Laboratory equipment

A Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) researcher has been awarded a grant to better understand how sex hormones influence the immune system.

Associate Professor Boris Novakovic’s work will be supported by The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, which has named him as one of 18 Allen Distinguished Investigators.

Boris Novakovic

ADI Award winner Associate Professor Boris Novakovic

The successful Investigators will lead cutting-edge, early-stage international research projects that promise to advance biology and medicine.

Associate Professor Novakovic’s longitudinal study will follow transgender people undertaking Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy (GAHT) to establish how their immune systems respond to sex hormones estradiol and testosterone. He will work alongside a team of experts from the University of Melbourne, Austin Health and Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (Radboud University, Netherlands).

“We know that women’s immune systems are generally better at responding to infections, such as COVID-19, compared to men’s immune systems, however they are more prone to auto-immune diseases,” Associate Professor Novakovic said.

“Our research will help us to improve health outcomes for transgender patients going through GAHT, which may also shed light on how sex hormones influence immunity in the wider population.”

Associate Professor Novakovic said his work would look at the immune responses of patients as individuals, not just at a broad population level.

The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group is part of the Seattle-based Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which funds critical work across bioscience, environment and the arts.