Dr Kylie Quinn is a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow at RMIT with extensive research experience in vaccines, immunotherapeutics, and ageing. After a PhD in New Zealand on vaccine strategies for Tuberculosis, Dr Quinn took post-doctoral positions in Dr Robert Seder’s lab (2008-13; Vaccine Research Center, NIH), where she defined the mechanism of action for a number of novel vaccines and provided key pre-clinical data for Ebola vaccine selection by the World Health Organisation in 2014, and in Prof Nicole La Gruta’s lab (2013-18; University of Melbourne, Monash University), where she developed a project on how ageing limits the function of CD8 T cells.
Dr Quinn’s research group at RMIT focuses on developing ways to improve immune responses in the older people during infection, vaccination and cell-based therapies. In particular, she aims to refine chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy (CTT), where a sample of a patient’s T cells are activated in the lab, modified with a cancer-specific receptor and transferred back into the patient to eliminate malignant cells. It can achieve remarkable remission rates, but implementation can be more challenging in older or heavily treated patients whose T cells become more difficult activate. Her work aims to identify what limits this activation and to remove that barrier, thereby tailoring CTT for older patients. Dr Quinn also has a longstanding interest in issues around equity and diversity and is the Women’s Initiative Co-ordinator for the Australia and New Zealand Society of Immunology (ASI).