A/Prof Anna Coussens

Laboratory Head
Infection and Immunity Division
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research


Research Activities

Our research focuses on how the response of innate immune cells which phagocytose M. tuberculosis, namely macrophages and neutrophils, is dysregulated by known TB risk factors. We investigate how the immune response of people with co-infections (such and HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2), vitamin D deficiency and type 2 diabetes differs during disease and early infection, to understand the different mechanism by which these risk factors may cause disease. We combine analysis of clinical trial samples to identify novel pathways of pathogenesis in humans, with in vitro models of TB and co-infection to determine the molecular mechanism underlying disease risk.  This includes genetic and epigenetic changes in both the host and bacteria and how these impact the inflammatory response during infection. We are particularly interested in the regulation of various cell death pathways and the heterogeneity of cellular responses which we probe with single cell techniques and advanced live cell imaging. We are currently screening small molecule inhibitors to target various pathways of interest which we hope to develop into new preventative treatments for TB. We also conduct biomarker discovery in at-risk populations using whole genome RNAseq and DNA methylation analysis to identify novel blood-based diagnostics for identifying individuals infected and at risk of disease. Our goal is to develop a screening tool we can use to identify infected people who will have the greatest benefit from these new preventive therapies, based on their own individual risk profile.


Clinical cohort studies
Multi-omic biomarker discovery
In vitro infection models
Advanced imaging techniques
Small molecule inhibitor screens
Host and pathogen heterogeneity


Prof Melanie Bahlo
Prof Marc Pellegrini
Dr Matt Ritchie
Dr Seth Masters
Dr Emily Eriksson
Dr Hanif Esmail
Prof Adrian Martineau
Dr Karen Jacobson
Dr Kelly Rogers

Disease Models

In vitro infection of primary human macrophages and neutrophils with clinical isolates of M.tuberculosis
Co-infection with HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2

Genetically Modified Organisms

clinical isolates of M. tuberculosis modified with fluorescent reporters

Other Lab Members

Dr Dylan Sheerin
Dr George Ashdown
Aisah Resti Amelia
Catherine Chen
Robyn Waters
Mthawalenga Nangane
Charles Omollo
Rachel Evans

Other members with similar research interests

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