I am multidisciplinary researcher, holding separate doctoral degrees in both Immunology and Creative Writing, awarded by the Technical University of Munich, Germany, and The University of Melbourne.

My current research is focused on antigen-specific T cell responses that underly autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.

We are developing new kinds of diagnostic tests for autoimmune T cell functionality to facilitate the early diagnosis and immune monitoring of Type 1 Diabetes.

Along with profiling the dynamics of autoimmune T cell responses and their antigenic targets, we are working on understanding the how to modulate inflammatory switches for antigen-specific regulation of immune disease.

Research Interests

Autoimmune disease, Type 1 Diabetes, T cell responses, Antigenic Epitopes, Immune Regulation, Resolution of inflammation, Antigen-specific Immunotherapy

Key achievements

2023   Rising Star Award (St. Vincent’s Institute Foundation)

2022   Summa Cum Laude from the Technical University of Munich

2011   Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship

Selected publications

Placental gene expression and antibody levels of mother-neonate pairs reveal an enhanced risk for inflammation in a helminth endemic country. Esther Ludwig, Jutta Harder, Matthew Lacorcia, Yabo Josiane Honkpehedji, Odilon Nouatin, Govert J. van Dam, Paul L.A.M. Corstjens, Erliyani Sartono, Meral Esen, Silvia M. Lobmaier, Ayola Akim Adegnika, and Clarissa U. Prazeres da Costa. Scientific Reports 9, 15776 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-52074-z.

Fetomaternal immune crosstalk modifies T cell priming through sustained changes to DC function. Matthew Lacorcia, Sonakshi Bhattacharjee, Kristina Laubhahn, Fahd Alhamdan, Marija Ram, Andreas Muschaweckh, Daniel P. Potaczek, Anna Kosinska, Holger Garn, Ulrike Protzer, Harold Renz, and Clarissa Prazeres da Costa. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2021 Sep;148(3):843-857.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2021.02.031. Epub 2021 Mar 5

Helminthic dehydrogenase drive PGE2 and IL-10 production in monocytes and microglia to potentiate regulatory T cell induction. Ulrich Fabien Prodjinotho, Vitka Gres, Fiona Henkel, Matthew Lacorcia, Martin Haslbeck, Veronika Schmidt, Andrea Sylvia Winkler, Chummy Sikasunge, Philipp Henneke, Julia Esser-von Bieren, Clarissa Prazeres da Costa. EMBO Reports. 2022 May 4;23(5):e54096. doi: 10.15252/embr.202154096.

Praziquantel Reduces Maternal Mortality and Offspring Morbidity by Enhancing Anti-Helminthic Immune Responses. Matthew Lacorcia, Réka Kugyelka, Lorenz Spechtenhauser, Ulrich Fabien Prodjinotho, Thomas Spangenberg, Clarissa Prazeres da Costa. Frontiers in. Immunology, 27 June 2022. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2022.878029.

IL-4 and helminth infection downregulate MINCLE-dependent macrophage response to mycobacteria and Th17 adjuvanticity. Judith Schick, Meltem Altunay*, Matthew Lacorcia*, Christoph Schubart, Barbara Bodendorfer, Dennis Christensen, Christian Alexander, Stefan Wirtz, David Vöhringer, Clarissa Prazeres da Costa, Roland Lang. eLife Feb 08, 2023. doi: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.72923. *equal contribution

Monitoring Immunomodulation strategies in type 1 diabetes. Krishnamurthy B, Lacorcia M., Kay TWH, Thomas HE and Mannering SI. Frontiers in Immunology. Vol. 14:1206874. 06 June 2023. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2023.1206874.

Related news

Recipient and topic

Dr Matthew Lacorcia

Senior Research Officer

Human Immunology

Vaccinating against type 1 diabetes

The problem

Type 1 diabetes develops when the immune system’s T cells gradually destroy the cells that make insulin. As a result, people with T1D require constant monitoring and frequent insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels.

The project

Our long-term goal is to develop a type of vaccine that can stop the immune system destroying the insulin producing cells. However, to do this we need a test that can determine whose immune systems are starting to attack their insulin producing cells.

We also need a blood test that can tell doctors and scientist if new therapies, intended to stop this autoimmune response, are working without having to wait for years to see who develops type 1 diabetes.

The goal of this project is to develop, optimise and validate a new blood test than can measure the strength of the autoimmune response against the insulin producing cells.

About the recipient

Dr Matt Lacorcia is an immunologist. He did his PhD at the Technical University of Munich in Germany, and also holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne.

Matt is using his skills to help develop a test that can measure the immune responses that indicate progression of type 1 diabetes using a small sample of blood from an affected individual.


Recipient and topic

Dr Martha Blank

Senior Research Officer

Bone Cell Biology

Paving the way for new treatments for osteoporosis

The problem

While we understand how bone is built, we do not understand how cells regulate bone material composition throughout life to maintain flexibility and toughness and therefore, bone strength.

Weak bones are more prone to break than strong bones which can lead to increasing complications as we age.

The project

While we understand how bone is built, we do not understand how cells regulate bone material composition throughout life to maintain flexibility and toughness and therefore, bone strength.

Bone mass and bone material quality both contribute to bone health but current treatments to improve bone strength are focused only on bone mass: they aim to increase mass by stimulating bone formation or by maintaining bone mass through the inhibition of bone loss. This project seeks to identify novel pathways which could improve bone quality in order to keep bone material strong and healthy.

Our ultimate goal is to understand how bone strength can be improved without needing to form new bone which may also be useful for other bone diseases.

About the recipient

Dr Martha Blank’s research focuses on understanding the factors that help maintain bone strength.

Martha carried out her undergraduate studies at the University of Applied Sciences in Vienna, Austria, before completing her PhD at SVI in 2022. She is expert in techniques that are used to analyse the composition of bone and is applying these to better understand how bone cells regulate collagen and mineral in bone tissue and how this influences bone strength.

Recipient and topic

Dr Chris Chiu

Postdoctoral Researcher

Islet Biology

Testing a new treatment for type 1 diabetes

The problem

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the insulin-producing cells are targeted and destroyed by cells of the immune system in the pancreas. Since insulin was discovered 100 years ago, there have been no real changes to treatment of type 1 diabetes.

The project

Chris’ lab is investigating how a drug called baricitinib works to slow and even stop the progression of type 1 diabetes by protecting the insulin protecting cells from being attacked by the body’s immune system.

“We know that baricitinib can slow the progression of type 1 diabetes but what we are now looking at is how it does that. Understanding this can help pave the way for eventually finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.”

About the recipient

Dr Chris Chiu is a bioinformatician with both wet- and dry lab expertise.

He joined SVI in 2023, following a postdoc at the Peter Doherty Institute and completing his PhD at WEHI. He is applying his skills to understand the effect of the drug baricitinib in people with recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes who were enrolled in SVI’s BANDIT clinical trial.