Our health—the ability to ward off infection and disease—depends on our immune system. The key to the operation of the immune system is how its proteins, cells and other components interact at a molecular level with threats such as toxins and invading microbes. Uncontrolled immune responses can also result in disease—through chronic inflammation, for example.

This is what the Centre for Advanced Molecular Imaging is all about—developing and using innovative microscopy and imaging techniques to observe the details of how immune systems function at the molecular level.

The highly collaborative Centre brings together biologists, physicists and chemists from five Australian universities, the University of Warwick in the UK, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), synchrotrons in Australia and Germany and several high-tech companies.

It is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence and funded with more than $39 million over seven years from 2014—$28 million from the ARC and a further $10 million from its partners. The Centre’s Director is Prof James Whisstock of Monash University.

By building Australia’s knowledge, capabilities and capacity in advanced molecular imaging and immunology, the Centre will provide an unprecedented understanding of how immune recognition events result in immune responses. It will also pioneer the next generation of imaging at the atomic, molecular, cellular and whole animal levels.

The objectives of the Centre are:

  • undertake large scale, transformative, interdisciplinary and collaborative research
  • develop innovative imaging technologies, products and IP
  • establish a centre that will link national and international networks of universities, research infrastructure and industry
  • attract and mentor early and mid-career interdisciplinary researchers and
  • establish a strong, nationwide, outreach program, with a focus on communicating our scientific discoveries to key stakeholders and the general public.