Monash University

Laura Boykin



Presentation Title


Lung homeostasis: influence of age, microbes and the immune system



Pulmonary immune homeostasis is maintained by a network of tissue resident cells that continually monitor the external environment, and in health, instruct tolerance to innocuous inhaled particles while ensuring efficient and rapid immune responses can be mounted against invading pathogens. We recently found that in mouse models of allergic airway inflammation both changes in diet and the microbiota had profound effects upon immune homeostasis and inflammation. In particular, the following two concepts became evident. First, there are windows of development early in life that, if altered, can set the immune system on a trajectory towards allergy later in life; second, changes in the intestinal microbiota and consequently the systemic metabolome can influence the nature of immune responses in the lung. In this context, the current understanding of the impact of the microbiota in immune development and function, and in the setting of the threshold for immune responses that maintains the balance between tolerance and chronic inflammation in the lung will be discussed. It is proposed that host interactions with microbes are critical for establishing the immune landscape of the lungs.



Ben is a Professor in the Department of Immunology and Pathology, within the Central Clinical School at Monash University. Originally from New Zealand, and completing his PhD in Immunology at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and Otago University, he spent 14 years in Switzerland split between the ETH Zürich and the University of Lausanne. During this period he was awarded the ERS award for research in COPD, the ETH Latsis prize and the Leenaard’s prize. He co-founded two biotech companies and successfully bridged basic research with clinical studies and industry. Since the start of 2018, Ben leads the Respiratory Immunology laboratory at Monash University, where the main focus of research revolves around the microbiome in the gut, lung and skin and how it can influence respiratory diseases. In particular, his laboratory studies host-microbe interactions within the context of allergy, asthma and lung transplantation.