The Lung & Allergy Research Centre (LARC) is focused on undertaking scientific research to understand the pathogenesis of asthma and other chronic pulmonary diseases, with particular interests in allergic inflammation and host defence against respiratory viral infections.

This past year has seen further growth in the Centre, and has been highly productive for all concerned with success in attracting research funding, multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters, and a successful patent application.

Key achievements have included:

  • Investigating the importance of antigen presenting dendritic cells (DC) in the pathogenesis of human allergic disease, confirming the importance of DC in asthma.
  • Documentation of variations in the patterns of pollen allergy across different climatic regions of Australia.
  • Describing the key determinants of host defence against viral infections in chronic respiratory disease, with particular emphasis on the function of plasmacytoid dendritic cells and innate interferon production.

The research of the group is well supported with grants from NH&MRC, Queensland Government Smart State Scheme, The University and the Asthma Foundation of Queensland.

Our Vision is to understand how the immune system functions in health and disease in order to improve outcomes for people with asthma, allergies and chronic lung diseases.


Prof. John Upham, MBD BS FRACP PhD FAAAAI   

Director, Lung & Allergy Research Centre

Ph: +61 7 3443 8024           Email:


Dr Janet Davies, BSc. (Hons) PhD

Deputy Director (Senior Research Fellow), Lung & Allergy Research Centre

Ph: +61 7 3443 8025          Email:


Dr Janet Davies, BSc. (Hons) PhD

Deputy Director (Senior Research Fellow), Lung & Allergy Research Centre

Ph: +61 7 3443 8025          Email:


Research Officer

Dr Olivia White, BSc. (Hons) PhD

Ph: +61 7 3176 5207         Email:

Dr Olivia White graduated from The University of Queensland (UQ) in 1998 with a BSc in Microbiology and Biochemistry. In 1999, she received a UQ Honours Degree in Virology under the supervision of Adjunct Associate Professor Nigel McMillan at the Centre for Immunology and Cancer Research (now the UQ Diamantina Institute) investigating the molecular effects of imidazoquinoline compounds as topical treatments for Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Following on from that research Olivia worked on clinical trials evaluating HPV prophylactic and therapeutic agents under the supervision of Professor Ian Frazer, UQ Diamantina Institute for 6 years.

In 2005, Dr White relocated to Perth and first worked with Professor Peter Sly on animal models of asthma before undertaking a PhD investigating the safety and efficacy of pertussis vaccination in children at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Subiaco, WA under the supervision of Professor Pat Holt and Associate Professor Peter Richmond. After completing her PhD in 2009, Olivia enjoyed a 6 month 'sabbatical' at Thompson Estate, a family-operated vineyard, before returning to Brisbane and UQ in 2011 to take up a Research Officer position with Professor John Upham at the Lung and Allergy Research Centre, investigating the differences in immune cell responses to human rhinovirus infection in patients with asthma compared with healthy people.

In 2013, Dr White will travel to Vancouver, Canada for 6 months and visit a number of immunology laboratories, including the Institute for Heart + Lung Health, University of British Columbia, and the Vaccine Evaluation Centre, Child & Family Research Institute (CFRI). Following this, Dr White will return to Perth to continue her research into infectious diseases and their associations with asthma and allergy, while maintaining collaborations with the Lung and Allergy Research Centre.

Research Nurses

Michelle Towers

Michelle Towers is an experienced research nurse who has been with Lung and Allergy Research Centre for several years. She has been involved in several clinical trials and impresses everyone with her organisational skills. Michelle enjoys attending conferences and sharing ideas with other research nurses.

Tina Collins

Tina Collins joined Lung and Allergy Research Centre just over a year ago as a research nurse. She is very well organised, has learnt quickly over the last year, and is taking on increasing responsibilities for clinical trials. 

Research Assistants

Melanie Carroll (BSc Hons)

Melanie Carroll started with the Lung and Allergy Research Centre in 2008 working on the immune responses to rhinovirus in cells from patients with asthma and allergy. After a short break in 2011 to have her first child, Melanie has returned and is currently investigating how cells from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) respond to rhinovirus and influenza virus components compared with cells from healthy individuals. Melanie enjoys her work and plans to continue investigating the immune responses to infections in patients with lung disease.

Ms Victoria Lomas (B. BMs Hons)

Vicky wrote her final year dissertation on Allergy-an example of disregulated immunity. She then worked two years with Abbott in protein purification and a year at the Mater Private Hospital formulating chemotherapy vaccines. Vicky joined Lung and Allergy Research Centre as a research assistant late last year and has excelled in high quality allergen purification, allergen characterisation and aerobiological pollen monitoring.

Ms Preethi Guru  (MSc Micro)

Preethi has seven years' experience as a research assistant in immunological research.  Since Preethi join the Lung and Allergy Research Centre team in late 2011 she has become a highly valued team member responsible for measuring allergen-specific IgE by ELISA, conducting basophil activation assays, flow cytometry, cell culture and processing of clinical specimens.

Current Students

Arvid Finlayson (BSc)

Arvid Finlayson graduated from the University of Queensland in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science. He is now undertaking an Honours degree at UQ under the supervision of Professor John Upham and Dr Olivia White, Lung and Allergy Research Centre, within the UQ School of Medicine and Dr Simon Phipps, UQ School of Biomedical Science. Arvid is investigating the role of toll-like receptor 7 in the recognition of human rhinovirus from human blood cells. After graduating with honours, Arvid plans to study medicine at UQ.

Ms Kelly Wong (BBMSc Hons)

Ms Kelly Wong, PhD Candidate, Asthma Foundation of Queensland Scholarship.  Kelly has continued the project she commenced during her Honours year characterizing the frequency and qualities of pollen-allergen driven B cells in patients with allergic rhinitis and asthma.  Through her research Kelly hopes to be able to address some of the issues that impact upon people with allergies and asthma and to be able to improve the quality of life for those with allergic asthma.

Ms Jane El Kouba (BSc, MSc Biology)

Ms Jane El Kouba, PhD Candidate (Priniciple Advisor - Ray Steptoe, UQ Diamantina Institute). Jane completed her Masters at University of Balamand, Lebanon, on the effects of IL-13 on hyperalgesia and cytokine responses in a model of Lesihmania major infection.  Jane's doctoral project is investigating the potential to treat established airways disease using an immunotherapy based on allergen endogenously expressed in dendritic cells.  

Research Higher Degree Opportunities

Quality, innovative research is a major component of the UQ Medicine's commitment to world-class education and health outcomes. The Faculty of Medicine offers the postgraduate research degrees of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil).

Visit our Research Higher Degrees pages for more information. 

Current Projects

The Lung and Allergy Research Centre is actively involved in postgraduate supervision, and has numerous student research projects underway.

1. Protection against respiratory virus infections.
Supervisor: Prof John Upham
Contact: +61 7 3443 8024

Immune cells and structural cells in the lungs combine to provide protection against virus infections in healthy people. The project will examine how dendritic cells interact with the epithelial cells that line the airways to provide optimal immunity against respiratory viruses. 

2. Asthma, common cold viruses and the immune system.
Supervisor: Prof John Upham
Contact: +61 7 3443 8024

The common cold virus (human rhinovirus) is the most common trigger for flare-ups of asthma, but why an innocuous virus should cause major problems has long been a puzzle. The project will examine the function of dendritic cells and regulation of interferon in people with asthma.

3. How important are the tonsils?
Supervisor: Prof John Upham
Contact: +61 7 3443 8024

The tonsils are at the forefront of the immune system, and contain a variety of cells that provide protection against infections and may be important for tolerance to allergens. This project will examine the function of tonsil dendritic cells in children and adults.

4. Improving influenza vaccination for people with chronic lung disease.
Supervisor: Prof John Upham
Contact: +61 7 3443 8024

People with chronic lung disease are at increased risk of serious complications following influenza infection. The project will improve understanding of influenza vaccination and examine ways to make vaccination more effective.

5. Allergy to subtropical grass pollens.
Supervisor: Dr Janet Davies
Contacts: +61 7 3443 8025

Grass pollens are a major cause of allergic rhinitis and asthma in Australia but the contribution of the subtropical grasses remains largely undefined. This project will examine patterns of allergic sensitization and pollen exposure in various climatic regions across Australia.

7. Understanding allergen-specific B cells
Supervisors: Dr Janet Davies and Prof. John Upham
Contacts +61 7 3443 8025 and

The mechanisms responsible for elevated allergen-specific IgE production in allergic diseases are yet to be fully elucidated.  In this project the molecular characteristics of immunoglobulin gene transcripts from peanut and grass pollen allergen-specific B cells will be investigated.

Funds received through donations, gifts and bequests will help us stay at the cutting edge of research, and directly benefit our research programs which are to improve the health outcomes for people with asthma, allergies and chronic lung diseases, as well as benefit the general community.

If you would like to show your support, you can direct your donation to the Lung and Allergy Research Centre by completing The University of Queensland online donation form. Please click the make a gift button below to be directed to the donation form.


 Click to make a gift


To ensure your gift is directed towards the research programs within this Centre, please select "Other" on the online donation from and specify the Lung and Allergy Research Centre, under the Area of Funding.

The Lung and Allergy Research Centre team would like to thank the members of the public and organisations that have recognised our research efforts and continue to support our endeavours.  


Lung and Allergy Research Centre
Level 5, Translational Research Institute (TRI)
37 Kent Street
Woolloongabba QLD 4102

Fax: +61 7 3443 7779

Professor John Upham
Phone: +61 7 3443 8024

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