Ken Shortman

Laboratory Head, Immunology
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Prof Ken Shortman now has an honorary position at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI). He was Head of the Immunology Division at WEHI from 1997 to 2005. He was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1999. He is awaiting acceptance of his 342nd scientific publication.

Ken Shortman obtained his science degree from Sydney University, originally training as a plant biochemist. He obtained his PhD with Gordon Ada at WEHI when Burnet was director, then had post-doctoral training with Slonimsky at Gif-sur-Yvette, France, and with Kornberg and Lehman at Stanford University; he was then a molecular biologist, before the term was invented. He returned to WEHI in 1964, and has been there ever since, apart from a series of sabbatical periods in France and Switzerland, and recently serving as a Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore.

Ken Shortman’s research at WEHI was initially in the field of biophysics, developing procedures for immune cell isolation. These techniques were then applied to the field of cellular immunology. Immune cell development became his major research theme; his work on mapping the pathway of T cell development in the thymus with Roland Scollay and Li Wu being especially notable. In 1990 his attention shifted to dendritic cells (DC) and he is probably best known now for his studies on DC development and on DC subset separation and function. This basic information on DC biology is now being applied to vaccine development in his research with Irene Caminschi and Mireille Lahoud at the Monash University on modulating immune responses by targeting antigens to DC surface molecules in situ.