Rhiannon Werder – 2016 Sidney & Joan Pestka Graduate Award
Rhiannon Werder – 2016 Sidney & Joan Pestka Graduate Award

R. Pestka awarding Rhiannon Werder the 2016 Sidney & Joan Pestka Graduate Award

Rhiannon Werder

PhD Candidate
Phipps Lab
Laboratory for Respiratory Mucosal Immunity
School of Biomedical Sciences
University of Queensland

Rhiannon received her Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Hons) in Pharmacology from The University of Queensland, Australia in 2013.  Following this she has pursued postgraduate studies under the mentorship of A/Prof Simon Phipps at the School of Biomedical Science at the University of Queensland.  Rhiannon’s PhD explores how defective innate immune mechanisms underlie the development of severe lower respiratory viral infections and asthma.

Most recently, Rhiannon published part of her PhD research in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and her work was also featured in Immune Regulation News.  This paper highlights a novel function of epithelial-derived interleukin (IL)-33 as a potent suppressor of the response to respiratory virus infection by inhibiting type-I and type-III IFN production and demonstrates that IL-33 contributes to the synergistic interplay between respiratory virus and allergen exposure in the early-life onset and progression of asthma.  In 2015, Rhiannon was presented the Peter Doherty Medal for best postgraduate presentation by the Australian Society of Immunology in recognition of this work.