Associate Professor Neil O’Brien-Simpson
Ph.D (1997) – The University of Melbourne, BSc(Hons) (1993) – First Class (H1). Awarded: The University Medal. Napier Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Associate Professor Neil O’Brien-Simpson has an interdisciplinary background, combining organic and peptide chemistry with immunology to develop novel vaccines and therapeutics and investigating the immune response to pathogens. He was originally trained in biological sciences and management at Napier Edinburgh University (Edinburgh, Scotland) and worked at I.C.I Chemicals and Polymers Division (Grangemouth and Runcorn) as a research organic chemist.
In 1993 he was awarded an Overseas postgraduate research scholarship and a CRC for vaccine technology scholarship to study for his PhD at The University of Melbourne, Department of Microbiology and Immunology. During his PhD he was trained in peptide chemistry and immunology and developed in his thesis a method of producing a multi-valent peptide vaccine, which resulted in several publications and a patent. After being awarded his PhD he went to the School of Dental Science, The University of Melbourne, to do postdoctoral research with Eric Reynolds on the development of a vaccine against the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis a causative agent of periodontitis. His work in this area has resulted in a further 5 patents, numerous publications and government support in the form of grants from both national and international agencies. Further his research into vaccine design and periodontitis has resulted in Neil being awarded: the Colgate Prize for Dental Research (1999), The IADR Hatton Award (2000) and the Oral Biology Award (2003). In 2003 he was awarded a CR Roper Fellowship and in 2004 he became program co-leader for the Novel Diagnostics, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals Research Program in the newly formed Co-operative Research Centre for Oral Health Science now the Oral Health CRC.
He is currently engaged in several research programs and has research interests in:
- Design, development and delivery of sub-unit vaccines such as synthetic peptides and recombinant proteins targeting oral bacteria and oral cancer cells,
- Understanding the immune response to bacterial infection particularly mucosal infections.
- Innate T cells (NKT cells, gd T cells, Th17 cells and MAIT’s) and their responses to bacteria and their role in mucosal infections
- Antimicrobial peptide (novel antibiotics) design and development
- Nanoparticle vaccines
- Synthesis of structured, post-translationally modified (e.g. phosphorylation) peptides.
- The role inflammatory responses in humans affects the onset and progression of mucosal infections and associated systemic pathologies.