Dr Emma Hamilton-Williams

Senior Research Fellow

The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute
Faculty of Medicine

Director (Research Training)

Research Strategy and Support (Medicine)
Faculty of Medicine

Overview

Dr. Hamilton-Williams is an immunologist who holds a Career Development Fellowship from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation specializing in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. Her early career focused on understanding how specific genetic defects associated with autoimmune disease disrupt immune tolerance leading to type 1 diabetes. Her work was instrumental to our understanding of how defects in the interleukin-2 pathway are linked to type 1 diabetes. Currently a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, her laboratory focuses on the role of the gut microbiota in type 1 diabetes as well as immunotherapeutic approaches aimed at restoring immune tolerance in type 1 diabetes. The Hamilton-Williams lab is using a cutting-edge stool metaproteomic platform to probe the interactions between the gut microbiota and autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes patients. Her work aims to utilize stool microbiota analysis as a tool for monitoring disease progression and response to immune and microbiota targeting therapies. Her second area of focus is the development of an antigen-specific immunotherapy for treatment or prevention of type 1 diabetes. These studies are now being translated for use in type 1 diabetes patients with a clinical trial planned.

Research Interests

  • Immunotherapy for type 1 diabetes
    The Hamilton-Williams lab is currently using liposomal nanoparticles to develop a vaccine to specifically prevent or treat type 1 diabetes. Liposomes are a safe and tailorable vehicle to deliver immune-modulating drugs and antigen in order to induce tolerance in islet-specific T cells. Our current work is optimising the delivery route, frequency, antigen and adjunct therapies in order to maximise disease protection from our immunotherapy. This approach is being translated for human use with the first clinical trial planning in progress.
  • The gut microbiome in type 1 diabetes
    Our second theme focuses on understanding disease pathogenesis in type 1 diabetes with a focus on the gut microbiota. We have pioneered the use of metaproteomics to understand host-microbiota interactions in type 1 diabetes. We hope to use this approach to uncover novel biomarkers associated with intestinal inflammation in type 1 diabetes and are now using this method to monitor therapeutic response in a gut microbiota targeted clinical trial. We are also studying the tole of the gut microbiome and gut virome as potential triggers of type 1 diabetes and seek to develop clinical tests to predict future disease progression.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Science with Honours, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Australian National University

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • Environmental factors such as diet and infections are thought to influence the development of type 1 diabetes. We are investigating the link between environment, the gut microbiota and predisposition to type 1 diabetes. This project will use a clinical cohort of stool samples to investigate changes in both human and microbiota derived factors that are associated with increasing risk of developing disease. Techniques to be used will include proteomics, bioinformatics and bacterial gene seqeuncing. The applicant should have some background in either protein chemistry, immunology or bioinformatics techniques.

  • Type 1 diabetes results from the loss of immune tolerance to the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Development of immunotherapy stategies to either prevent or treat type 1 diabetes by deleting autoreactive T cells and improving long-lasting immune regulation are urgently needed for this disease. We am to trial novel combination therapies aimed at both inhibiting the activation of effector T cells and expanding regulatory T cells. In addition we are investigating antigen-sepcific approaches to specifically target the pathogenic T cells.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Master Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

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.

  • Environmental factors such as diet and infections are thought to influence the development of type 1 diabetes. We are investigating the link between environment, the gut microbiota and predisposition to type 1 diabetes. This project will use a clinical cohort of stool samples to investigate changes in both human and microbiota derived factors that are associated with increasing risk of developing disease. Techniques to be used will include proteomics, bioinformatics and bacterial gene seqeuncing. The applicant should have some background in either protein chemistry, immunology or bioinformatics techniques.

  • Type 1 diabetes results from the loss of immune tolerance to the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Development of immunotherapy stategies to either prevent or treat type 1 diabetes by deleting autoreactive T cells and improving long-lasting immune regulation are urgently needed for this disease. We am to trial novel combination therapies aimed at both inhibiting the activation of effector T cells and expanding regulatory T cells. In addition we are investigating antigen-sepcific approaches to specifically target the pathogenic T cells.