Sepsis occurs when the body’s immune response to infection damages its own tissues. In severe cases, multiple organ failure can occur. If not treated promptly, the patient will die. Worryingly, with the rise of drug-resistant bacteria, we are expected to see an increase in sepsis incidences in Queensland. Yet, we currently don't have reliable treatments for it. Our solution is to target the immune system itself. My PhD focuses on a machine in our cells that is important for recognising bacterial infection and recruiting immune responders. My goal is to discover how we can switch this machine on and off. Through my work, I hope that we can develop drugs to artificially dampen the damaging immune activity during sepsis. This would improve the clinical outcome of sepsis patients, and decrease the high economic burden on our healthcare system. My work will also open new avenues for inflammation research in Queensland. 

I’ve always been interested in how the human body works and in unlocking its secrets. This lead me to research in one of the greatest enigmas in human biology: inflammation. Inflammation is the underlying cause of many (if not most) diseases, including bacterial sepsis. I’m currently a PhD student in the Inflammasome Lab at the University of Queensland. This position lead me to many interesting scientific discoveries, and offered me multiple teaching and science communication opportunities.

Amy Chan - @amy_chancan