Jonathan Sprent is a cellular immunologist specializing in the development and function of T lymphocytes. Following graduation from the University of Queensland Medical School, he received his Ph.D. with Jacques Miller at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne studying the thymus and T cells. After postdocs at the Basel Institute in Switzerland and University College London, he worked for 30 years in the USA, first at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and then at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. In 2006 he moved to the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney. His research group is interested in various aspects of T cell biology, including thymic selection, T cell memory and homeostasis, transplantation immunity and cancer immunotherapy. He is past President of the American Association of Immunology, a Fellow of the Royal Society (UK), Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and Member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Jonathan Sprent has broad interests in T cell immunology. In initial studies he characterized the lifespan and homing properties of naïve T and B cells. He demonstrated that exposing these cells to antigen in vivo caused both cell types to become trapped in sites of antigen localization followed by their release into the circulation in expanded numbers as effector cells. Later, he measured the lifespan and turnover of memory T cells and defined their stimulation by IFN I and their dependence on IL-15 and IL-7 for survival. For T cell development, he and others used bone marrow chimeras and thymus-grafting studies to define the development of immature T cells in the thymus and demonstrate that differentiation into mature lymphocytes involves a process of positive and negative selection to self peptides on MHC molecules expressed on cortical epithelial cells. For T cell activation, he showed that initial trapping of CD4 T-cells by antigen followed by proliferation and interaction with specific B cells reflected MHC-restricted interaction with APC; comparable MHC restriction applied to CD8 T-cells eliciting graft-versus-host disease to minor histocompatibility antigens. Currently, his interests have switched to devising new forms of cancer immunotherapy.

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Section 43: Immunology and Inflammation