- Evolution of vertebrate adaptive immune systems: Having an adaptive immune system is typically considered a hallmark of the vertebrate lineage, however our recent findings from studying the genetics of deep-sea anglerfishes have challenged this assumption. We have discovered that some members of this unusual fish sub-order have reduced or completely lost the capability to mount adaptive immune responses, and are now attempting to determine the drivers of this loss of adaptive capability, and the consequences the loss of adaptive immunity has on the innate immune system.
- Extra-thymic T cell development: The thymus is the essential organ for the generation of a competent T cell repertoire in all vertebrates, however, the evolutionary origin of this organ is not fully understood: for example, whether the thymus evolved co-incidentally with, or subsequent to the T cell lineage remains an open question. To tackle this issue we are currently studying the rare populations of extra-thymic T cells that develop in genetically athymic mice to gain insight into lymphopoietic environments and differentiation pathways that potentially predate the evolution of dedicated primary lymphoid organs.
- T cell homeostasis mechanisms: The generation and maintenance of a competent T cell repertoire involves a complex interplay between both primary production of naive T cells by the thymus, and the ongoing support of naive, activated, and memory T cells in secondary lymphoid organs. Maintaining a balanced T cell repertoire is essential, as having either too few or too many T cells can have major detrimental health effects. We are currently using a range of molecular and genetic techniques to explore how T cell homeostasis is maintained, with a particular focus on the role of oxygen availability in regulating this process.
- Bachelor of Science with Honours in Microbiology and Immunology, University of Adelaide, Australia
- PhD in Tumour Immunology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre / Department of Pathology, University of Melbourne, Australia
- Post-doctoral training, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Freiburg, Germany
- Project leader, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Freiburg, Germany
- Swann, J. B., A. Nusser, R. Morimoto, D. Nagakubo, and T. Boehm. 2020. Retracing the evolutionary emergence of thymopoiesis. Science Advances (in press November 2020).
- Swann, J. B., S. J. Holland, M. Petersen, T. W. Pietsch, and T. Boehm. 2020. The immunogenetics of sexual parasitism. Science369: 1608–1615.
- Swann, J. B., A. Weyn, D. Nagakubo, C. C. Bleul, A. Toyoda, C. Happe, N. Netuschil, I. Hess, A. Haas-Assenbaum, Y. Taniguchi, M. Schorpp, and T. Boehm. 2014. Conversion of the thymus into a bipotent lymphoid organ by replacement of FOXN1 with its paralog, FOXN4. Cell Reports 8: 1184–1197.