Dr Frank Vari

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Institute for Molecular Bioscience
+61 7 344 37060


An immunologist with a long-standing interest in the immune response to, and immune micro-environment asssociated with, a variety of blood cancers, specifically lymphoma and myeloma.

Had significant expertise in the dendritic cell and T-cell immunotherapy for the treament of malignancy. Have been responsible for the design of implementation of pioneering, early phase clincal trials of cellular immunotherapy for chronic myeloid leukaemia, melanoma and prostate cancer (1999-2001), prostate cancer and myeloma (2003-2009) and EBV+ve lymphoma (2009-2011).

Expert in a number of in vitro immunological techniques, including immunomagnetic cell isolation and flow cytometry with a strong understanding of the practicalities of translational research. Quite capable of bringing research outcomes into the clinic.

Research Interests

  • CD163 identifies a highly immunosuppressive subset of moMDSC in poor-risk diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
    In diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), raised monocyte and low lymphocyte blood counts are associated with inferior outcome. This is believed to be mediated by suppression of effector (NK and T) lymphocytes by CD14+HLA-DRlo monocytoid-myeloid derived suppressor cells (moMDSC), but has not been prospectively validated. Intra-tumoral CD163 expression (a M2 tumor associated macrophage marker) also appears prognostically adverse. The relationship between CD163 and moMDSC, and their influence on antiCD20 monoclonal antibody NK-cell antibody-dependent cellular-cytotoxicity (ADCC) in DLBCL is unknown.
  • Natural Killer cell effector function
    Although Natural killer (NK) cells are key innate immune effectors, the underlying molecular mechanisms controlling their function are poorly understood. NK cells also release cytokines that are important in stimulating and regulating an effector immune response, of which interferon gamma (IFNγ) is the best characterized. In addition to its direct effects on inhibiting viral replication, IFNγ has important effects on macrophages and T-cells, inducing their enhanced function. Modulating NK cell function, through drugs which influence the unfolded protein response, may improve their anti-cancer activity and lead to novel approaches for eradicated NK-susceptible tumours.

Research Impacts

As a result of service on the Mater human research ethics committee (HREC), I have an advanced understanding of clinical trial design and the ethical issues associated with treatments utilizing novel therapies. I am committed to promoting the significance of medical research to a general audience by participating in a broad range of community engagement activities including prostate cancer immunotherapy roadshow at various Lions Clubs in Southeast Queensland and the promotion of medical research to government policy makers and political leaders as an advocate in the political process.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland


  • Gandhi, Maher K., Hoang, Thanh, Law, Soi C., Brosda, Sandra, O'Rourke, Kacey, Tobin, Joshua W. D., Vari, Frank, Murigneux, Valentine, Fink, J. Lynn, Gunawardana, Jay, Gould, Clare M., Oey, Harald, Bednarska, Karolina, Delecluse, Susanne, Trappe, Ralf Ulrich, de Long, Lilia Merida, Sabdia, Muhammed Bilal, Bhagat, Govind, Hapgood, Greg, Blyth, Emily, Clancy, Leighton E., Wight, Joel, Hawkes, Eliza A., Rimsza, Lisa M., Maguire, Alanna, Bojarczuk, Kamil, Chapuy, Bjoern and Keane, Colm (2021). EBV-associated primary CNS lymphoma occurring after immunosuppression is a distinct immunobiological entity. Blood, 137 (11), 1468-1477. doi: 10.1182/blood.2020008520

  • Braun, Matthias, Aguilera, Amelia Roman, Sundarrajan, Ashmitha, Corvino, Dillon, Stannard, Kimberley, Krumeich, Sophie, Das, Indrajit, Lima, Luize G., Meza Guzman, Lizeth G., Li, Kunlun, Li, Rui, Salim, Nazhifah, Jorge, Maria Villancanas, Ham, Sunyoung, Kelly, Gabrielle, Vari, Frank, Lepletier, Ailin, Raghavendra, Ashwini, Pearson, Sally, Madore, Jason, Jacquelin, Sebastien, Effern, Maike, Quine, Brodie, Koufariotis, Lambros T., Casey, Mika, Nakamura, Kyohei, Seo, Eun Y., Hölzel, Michael, Geyer, Matthias ... Bald, Tobias (2020). CD155 on tumor cells drives resistance to immunotherapy by inducing the degradation of the activating receptor CD226 in CD8+ T cells. Immunity, 53 (4), 805-823.e15. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2020.09.010

  • Nakamura, Kyohei, Casey, Mika, Oey, Harald, Vari, Frank, Stagg, John, Gandhi, Maher K. and Smyth, Mark J. (2020). Targeting an adenosine-mediated “don’t eat me signal” augments anti-lymphoma immunity by anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody. Leukemia, 34 (10), 2708-2721. doi: 10.1038/s41375-020-0811-3

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