Dr Rebecca Vanders

Dr Rebecca Vanders

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy

Career Summary

Biography

Why Did you get into Research?Research is a passion fueled by my desire to help others live a healthy and fulfilling life. Being the mother of two beautiful children, I understand the importance of having a healthy and successful pregnancy. There are numerous factors that are involved in the conception and development of a healthy pregnancy and my research focuses on helping women in these areas. During my PhD I had the pleasure of working alongside and being mentored by several highly talented, intelligent and independent women in research. As I continue now as a post-doctoral researcher, I too want to be a dedicated woman in research who achieves and contributes greatly to the scientific community. Furthermore, I want my research to directly improve the quality of life for other women. 

Career summary: I completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at the University of New England (UNE, 2003-2006) during which I was awarded numerous prizes and awards for outstanding achievements; including the Faculty of Science Award for academic excellence and for high quality work, the K.G. Lewis prize for performance in organic chemistry and UNE Women’s Associate Prize for high academic achievement. I then completed Honours in Microbiology and Genetics and was awrded 1st class at UNE in 2008 for which I was the recipient of the University Medal. I went on to complete my PhD (Medicine) with an APA scholarship at the University of Newcastle (UON) in the School of Medicine and Public health (graduatesd in 2013) where I was awarded the prestigious Vice Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence. I subsequently took up a post-doctoral research position at the UON, transferring to the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy. I was awarded a Research Fellowship from Astra Zeneca and then subsequently an Early Career Research Fellowship from the NHRMC, (salary only).

Contribution to field of research:Maintaining maternal and fetal health during pregnancy and after birth is of great importance for the community. My research has focused on improving health outcomes for women during pregnancy and for their babies by employing strategies to boost the maternal immune response to respiratory virus infections. I have identified that during pregnancy, the maternal innate antiviral immune response is attenuated which renders pregnant women with increased disease severity following infection. I have shown that there are key immune cells, including DCs and CD8 T cells that are altered during pregnancy but that blocking PDL1:PD1 interactions, can restore maternal antiviral immunity. These findings have been published in high impact peer reviewed scientific journals and have paved the way for my current studies which are now focusing on how to not only improve maternal health but also that of the child by utilizing therapeutic targets capable of restoring immune responsiveness.

Community engagement and participation: During my academic career I have been invited to participate in several public radio interviews. The first was during my honours year when I was interviewed by 2AD radio station where I discussed how my research was contributing to improving the environmental health of cotton plants by identifying novel fungal pathogenic genes. I was also interviewed by ABC radio where I discussed by PhD project on how pregnant women are at increased risk of respiratory virus infections. During my PhD I also participated in the ‘3 minute thesis’ competition for which I was a runner up. This gave me the opportunity to engage with the public by being able to summarise my entire PhD into lay terms in just 3 minutes.  I have been invited to speak at the Respiratory Grand Rounds at the John Hunter Hospital where I presented and discussed my research on respiratory virus susceptibility in pregnancy with medical professionals. In addition I have been invited to talk at the invite-only AstraZeneca National Respiratory Leadership Summit where I presented my research to opinion leaders and medical professionals both in my field and from other areas of medicine and research. This year I am commencing a series of presentations at a local school (in Boolaroo) to discuss medical science innovation with year 5 and 6 students. 

Professional Development: I have presented at seven national/international conferences (six oral and one poster presentation) and I have been the author on nine abstracts, seven of which I was first author. I have been invited to chair Immunology/Cell Biology sessions at two national meetings (National Asthma Meetings). I was also invited to give a talk on my research into the “Investigations of Influenza-Induced Alterations in Antiviral Immunity during Pregnancy and Asthma and Identification of Novel Therapeutic Strategies” at the National Respiratory Leadership summit based on my TSANZ/Astra Zeneca Research Fellowship. This year I have applied for a position in the University of Newcastle’s Early Career Women’s Development Program, which aims to give peer support and networking opportunities as well as writing and communication skills to upcoming women in science.

International standing: I have attended the American Thoracic Society International Conference in New Orleans where I presented my research on “Why pregnant women have increases susceptibility to respiratory virus infections.” This abstract was published in the second highest ranking respiratory journal - AJRCCM.

Peer review involvement: I have peer reviewed a number of journal articles in high profile journals in my areas of research. These articles have been for Journals including Pediatric Pulmonolgy, BMC Pulmonary Medicine, Journal of Infection, Clinical and Experimental Allergy, Vaccine, Gene Therapy and Molecular Biology and PLoS One. I have nominated to be a reviewer for the NHMRC.


Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Science, University of New England
  • Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (Hons), University of New England

Keywords

  • Asthma
  • Children's Health
  • Immunology
  • Influenza
  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Respiratory Virus
  • Women's Health

Languages

  • English (Mother)
  • Italian (Working)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
110203 Respiratory Diseases 33
111402 Obstetrics and Gynaecology 33
110707 Innate Immunity 34

Professional Experience

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2016 -  NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow Priority Research Centre (PRC) for Healthy Lungs | The University of Newcastle
Biomedical Science and Pharmacy
Australia
1/02/2013 - 1/02/2015 TSANZ Early Career Research Fellow Priority Research Centre (PRC) for Healthy Lungs | The University of Newcastle
Biomedical Science and Pharmacy
Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (8 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Camlin NJ, Jarnicki AG, Vanders RL, Walters KA, Hansbro PM, McLaughlin EA, Holt JE, 'Grandmaternal smoke exposure reduces female fertility in a murine model, with great-grandmaternal smoke exposure unlikely to have an effect', HUMAN REPRODUCTION, 32 1270-1281 (2017) [C1]
DOI 10.1093/humrep/dex073
Citations Scopus - 4Web of Science - 3
Co-authors Eileen Mclaughlin, Janet Bristow, Philip Hansbro
2016 Camlin NJ, Sobinoff AP, Sutherland JM, Beckett EL, Jarnicki AG, Vanders RL, et al., 'Maternal Smoke Exposure Impairs the Long-Term Fertility of Female Offspring in a Murine Model.', Biol Reprod, 94 39 (2016) [C1]
DOI 10.1095/biolreprod.115.135848
Citations Scopus - 19Web of Science - 17
Co-authors Philip Hansbro, Jessie Sutherland, Eileen Mclaughlin, Emma Beckett, Janet Bristow
2015 Vanders RL, Murphy VE, 'Maternal complications and the management of asthma in pregnancy', Women's Health, 11 183-191 (2015) [C1]

© 2015 Future Medicine Ltd. Pregnancy is a unique state requiring alterations in maternal physiology to accommodate the growing fetus. Whilst the maternal immune system is normall... [more]

© 2015 Future Medicine Ltd. Pregnancy is a unique state requiring alterations in maternal physiology to accommodate the growing fetus. Whilst the maternal immune system is normally well adept at performing this task, the presence of immune disorders, such as asthma, often lead to pregnancy-related complications affecting both mother and baby. Australia has a high prevalence of asthma; with approximately 12% of pregnant women reported to have current asthma. Poor control of asthma is of far greater risk than the use of asthma medications. Being able to identify complications associated with asthma during pregnancy is of great importance in providing appropriate asthma management and medical care to these pregnant women, which may have lifelong consequences for their offspring.

DOI 10.2217/whe.14.69
Citations Scopus - 5Web of Science - 4
Co-authors Vanessa Murphy
2015 Vanders RL, Murphy VE, Gibson PG, Hansbro PM, Wark PAB, 'CD8 T cells and dendritic cells: Key players in the attenuated maternal immune response to influenza infection', Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 107 1-9 (2015) [C1]

© 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. Pregnancy provides a unique challenge for maternal immunity, requiring the ability to tolerate the presence of a semi-allogeneic foetus, and yet still... [more]

© 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. Pregnancy provides a unique challenge for maternal immunity, requiring the ability to tolerate the presence of a semi-allogeneic foetus, and yet still being capable of inducing an immune response against invading pathogens. To achieve this, numerous changes must occur in the activity and function of maternal immune cells throughout the course of pregnancy. Respiratory viruses take advantage of these changes, altering the sensitive balance of maternal immunity, leaving the mother with increased susceptibility to viral infections and increased disease severity. Influenza virus is one of the most common respiratory virus infections during pregnancy, leading to an increased risk of ICU hospitalisations, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome and even death. Whilst much research has been performed to understand the changes that must take place in maternal immunity during pregnancy, considerable work is still needed to fully comprehend this tremendous feat. To date, few studies have focused on the alterations that occur in maternal immunity during respiratory virus infections. This review highlights the role of dendritic cells (DCs) and CD8 T cells during pregnancy, and the changes that occur in these antiviral cells following influenza virus infections.

DOI 10.1016/j.jri.2014.09.051
Citations Scopus - 7Web of Science - 7
Co-authors Peter Gibson, Philip Hansbro, Vanessa Murphy, Peter Wark
2013 Vanders RL, Gibson PG, Murphy VE, Wark PAB, 'Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells and CD8 T Cells From PregnantWomen Show Altered Phenotype and Function Following H1N1/09 Infection', JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 208 1062-1070 (2013) [C1]
DOI 10.1093/infdis/jit296
Citations Scopus - 10Web of Science - 10
Co-authors Peter Gibson, Vanessa Murphy, Peter Wark
2013 Vanders RL, Gibson PG, Wark PAB, Murphy VE, 'Alterations in inflammatory, antiviral and regulatory cytokine responses in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from pregnant women with asthma', RESPIROLOGY, 18 827-833 (2013) [C1]
DOI 10.1111/resp.12068
Citations Scopus - 12Web of Science - 10
Co-authors Peter Wark, Peter Gibson, Vanessa Murphy
2012 Vanders RL, Wark PA, Murphy VE, Gibson PG, 'Pregnant women have attenuated innate interferon responses to 2009 pandemic influenza a virus subtype H1N1', Journal of Infectious Diseases, 206 646-653 (2012) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 29Web of Science - 30
Co-authors Peter Gibson, Peter Wark, Vanessa Murphy
2012 Vanders RL, Gibson PG, Murphy VE, Wark PAB, 'Impaired type I and III interferon response to rhinovirus infection during pregnancy and asthma', Thorax, 67 209-214 (2012) [C1]
DOI 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2011-200708
Citations Scopus - 38Web of Science - 37
Co-authors Peter Gibson, Vanessa Murphy, Peter Wark
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Conference (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2011 Vanders RL, Gibson PG, Murphy VE, Wark PA, 'Reduced antiviral interferons during pregnancy explains susceptibility to influenza virus infection', Respirology, Perth, WA (2011) [E3]
Co-authors Vanessa Murphy, Peter Gibson, Peter Wark
2010 Vanders RL, Gibson PG, Murphy VE, Wark PA, 'Reduced anti-viral responses: Why pregnant women have increased susceptibility to respiratory virus infection', American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, New Orleans, LO (2010) [E3]
Co-authors Vanessa Murphy, Peter Gibson, Peter Wark
2010 Vanders RL, Gibson PG, Murphy VE, Wark PA, 'Reduced anti-viral responses: Why pregnant women have increased susceptiblty to respiratory virus infection', Respirology, Brisbane, QLD (2010) [E3]
Co-authors Vanessa Murphy, Peter Gibson, Peter Wark
2009 Wark PA, See HV, Simpson JL, Vanders RL, Hansbro PM, 'Peripheral blood monocytes (PBMCs) display innate antiviral response to rhinovirus (RV) infected bronchial epithelial cells', Journal of Immunology, Seattle, WASH. (2009) [E3]
Co-authors Philip Hansbro, Jodie Simpson, Peter Wark
Show 1 more conference
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 6
Total funding $561,059

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20161 grants / $320,964

Investigation and therapeutic targeting of the immune mechanisms that predispose to and increase the severity of influenza in pregnancy$320,964

Funding body: NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council)

Funding body NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council)
Project Team Doctor Rebecca Vanders, Professor Phil Hansbro
Scheme Early Career Fellowships
Role Lead
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2021
GNo G1400642
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

20152 grants / $67,095

Nose only inhalation smoke exposure system for mice$54,698

Funding body: NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council)

Funding body NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council)
Project Team Professor Phil Hansbro, Laureate Professor Paul Foster, Associate Professor Jay Horvat, Doctor Janet Bristow, Doctor Malcolm Starkey, Doctor Rebecca Vanders, University Staff
Scheme Equipment Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2015
GNo G1501551
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - Commonwealth
Category 2OPC
UON Y

DVCRI Research Support for Early Career Fellow (ECF15)$12,397

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Rebecca Vanders
Scheme NHMRC ECF Support
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2019
GNo G1600545
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20133 grants / $173,000

Investigation of influenza induced alterations in antiviral immunity during pregnancy and identification of novel therapeutic strategies $160,000

Funding body: Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand

Funding body Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand
Project Team Doctor Rebecca Vanders
Scheme TSANZ/AstraZeneca - Respiratory Research Fellowship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2013
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1300829
Type Of Funding Grant - Aust Non Government
Category 3AFG
UON Y

Investigation of the mechanisms of reduced antiviral immunity and the development of novel therapeutic strategies for influenza in pregnancy$10,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Rebecca Vanders
Scheme Early Career Researcher Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2013
Funding Finish 2013
GNo G1300996
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

Investigation of Influenza Induced Alterations in Antiviral Immunity During Pregnancy and Identification of Novel Therapeutic Strategies$3,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Rebecca Vanders
Scheme New Staff Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2013
Funding Finish 2013
GNo G1300978
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed0
Current1

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2015 PhD Generational Effects of Smoking in Pregnancy PhD (Immunology & Microbiol), Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
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Dr Rebecca Vanders

Position

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Hansbro Group
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
Faculty of Health and Medicine

Contact Details

Email rebecca.vanders@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4042 0263
Link Google+

Office

Room Level 3 West
Building Hunter Medical Research Institute
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