Wild and Comparative Immunology


Wild and Comparative Immunology


Jérôme Le Nours Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute Chairperson. 
Advisory Committee Member
Andy Flies Menzies Institute for Medical Research Chief Executive Officer,
Advisory Committee Member
Michelle Baker CSIRO Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness Advisory Committee Member
Amanda Patchett Menzies Institute for Medical Research Advisory Committee Member
Travis Beddoe La Trobe University Advisory Committee Member


Australia is one of the 17 most biodiverse countries in the world that collectively hold around 70% of the world’s flora and fauna, and whereby around 85% of its mammals are endemic. However, Australia is at the midst of an animal extinction crisis whereby a number of devastating diseases are affecting the most iconic native Australian species.

Vision for Wild and Comparative Immunology SIG

Understanding immune defenses in endangered Australian species will be crucial to managing stable populations and will benefit the entire Australian ecosystem.

Fundamental scientific knowledge gained from studying these natural disease models may not only impact wildlife conservation for many generations but could also advance human medicine. However, to realize the full conservation and biomedical research potential, a coordinated effort by a consortium of Australian and international researchers to develop species-specific reagents is urgently needed. In 2018, we outlined our rationale for these topics in an eLetter to Science.

Goals of the Wild and Comparative Immunology SIG:

In December 2019, in order to begin to coordinate these research efforts, we organized the first Wild and Comparative Immunology workshop (WACI) in Hobart, Tasmania. This workshop aimed primarily to showcase complementary research and technology areas in the field of comparative immunology/biology, and to foster collaborative linkages from a wide range of scientific expertise that ultimately will contribute to Australian wildlife conservation.

Our initial group discussions held at this first WACI workshop led to publishing a Perspective article titled 'Rewilding Immunology' in the world leading journal Science (2020). Based on the success of this first workshop, we organised a 4-day ‘virtual’ WACI conference in December, 2020. We attracted over 150 registrations from more than 12 countries. We had 33 presentations with broad participation from around the world, demonstrating the significant interest of the scientific community in these topics. Check out the speaker list and invited speakers here.
We are now planning the WACI 2021 workshop and SIG activities. 

Through the newly-created 'ASI Wild and Comparative Immunology SIG' we aim:

  1. To promote wild and comparative immunology research to ASI members;
  2. To facilitate connections between immunologists with common interests in comparative immunology;
  3. To facilitate sharing of resources and reagents for ASI members engaged in comparative immunology;
  4. To create opportunities for comparative immunologists to meet and present their research.

Follow us on Twitter @WACImmuno.

© ASI 2021

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