Dr Joanna Groom

Dr Joanna Groom



Dr Joanna Groom at a microscope



BSc AppSci CSU BSc (Hons) Melbourne PhD UNSW

Laboratory Head


Lab focus: T cell interactions

Our immune system consists of dedicated immune cells that collaborate to protect against infection and disease. T cells are orchestrators of immune responses and require multiple interactions with distinct partner cells to steer their function. Our laboratory dissects these interactions over the life of a T cell. 

We aim to identify how T cell interactions: 

  1. determine the clearance of pathogens (such as influenza) or cancer cells 
  2. are tailored between infections and go awry in asthma and lupus; and  
  3. maintain memory cells for long-lived vaccine protection. 

Our goal is to apply this knowledge to therapeutically promote protection from infection and discover new avenues to overcome cancer, asthma and autoimmunity.

Research interest

Our lab uses a multi-disciplinary approach to dissect the cellular interactions that underpin immune protection and disease. Our major interests are:

  • Defining the transcriptional networks that mediate flexible immune responses
  • Identifying factors that promote cell migration, and determining how these factors influence responses to infection or successful vaccination.
  • Determining where cell differentiation decisions occur during immune responses.
  • Identifying novel mechanisms that resolve inflammation to limit immune pathology and establish protective memory.
  • Identifying strategies to target these processes as treatments for infectious and inflammatory disease.

Systems we use include:

  • Diverse infection models (viral, bacterial, helminth and fungal) to study flexible immune responses.
  • Advanced imaging methods including whole 3D organ imaging and time-lapse imaging of cell migration decisions.
  • Development and analysis of reporter and conditional knockout models to identify how new factors regulate immune protection and memory responses.
  • Global gene expression profiling of cells based on cellular interactions and positioning during immune responses.
  • Proteomics approaches to discover factors that control immune memory maintenance and function.

Combining these tools provides a powerful approach to determine the overall impact of cell migration and interaction on immune responses during diverse immune responses. Additionally, these approaches allow us to identify new targets for the strategic design of vaccines and therapies for infectious and inflammatory diseases.

Our researchers have identified a molecular switch that impacts immune responses to viral infections, and whether or not protective antibodies are produced.