformed by viruses or cancer. But when these immune cells become dysregulated, they can cause autoimmune diseases.

In my lab, we investigate cancers such as leukemias, viruses including HTLV-1, and autoimmune disease, including multiple sclerosis and psoriasis. We aim to develop the next generation of immunotherapies to treat these conditions.

Key achievements

2023   Awarded Australian Research Council grant on Natural Killer cell receptors

2022-current   Australian Synchrotron user advisory committee

2016   Monash Faculty MNHS Fellowship

2003   International Union of Crystallographers (IUCr)/Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Young Investigators Award

2003   Ted Maslen ’87 young investigators travel award

Selected publications

Note: #refers to joint senior authors.

Moradi, S, Stankovic, S, O’Connor, G., Pymm, P, MacLachlan, BJ, Faoro, C, Retière, C, Sullivan, LC, Saunders, PM, Widjaja, J, Cox-Livingstone, S, Rossjohn, J#., Brooks, AG#, Vivian, JP#. Structural plasticity of KIR2DL2 and KIR2DL3 enables altered docking geometries atop HLA-C. Nature Communications. 12, 2173 (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22359-x

Saunders PM*, MacLachlan BJ*, Pymm P, Illing PT, Deng Y, Wong SC, Oates CVL, Purcell AW, Rossjohn J, Vivian JP#, Brooks AG# The molecular basis of how buried human leukocyte antigen polymorphism modulates natural killer cell function Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2020) 117 (21) 11636-11647. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1920570117

Illing PT, Pymm P, Croft NP, Hilton HG, Jojic V, Han AS, Mendoza JL, Mifsud NA, Dudek NL, McCluskey J, Parham P, Rossjohn J, Vivian JP#, Purcell AW#. HLA-B57 micropolymorphism defines the sequence and conformational breadth of the immunopeptidome. Nature Communications. 2018 Nov 8;9(1):4693. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07109-w

Pymm P, Illing P, Ramarathinam S, Hughes VA, Hitchen C, O’Connor GM, Price DA, McVicar DW, Brooks AG, Rossjohn J#, Purcell A#, Vivian JP#. MHC-I peptides get out of the groove and enable a novel mechanism of HIV-1 escape. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. (2017) 24:387-394. DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.3381

Saunders PM, Pymm P, Pietra G, Hughes VA, Hitchen C, O’Connor GM, Loiacono F, Widjaja J, Price DA, Falco M, Mingari MC, Moretta L, McVicar DW, Rossjohn J#, Brooks AG#, Vivian JP#. Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor 3DL1 polymorphism defines distinct hierarchies of HLA class I recognition, Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2016 213: 791-807. DOI: 10.1084/jem.20152023

ORCID profile: 0000-0002-9400-4437

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