Research group of Professor Wolfgang Weninger

Research group of Professor Wolfgang Weninger

From left to right: Keiko Matsuzaki, Paula Nascimento, Eunice Tan, Jim Qin, Saparna Pai, Ben Roediger, Andrea Anfosso, Wolfgang Weninger, Mary Mouawad, Paulus Mrass, Ichiko Kinjo, Lois Cavanagh, Sioh-Yang Tan, Lai Guan Ng and Nikolas Haass.

Professor Wolfgang Weninger is the Raymond E. Purves Professor of Dermatology at the University of Sydney, Australia. He also heads the Immune Imaging Program at The Centenary Institute. This institute was created in 1982 to mark the centenaries of the University of Sydney Medical School and the Royal Prince Alfred Teaching Hospital. Wolfgang’s main research interests relate to the visualization of immune responses in tumors and infectious diseases. In particular, his research group is using multi-photon microscopy, which facilitates the real-time imaging of cells in living tissues. From these studies, they hope to generate improved immunotherapies and vaccines against malignancies and infections.

Wolfgang received his clinical training in Immuno-Dermatology in the Division of Immunology, Allergy, and Infectious Diseases at the Department of Dermatology at the University of Vienna Medical School (1992 - 1999). Upon completing his clinical training, he spent 4 years as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Professor Ulrich von Andrian’s laboratory at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. In November 2003, Wolfgang joined the Immunology Program at the Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, as an Assistant Professor. In May 2007, he commenced his current position at the University of Sydney. In addition, he heads an independent research group at the Centenary Institute.

The Weninger lab aims to understand the cellular and molecular cues that regulate immune cell migration and interactions at sites of inflammation and within tumors. To this end, the group is using cutting-edge intravital multi-photon microscopy to track immune cells in real time at a single cell level. The laboratory exploits a variety of experimental disease models (such as microbial infections of the skin and skin tumors) to visualize immune cells, structural components of organs (such as collagen fibers), as well as infected cells or cancer cells. Mechanistic insight into the processes that regulate immune cell behavior in diseased organs has important implications for the optimisation of therapeutic strategies that aim to target cancer and infection. Wolfgang’s contribution to the field is evident in his many original articles in leading biomedical journals, including Science, Nature, Nature Immunology, Immunity, the Journal of Experimental Medicine, and PLoS Pathogens as well as review articles in top journals such as Immunological Reviews and Seminars in Immunology.

Wolfgang says: “In our lab, Volocity software is used for generating high-quality time lapse movies from our intravital imaging experiments. We further use the software for the analysis of cellular behavior, such as migratory velocities and directionality as well as cellular interaction times”.

Professor Weninger’s research profile can be viewed at

The figure shows the interactions between a dermal dendritic cell and the parasite Leishmania major (an intracellular pathogen which targets macrophages and dendritic cells). The image was captured using intravital multi-photon microscopy. Within minutes of L. major (red)inoculation in mouse ear skin, dermal dendritic cells (yellow) in the vicinity of the parasites decreased their migratory speed and transformed into a more dendritic cell-like morphology. This was paralleled by the appearance of intracellular vacuoles, each of them containing a single red parasite. Blue signals represent second harmonic generation from the collagen fibers in the dermis. Image courtesy of Lai Guan Ng and Wolfgang Weninger.