Professor Ken Shortman

Professor Ken Shortman



Professor Ken Shortman in his office



BSc(Hons) Sydney PhD Melbourne FAA 

Laboratory Head


Our laboratory's general interest is in the development and function of cells of the immune system. Our specific focus is on dendritic cells, which play a key role in regulating the immune response.

Dendritic cells sample their environment to inform T lymphocytes about the proteins around them, which may be derived from normal body cells, or which may come from invading microbes. Depending on the information dendritic cells received from their environment, they control whether or not a T cell's response to specific proteins is begun. Our goal is to understand how dendritic cells develop and function, to understand how immune responses are controlled.

Research interest

Our previous studies had shown that the dendritic cell network consists of a series of discrete dendritic cell subtypes, sharing these common features but specialised for functioning in different locations and for inducing different types of immune responses.

Our current research has three objectives:

  • To understand how specialised types of dendritic cells develop from bone marrow stem cells.
  • To identify dendritic cell surface molecules involved in signaling functions, then to use these molecules as targets to manipulate immune responses and improve the effectiveness of vaccines.
  • To find common links between experimental models of dendritic cell function, and the function of dendritic cells in humans, so our studies can be translated to clinical application.