Monash University; Melbourne, Australia; BA; Politics; 2002
Monash University; Melbourne, Australia; BS (Hons); Immunology /Biochemistry; 2003
Monash University; Melbourne, Australia; PhD; Immunology / Stem Cell Biology; 2009
Monash University Melbourne, Australia; Postdoctoral Fellowship; 2009-2010
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; New York, NY; Postdoctoral Fellowship; 2010-2013
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY; Senior Research Scientist; 2013-2016
The thymus is the primary site of immune T-cell development and thus critical to our bodies ability to fight diseases, including cancers. Although generally able to repair itself, the thymus is extremely sensitive to damage and its function declines profoundly as individuals age. This breakdown in thymic function likely contributes to many disease states and also reduces the ability of a patient’s immune system to fight disease.
The primary interest of the Dudakov Lab is to understand the mechanisms underlying endogenous (natural) thymic regeneration so that new therapies might be developed to enhance T-cell immunity, as needed. Such interventions could be quite valuable for cancer patients who undergo thymus-damaging radiation treatments and/or chemotherapy, including the generally aggressive “conditioning” required before hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Targeted thymic regeneration could also significantly benefit individuals with T-cell deficiencies due to aging, autoimmune disease, genetic causes (such as severe combined immunodeficiency), infectious diseases (such as HIV) or radiation injury (such as that caused during a nuclear accident).
Dr. Dudakov’s ongoing research focuses on understanding the molecular processes underlying thymic and immune regeneration so that these may be exploited in clinical strategies for boosting immune function. He recently identified one such pathway, involving a secreted protein factor (cytokine) known as interleukin-22 that is produced by T cells and certain other “lymphoid” immune cells. The Dudakov Lab is currently working to identify alternate pathways that are also important for endogenous thymic regeneration and to understand how these pathways are triggered and how they interact in the processes of tissue repair.