Kumar Visvanathan

Research Overview

The Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases group seeks to understand the role of the innate immune system in a variety of infectious diseases, including viral hepatitis, septic shock and mycobacterial infections; so that we can better dissect the complex interactions between the host and the innate immune system. We also study the role of the innate immune system in primary and secondary liver cancers and infections associated with transplantation.

Our ultimate goal is to generate a body of research that will clearly define the role of the innate immune system in these diseases so that we can develop new therapeutics and biomarkers.


  • Professor Kumar Visvanathan, Infectious Diseases Physician, Deputy Head, University of Melbourne Department of Medicine, St Vincent's Hospital
  • Dr Julie Nigro, Research Scientist
  • Kerry Breheney, Research Assistant
  • Rachel Morris, Research Assistant
  • Neil Wilson, Laboratory Manager


  • St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne
  • Peter MacCallum cancer Centre, Melbourne
  • Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne
  • Austin Hospital, Melbourne
  • Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, Melbourne
  • University of Washington, Seattle, USA
  • University of Auckland, New Zealand


  1. Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Research ($AUD 180, 000) 'The Innate immunological determinants of spontaneous clearance and reinfection in HIV positive men who have sex with men acutely infected with Hepatitis C', 2013.
  2. National Health and Medical Research Council, ($AUD 491,706) 'Can Hepatitis B therapy enhance the progression to Liver Cancer?', 2011-2013.
  3. National Health and Medical Research Council, ($AUD 575,048) 'Understanding how Golden Staph Causes Disease', 2011-2014.
  4. Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Research ($AUD 165,000) 'Interferon stimulating gene (ISG) induction in the liver of HCV infected patients pre and post treatment', 2013-2015.
  5. National Health and Medical Research Council, ($AUD 504,786) 'Studies of the Role of the Hepatocyte in the Response to HCV Infection', 2013-2015.
  6. National Health and Medical Research Council, ($AUD 513,194) 'Human Amnion Epithelial Cells and Liver Repair', 2014-2016.
  7. National Health and Medical Research Council, ($AUD 1,209,585.10) 'A study of Treatment Discontinuation for Chronic Hepatitis B patients', 2014-2018.
  8. ACH2 Expression of Interest for funding in 2018, $88,000.
  9. ACH2 Expression of Interest for funding in 2019, $91,000.
  10. The CASS Foundation for funding in 2020, $60,000.

Research Publications

  1. Riordan SM, Skinner N, Nagree, A, McCallum H, McIver CJ, Hamilton JA, Williams R and Visvanathan K. (2003) Peripheral blood mononuclear cell expression of   receptors and relation to cytokine levels in cirrhosis Hepatology 37: 1154-1164
  2. Horn D.L., Morrson D.C., Opal, S.M., Silverstein R., Visvanathan K., Zabriskie J.B. (2000) What are the Microbial components Implicated in the Pathogenesis of Sepsis? Report on a Symposium Clin Inf Dis  31:851-8
  3. Visvanathan K, Skinner N, Locarnini S., Williams R, Riordan SM.(2003) Impaired Toll-like receptor expression in chronic hepatitis B. Hepatology 38: 204-214
  4. Sundararajan, V, MacIsaac, CM, Presneil, J, Cade JM, Visvanathan K (2005)The Epidemiology of Sepsis in Victoria, Australia Crit Care Med 31:71-80
  5. Skinner, NA, MacIsaac, CM, Hamilton JA, and Visvanathan K (2005) Regulation of TLR2 and TLR4 on CD14dim CD16+ monocytes in response to sepsis antigens Clin Exp Immunol 141(2):270-8
  6. Riordan SM, Skinner NA, Kurtovic, Locarnini S, McIver CJ, Williams R  and Visvanathan K  (2006) Toll-like Receptor Expression in Chronic Hepatitis C: Correlation with Pro-inflammatory Cytokine Levels and Liver Injury Inflamm. Res: 279-285
  7. Riordan SM, Skinner N, Kurtovic J, Locarnini S, Visvanathan K. (2006) Reduced expression of toll-like receptor 2 on peripheral monocytes in patients with chronic hepatitis B. Clin Vaccine Immunol 13:972-4.
  8. Visvanathan, K., Skinner, N. A., Thompson, A. J., Riordan, S. M., Sozzi, V., Edwards, R., Rodgers, S., Kurtovic, J., Chang, J., Lewin, S., Desmond, P., Locarnini, S.  (2007).  Regulation of Toll-like receptor-2 expression in chronic hepatitis B by the precore protein.  Hepatology 45:102-110.
  9. Thompson AJ, Nguyen T, Iser D, Ayres A, Jackson K, Littlejohn M, Slavin J, Bowden S, Gane EJ, Abbott W, Lau GK, Lewin SR, Visvanathan K, Desmond PV, Locarnini SA (2010) Serum hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B e antigen titers: Disease phase influences correlation with viral load and intrahepatic hepatitis B virus markers Hepatology. 2010 Jun;51(6):1933-44
  10. Kong JCH, Guerra GR, Millen RM, Roth S, Xu H, Neeson PJ, et al. Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocyte Function Predicts Response to Neoadjuvant Chemoradiotherapy in Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer. JCO Precision Oncology. 2018(2):1-15.
  11. Sood S, Haifer C, Yu L, Pavlovic J, Gow PJ, Jones RM, et al. Early viral-specific T-cell testing predicts late cytomegalovirus reactivation following liver transplantation. Transpl Infect Dis. 2018;20(5):e12934.
  12. Bolther M, Andersen KLD, Tolstrup M, Visvanathan K, Woolley I, Skinner N, et al. Levels of regulatory B cells do not predict serological responses to hepatitis B vaccine. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2018;14(6):1483-8.
  13. Heriot GS, Tong SYC, Cheng AC, Thevarajan I, Levinson MR, Visvanathan K, et al. Clinical variation in the use of echocardiography in Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia: a multi-centre cohort study. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2018;37(3):469-74.
  14. Song Y, Nigro J, Yu L, Congiu M, Skinner N, Thompson A, et al. Secreted and intracellular cytokines are complementary measures for human monocytes treated with Toll-like receptor agonists. J Immunol Methods. 2019;464:131-7.
  15. Sasadeusz J, Grigg A, Hughes PD, Lee Lim S, Lucas M, McColl G, et al. Screening and Prophylaxis to Prevent Hepatitis B Reactivation: Other Populations and Newer Agents. Clin Liver Dis. 2019;23(3):521-34.
  16. Sasadeusz J, Grigg A, Hughes PD, Lim SL, Lucas M, McColl G, et al. Screening and Prophylaxis to Prevent Hepatitis B Reactivation: Patients with Hematological and Solid Tumor Malignancies. Clin Liver Dis. 2019;23(3):511-9.
  17. Sasadeusz J, Grigg A, Hughes PD, Lee Lim S, Lucas M, McColl G, et al. Screening and Prophylaxis to Prevent Hepatitis B Reactivation: Transplant Recipients. Clin Liver Dis. 2019;23(3):493-509.
  18. Sasadeusz J, Grigg A, Hughes PD, Lee Lim S, Lucas M, McColl G, et al. Screening and Prophylaxis to Prevent Hepatitis B Reactivation: Introduction and Immunology. Clin Liver Dis. 2019;23(3):487-92.
  19. Yuen MF, Agarwal K, Gane EJ, Schwabe C, Ahn SH, Kim DJ, et al. Safety, pharmacokinetics, and antiviral effects of ABI-H0731, a hepatitis B virus core inhibitor: a randomised, placebo-controlled phase 1 trial. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020;5(2):152-66.
  20. Ghany MG, Feld JJ, Chang KM, Chan HLY, Lok ASF, Visvanathan K, et al. Serum alanine aminotransferase flares in chronic hepatitis B infection: the good and the bad. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020;5(4):406-17.
  21. Douglas AP, Yu L, Sundararajan V, Szer J, Ritchie D, Slavin MA, et al. The QuantiFERON Monitor((R)) assay is predictive of infection post allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. Transpl Infect Dis. 2020:e13260.

Research Projects

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Group Leader Professor Kumar Visvanathan

Department / Centre


Unit / Centre

Kumar Visvanathan

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