THE 2018 LEMBERG MEDAL: JAMIE ROSSJOHN
Biomedicine Discovery Institute
Professor Jamie Rossjohn is an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow, Head of the Infection and Immunity Program within the Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University, and Professor of Structural Immunology at the School of Medicine, Cardiff University, UK.
Following on from his schooling in Llantwit Major, Wales, Rossjohn undertook his PhD under the supervision of Garry Taylor at the University of Bath (1994). Subsequently, Rossjohn took up a postdoctoral position within Professor Michael Parker’s laboratory (St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research), where he determined the structure of perfrinfolysin O, a pore-forming toxin. In 2002, as a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, Rossjohn relocated to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, headed by Christina Mitchell, at Monash University, to pursue a program of research centered on structural immunology.
At Monash, the focus of Rossjohn’s laboratory has been on defining the key molecular interactions underlying receptor recognition events that underpin immunity, both from the aspect of protective immune control and with regard to autoimmunity. Such findings were in close collaboration with luminaries in the field, including James McCluskey. As an ARC Federation Fellow (2007–2011) and an NHMRC Australia Fellow (2011–2016), Rossjohn has used structural biology to explain how the T cell receptor recognises human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules in the context of viral immunity and aberrant T cell reactivity. With Tony Purcell and James McCluskey, he has unearthed structural mechanisms of HLA polymorphism impacting on adverse drug reactions and food hypersensitivities (Celiac disease). Alongside Andrew Brooks, he has provided insight into Natural Killer (NK) cell receptor recognition of HLA, and how viral immunoevasins target NK cell function. With Branch Moody and Dale Godfrey, he has pioneered our molecular understanding of lipid-based immunity by T cells, providing insight into recognition of mycobacterial antigens, autoreactive responses to lipids, and lipid-mediated contact hypersensitivities. Recently, alongside James McCluskey and David Fairlie, he has provided a structural basis of how vitamin B metabolites can be presented by MR1 and recognised by mucosal-associated T cells, thereby revealing an entirely new class of antigen in immunity. Collectively, Rossjohn’s research on the immune system, how the body reacts to infection and what happens when the immune system fails has led to a sustained advancement of knowledge in the field of immunity. His work has been generously supported by the Cancer Council, the NHMRC and the ARC, including the current Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging.