In 1994, Prof Mackay joined BiogenIdec Inc in Boston where she dissected the role of a TNF-like ligand lymphotoxin-alpha/beta in autoimmunity and cancer. This work led to many patents and the development of a new treatment currently tested in the clinic.
In 2000, Prof Mackay joined the Garvan Institute in Sydney as a Wellcome Trust senior research fellow and was awarded a NHMRC program grant. Prof Mackay’s lab at Garvan discovered the role of a new molecule named BAFF/BLyS as a key B cell survival factor essential for the maturation of B-lymphocytes but also playing a role in autoimmunity, and became one the leading group on BAFF research. In July 2009, belimumab, a therapeutic antibody neutralising BAFF has met the primary endpoints in a phase III clinical trial with lupus patients, run by GSK and Human Genome Sciences. This treatment was approved on March 9th 2011, the first new treatment in over 50 years.
In March 2006, Prof was appointed to director of the Autoimmunity Research Unit and adjunct full professor at the Faculty of medicine of the University of New South Wales. In 2008 and 2009, she was a NSW director for the Australian Society of Medical Research (ASMR).
In 2009, Prof Mackay became the 5th Chair of the Department of Immunology, Monash AMREP.
Her current group has a program studying the role of B cell subsets and innate immunity in immune tolerance, autoimmunity an cancer. Her laboratory also discovered the function of the orphan chemokine receptor CXCR7 in fibrosis and she is the co-founder of MabDesign Ltd. for the development of CXCR7 inhibitors.
Prof Mackay is a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and has authored over 90 articles/reviews/book chapters, many in high impact factor journals such as Nature, J. Exp. Medicine and J. Clin. Invest. She is a consultant for several biotech and pharmaceutical groups. Her h-index is 42, with over 7000 citations, an average of 72 citations per article. In 2010, she was a member on a national ERA scoring panel for ARC.