Research Group

  • Dr Patrick Bertolino, Principal Investigator
  • Dr Alex Bishop, Co-Investigator
  • Dr Volker Benseler, Research Associate
  • Dr Lu Bo, Research Associate
  • Dr Alessandra Warren, Research Associate
  • Assoc. Prof. Wei Li, Research Associate


  • University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia


  • Understanding Unique Properties of Liver Transplants to Prolong the Survival of All Other Organ Transplants

The liver has paradoxical properties: it is the site of effective immune responses to pathogens, but under some circumstances, it is known to induce harmless immune responses. Poor responses can be beneficial in a transplantation setting because, in the absence of immunosuppressive drugs, liver transplants are more readily accepted than other organ allografts. Not only are liver transplants well accepted, they can induce secondary acceptance of kidney or heart grafts from the same donor that would otherwise be rejected. However, this ability of the liver to induce unresponsiveness may allow some viruses to persist, particularly, hepatitis B and C. Four in every five patients infected with hepatitis C develop a chronic disease due to the inability of the immune system to clear the virus. Although it is known that white blood cells enter the liver and become unresponsive, little is known about the mechanisms that prevent an effective response. The principal applicant’s work has been at the forefront of liver immunology and transplantation by demonstrating that the architecture and vasculature of the liver, and therefore the type of unique cellular interactions taking place within it, are essential to gain an understanding of its unique immunological properties. By performing solid organ transplantation in rodents, we will provide a new understanding of the mechanisms that occur at very early stages after antigen encounter in the liver. This project will have important implications for transplantation studies and for the treatment of other immunemediated liver diseases.

Final Report