Our current studies include:

  1. Characterising the systemic adaptive and innate immune responses to respiratory pathogens
  2. Investigating the role of airway macrophages in persistent neutrophilic inflammation
  3. Investigating the effect of the Pnemococcal H. influenzae protein D vaccine on immune responses to H. influenzae.

Chronic suppurative lung disease (CSLD) is a debilitating respiratory illness unacceptably common in our Indigenous children.

Persistent wet cough, frequent lung infections, lethargy and the general poor health associated with CSLD impact on all aspects of their young lives, from education and quality of life to life expectancy.

Children with CSLD are at increased risk of developing permanent lung damage, a condition known as bronchiectasis. Although more commonly associated with older Australians, each year bronchiectasis is diagnosed in an ever increasing number of Indigenous children before their third birthday.

Implications for policy and practice:

Our research team is committed to understanding the role of the child’s immune system in the development of CSLD. Through this understanding we can target vaccination and therapeutic strategies to improve the lung health of all children especially those at risk of developing bronchiectasis. 

Our research has found: 
  • We have identifyied eosinophilia in the airways of Indigenous children with CSLD and bronchiectasis which has lead to changes in clinical management.
  • We have identified a dysfunctional cell mediated immune response to a common respiratory bacteria, non-typeable Haemophilis influenzae, in children with CSLD.
Chief investigator and project manager:
Contact information:
  • Glaxo Smith-Kline
  • The Financial Markets for Children
  • Menzies School of Health Research.
  • John Upham and Stephanie Yerkovich, University of Queensland, Queensland Lung Transplant Service and Prince Charles Hospital
  • Sandra Hodge, Lung Research laboratory, Hanson Institute, Adelaide.
  1. Pizzutto, S.J., Yerkovivh, S.T., Upham, J.W., Hales, B.J., Thomas, W.R. & Chang, A.B. (2015). Improving immunity to Haemophilus influenzae in children with chronic suppurative lung disease. Vaccine, 33(2), 321-326.

  2. Pizzutto, S.J., Upham, J.W., Yerkovich, S.T. & Chang, A.B. (2015). High pulmonary levels of IL-6 and IL-1beta in children with chronic suppurative lung disease are associated with low systemic IFN-gamma production in response to non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae. PLoS One 10(6), e0129517.

  3. Pizzutto, S.J., Yerkovich, S.T., Upham, J.W., Hales, B J., Thomas, W.R., & Chang, A. B. (2014). Children with chronic suppurative lung disease have a reduced capacity to synthesize interferon-gamma in vitro in response to non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae. PLoS One, 9(8), e104236.

  4. Pizzutto, S. J., Grimwood, K., Bauert, P., Schutz, K. L., Yerkovich, S. T., Upham, J. W., & Chang, A. B. (2013). Bronchoscopy contributes to the clinical management of indigenous children newly diagnosed with bronchiectasis. Pediatric Pulmonology, 48(1), 67-73