Dr Alan Hsu

Dr Alan Hsu

What are your research interests?

Virus infections and immunity: How well we prepare in "peace time" will determine how well we respond during "war time". I am exploring how infectious viruses including influenza infect and interact with human immune systems, and identifying novel prevention/treatment strategies against future influenza pandemics.

Infections in Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): People with asthma or COPD are highly vulnerable to viral infections, leading to severe symptoms with increased risk of death. I am investigating how immune responses are dysregulated in asthma and COPD, and identifying novel therapeutic targets for those with asthma and COPD.

Why did you get into research?

I like solving mysteries, particularly the great complexities and pathophysiology of viruses and host, and of chronic airways diseases.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

By understanding interactions between viruses and human immune system, I aim to identify novel therapeutic targets that prevent infections by future pandemic viruses, particularly those with chronic airways diseases.

Biography

Dr Alan Hsu is a post-doctoral researcher who focuses on the influenza virus infections and human innate immunity in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Influenza causes enormous morbidity and mortality with high socio-economic consequences worldwide. The rapid mutation rate of influenza virus leads to new highly pathogenic strains or the conversion of existing ones into human transmissible virus poses a serious risk to human health. 

Dr Hsu is investigating the mechanisms of influenza infection and potential immune abnormalities that are present in those with asthma or COPD. This work is important to discover novel immune signaling interactions and pathways that can be targeted as novel therapeutics. 

The importance and quality of Dr Hsu’s research is reflected on his success in winning a prestigious Ann Woolcock Young Investigator Award at the annual conference of Thoracic Society of Australia & New Zealand in 2012. This is followed by a patent application submission on the novel methods of inhibition of influenza virus infections. In 2013 he was awarded the Priority Research Centre Early Career Research Development Award from University of Newcastle for his overall research on influenza infection/immunity, and in asthma/COPD. 

He has published several peer-reviewed articles in the field of both influenza virology, immunology, and respiratory diseases. He has also presented his work at several national and international meetings. He has received several travel awards from societies including the Thoracic Society of Australia & New Zealand, and prestigious international immunology society ICIS and FIMSA to present his work. He has also been invited to Universiti Putra Malaysia for a special seminar on his current work on viral infections and immunity in 2015. 

Dr Hsu has been successful in obtaining continuous research grants from John Hunter Charitable Trusts as the lead investigator. This allows him to investigate various aspects of immune defects in asthma and COPD. He has also obtained an early career research grant from University of Newcastle in 2014-15. His work has also led to a successful NHMRC project grant led by Professor Peter Wark and Professor Philip Hansbro on enhancing innate antiviral immune responses in COPD.

Future Focus

Current therapies for both influenza and for those with chronic airways diseases have serious limitations. As a scientist, I aim to further understand the mechanisms of pathogenesis and to develop new therapeutic approaches that prevent or reduces infection rates by current and future influenza pandemics not only in people with asthma and COPD, but for the general public. This will have enormous health and socioeconomic benefits for Australia and globally.

Specialised/ Technical Skills

  • Genetic cloning
  • Mutagenesis
  • RNA/DNA work
  • Viral infections
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Flow cytometry
  • Light and confocal microscopy.

Affiliations 

  • HMRI Virus, Infections / Immunity, Vaccines and Asthma
  • UoN PRC Asthma & Respiratory Diseases
  • UoN Institutional Biosafety Committee
  • Australasian Society for Immunology
  • Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand