School of Paediatrics and Child Health

SPACH Respiratory Research Group

Further Information

A-Z Staff Research ProfilesFind out what our postgraduates are researching

Research electives

We welcome medical students from other institutions to join us for elective terms of up to six weeks.


For more information on completing an elective, contact:

Team Members:

Research Overview:


This research group was founded in 1985 by Winthrop Professor Peter Le Souëf and its initial focus was on respiratory physiology and asthma in early life. In 1987, with Prof Lou Landau, he started a birth cohort, the Perth Infant Asthma Follow-up (PIAF) study and the 24 year follow-up of the cohort is now underway. PIAF has been continuously funded by NHMRC and has resulted in 67 publications to date. Prof Le Souëf was joined in 1995 by Clinical Research Professor Jack Goldblatt to form an Asthma Genetics Research Group with the aim of determining the genetic factors underlying the heritability of asthma. Several genetic variants were identified and associated with asthma and allergy in children. Another ARC funded study investigated the frequency of immune gene variants in populations with a variety of ethnicities, identifying an association between frequency and latitude, possibly due to the increased occurrence of infection with latitude. Genetic factors associated with vaccine responses were also investigated. The group’s research also included a major study on the immunogenetics of malaria in young African children.


The centerpiece of the current research program is the Mechanisms of Acute Viral Respiratory Illness in Children (MAVRIC) study. Children are recruited on presentation to the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children (PMH) Emergency Department (ED) with an asthma exacerbation. A comprehensive panel of data and samples are collected at the time of the attack and when the children have recovered at least 6 weeks later. This project has allowed us to investigate the aetiology of asthma attacks, identifying the critical role of respiratory viruses and particularly human rhinovirus (HRV) in precipitating and perpetuating asthma exacerbations. A new NHMRC grant to study HRV species C was awarded for 2013-2015. The genes expressed during the attack, each child’s microbiome and their immune responses are being investigated to determine factors that may play a role in viral susceptibility and asthma development. Another study is assessing the contribution of respiratory viruses and the microbiome to acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) in African children. The group is also collaborating in a Gates-funded study on immune responses to acute HIV infection in Africa.


The major focus over the next few years will be to investigate the immunological consequences of respiratory virus infections in acute wheeze in young children in children in both developed and developing countries. In addition, the contribution of genes involved in acute wheeze and ALRI in early life to the development of asthma and respiratory morbidity in childhood will need to be determined. Subsequent assessment of these genes as drug targets would require a prospective study of children at high risk of repetitive respiratory viral illness. 


School of Paediatrics and Child Health

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 12 August, 2014 10:35 AM