Title:  Studying ageing-related susceptibility to mycobacterial infection with zebrafish embryos

Speaker: Dr Stefan Oehlers (A*STAR Infectious Diseases)

Abstract:  Age is an important risk factor for mycobacterial infection as it encompasses susceptibility caused by biological ageing and accumulated environmental exposures. Despite a lack of lungs or biological ageing, we have found the zebrafish embryo is an ideal system to study aspects of age-related susceptibility to mycobacterial infection. Telomere length is a biological correlate of susceptibility and treatment outcomes in TB patients however the mechanism(s) linking telomere biology to TB susceptibility is/are unexplored. Here I will present the mechanisms by which loss of telomerase expression impairs immunity. I will also present our approach to dissecting the mechanism by which prior TB infection increases the risk of infection with superinfecting mycobacteria. Using Mycobacterium marinum infection as a model for prior TB and secondary Mycobacterium abscessus infection combined with the live imaging capacity of zebrafish embryos, we can interrogate the host, primary granuloma forming mycobacterial species, and superinfecting mycobacterial species determinants of susceptibility.


Bio: Dr Stefan Oehlers is a principal investigator at A*STAR Infectious Diseases Laboratory. He performed his undergraduate (2004-2007) and PhD (2008-2012) studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Dr Oehler's PhD research focused on investigating zebrafish models of human inflammatory bowel disease. His postdoctoral research shifted to investigating zebrafish-Mycobacterium marinum model of tuberculosis at Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina (2012-2016). Dr Oehler has continued to study tuberculosis since establishing his own group at the Centenary Institute in Sydney (2016-2021) before moving to A*STAR in 2022.

About School research seminars

Seminars cover all aspects of chemistry and molecular biosciences and are delivered by visiting national and international academics. PhD completion seminars are also incorporated into the program.

Seminars are usually held in person and occasionally via zoom. All are welcome to attend.  



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