Associate Professor Katharina Ronacher

Honorary Associate Professor

Mater Research Institute-UQ
Faculty of Medicine

Overview

A/Prof Katharina Ronacher obtained an MSc degree in Medical Biochemistry from the University of Vienna (Austria). Thereafter, she was awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Austrian Ministry of Science and Technology to complete a PhD at the University of Cape Town (South Africa). She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Stellenbosch University, where she was subsequently offered a faculty position. A/Prof Ronacher was Senior Scientist on several large clinical research trials funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the European Union and the US National Institutes of Health with focus on identification of biomarkers for tuberculosis (TB) treatment response. In parallel, she established her independent research group investigating how endocrine factors impact immune responses to TB, for which she received uninterrupted funding from national and international funding bodies since 2008. In 2015, she was awarded a NIH R01 grant for her ground-breaking research into the underlying immunological and metabolic mechanisms of increased susceptibility of diabetes patients to TB. With this grant she has lead the international ALERT Consortium with clinical field sites in South Africa and at the Texas/Mexico border.

She relocated to Brisbane in 2017, where she now heads the Infection, Immunity and Metabolism group at the Mater Research Institute – University of Queensland, but continues to collaborate with clinicians and researchers in South Africa, the USA and Europe.

A/Prof Ronacher's current research investigates the underlying immunological mechanisms contributing to more severe bacterial and viral respiratory infections in obesity and diabetes. Her research provides critical insights into the role of cholesterol and its derivatives in regulation of inflammation in the lung and how this knowledge can be exploided for novel therapeutic approaches to treat respiratory infections.

Research Impacts

A/Prof Ronacher has published in high-ranking journals including Nature, Nature Medicine, JAMA and Clinical and Infectious Diseases. Two of her articles have been cited by WHO policy documents, highlighting the impact of her research on clinical practice, and nine publications have been cited by 17 patent applications.

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • Intracellular pathogens are difficutl to eradicate as they hide within host cells to evade the host's immune system. One of these pathogens is Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

    Despite effective anti-biotic therapy the majority of "cured" tuberculosis patients continue to have active lung lesions containing live mycobacteria beyond treatment completion. For this reason we have been unable to eradicate this ancient disease, which has been with human kind for over 9000 years. Sub-optimal, non-sterilizing treatment combined with the concurrent rise in antibiotic resistance thus necessitates innovative treatment strategies.

    We have identified several promising host-targets and have PhD positions available on this topic in our laboratory. To find out more please contact the Head of the Infection, Immunity and Metabolism Group Katharina Ronacher email: katharina.ronacher@mater.uq.edu.au

  • Our laboratory recently identified a role for oxidised cholesterols in the lung during viral respiratory infections. This project investigates the role oxysterols play in the lung during influenza and COVID-19 and how this knowledge can be exploited to improve viral respiratory infection outcomes.

    To find out more, please contact the Head of the Infection, Immunity and Metabolism Group A/Prof Katharina Ronacher email:

    katharina.ronacher@mater.uq.edu.au

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Ronacher, Katharina, Djoba-Siawaya, Joel Fleury and Walzl, Gerhard (2011). Cytokines in pulmonary tuberculosis. Cytokines. (pp. 123-137) edited by Victor R. Preedy and Ross Hunter. Boca Raton, Florida, United States: CRC Press.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Gemiarto, Adrian T., Sinha, Roma, Sajiir, Haressh, Hailu, Semira, Bartlett, Stacey, Ngo, Minh Dao, Foo, Cheng Xiang, Kleynhans, Leanie, Tshivhula, Happy, Bielefeldt-Ohmann, Helle, Schlesinger, Larry S., Walzl, Gerhard, Rosenkilde, Mette M., Mandrup-Poulsen, T and Ronacher, Katharina (2020). A cholesterol receptor regulates interferons and bacterial growth during M. tuberculosis infection. Keystone Symposia: Tuberculosis Immunity and Immune Evasion, Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States, 16-21 January 2020.

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • Intracellular pathogens are difficutl to eradicate as they hide within host cells to evade the host's immune system. One of these pathogens is Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

    Despite effective anti-biotic therapy the majority of "cured" tuberculosis patients continue to have active lung lesions containing live mycobacteria beyond treatment completion. For this reason we have been unable to eradicate this ancient disease, which has been with human kind for over 9000 years. Sub-optimal, non-sterilizing treatment combined with the concurrent rise in antibiotic resistance thus necessitates innovative treatment strategies.

    We have identified several promising host-targets and have PhD positions available on this topic in our laboratory. To find out more please contact the Head of the Infection, Immunity and Metabolism Group Katharina Ronacher email: katharina.ronacher@mater.uq.edu.au

  • Our laboratory recently identified a role for oxidised cholesterols in the lung during viral respiratory infections. This project investigates the role oxysterols play in the lung during influenza and COVID-19 and how this knowledge can be exploited to improve viral respiratory infection outcomes.

    To find out more, please contact the Head of the Infection, Immunity and Metabolism Group A/Prof Katharina Ronacher email:

    katharina.ronacher@mater.uq.edu.au