Senior research fellow, Andreas Kupz, has embarked on a biological arms race to develop an effective life-long vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) in the face of steadily growing drug resistance to the disease.
The current vaccine, BCG, (Bacille Calmette-Guérin), only protects children. Dr Kupz is working to genetically enhance BCG to protect adults as well.
Andreas studied Biology at Humboldt University in Berlin, then moved to Australia, where he obtained an Endeavour International Postgraduate Scholarship to undertake his PhD at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at The University of Melbourne.
His PhD study on immunity to invasive salmonellosis, in the context of AIDS-induced immunosuppression, identified a new pathway that leads to immunity to the infection. It garnered him a Dean’s award in 2011, as well as publication in respected journals such as Nature Immunology and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
In 2013, a fellowship from the National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) took him back to Berlin to equip himself with the skills required to launch an ambitious new research project at AITHM – finding a more effective vaccine for TB.
He spent three years at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, one of the world’s leading TB research institution, before returning to Australia to launch the AITHM research group, Tuberculosis Immunology, funded by an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship.
A 2018 JCU Rising Stars ECR (Early Career Researcher) Leadership Award winner and a 2020 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award winner, he is currently in the pre-clinical stages of his research, which aims to develop an enhanced live recombinant strain of BCG.
He is also pursuing salmonella research, and investigating immune response to toxoplasmosis, in the context of immunosuppression. The parasitic disease is also a major cause of death in AIDS sufferers.