Major Research Interests

Autoimmune diseases, innate immunity, inflammatory eye disease, protein chemistry, HLA B27 diseases.

  • Research opportunities are available in our laboratory for PhD students. 
  • Extensive collaborations with researchers in the School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Medicine, Australian Institute of Health Informatics, Ophthalmology, Oncology and clinical trials.

The immune system controls and regulate the body’s defence against infections and tumours. Failure of this system leads to diseases such as recurrent infections, allergies, autoimmune diseases and tumours. Normal function of the immune system is critical to the control of such diseases. Immunopathology is a branch of pathology that deals with diagnostic tests that aid in the evaluation and diagnosis of a large variety of diseases that affect the immune system including imunodeficiencies, such as HIV, autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and SLE, severe infections, such as hepatitis, HIV and tuberculosis, and a large variety of tumours.

The immunology laboratory provides a diagnostic service that facilitates the diagnosis not only of immune diseases but also a large variety of other diseases that can affect any of the body’s vital organ systems.

Immunopathologists are trained in both internal medicine, as physicians and also as pathologists. They provide both clinical and diagnostic services to the local health District Hospitals. In NSWHP-EAST the immunopathology service is located at the Sutherland Centre for immunology under the directorship of Professor Denis Wakefield AO. Senior staff members of the Centre also have University appointments to the University of New South Wales. There is close integration of diagnostic services, research and teaching within NSWHP-EASTand particularly within the Centre for immunology.

The Centre for immunology is actively engaged in the provision of diagnostic services, consultation, training and research. 2018 has been a busy period of time with the introduction of new tests, refinement and consolidation of other diagnostic tests and procedure and introduction of new equipment and technology.


The major research interest of staff within the SCI has been in the immunology and immunopathology of inflammatory eye disease. There is also a major interest in corneal disease, particularly corneal stem cells and in corneal transplantation. Our studies have led to major clinical advances in our knowledge of the immunopathogenesis and treatment of inflammatory eye disease. This research has been funded by NHMRC and other grants.


There is a major emphasis on education of medical and scientific staff within SCI and the broader hospital community. Regular lectures are given at national and international meetings and to the registrars studying for the RACP and RCPA. Members of the staff are also engaged in high degrees in both Masters and Ph.D. research programs.

Research Staff

Professor Denis Wakefield (Director)

Dr Desiree Berry

Mr Paul Cassar

Ms Xiu Mei Wei

Recent Grants

2016-2019 : NHMRC Project Grant : Creating sustainable health care: ensuring new diagnostics avoid harms, improve outcomes and direct resources wisely. 

2016-2018  : NHMRC Project Grant : Mapping the dynamics of corneal stem cell during aging and after wounding and transplantation.

2015-2020 : NHMRC Partnership Grant : Delivering safe and effective test result communication, management and follow-up. 

2019-2021 : NHMRC Project Grant : Improving Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Corneal Blindness


Research Papers