Lisa Connor

Dr Lisa Connor profile picture

Cellular Immunology and Vaccination School of Biological Sciences


Teaching in 2020

Personal Bio

PhD University of Otago, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research | BMedSc (Hons) Victoria University of Wellington

I am a cellular immunologist with an interest in the host-pathogen interface. The research I carried out during my PhD at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research with Dr Jo Kirman and post-doctoral fellowship at the Trudeau Institute, NY, USA, with Dr David Woodland, focused on vaccination against respiratory diseases tuberculosis and influenza.

After returning to New Zealand in 2012, my research interests turned to dendritic cells, where I investigated dendritic cell instruction of immune cell fate with Prof. Franca Ronchese at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research. In 2017 I was awarded a Sir Charles Hercus fellowship from the Health Research Council of New Zealand to examine the impact of the tissue microenvironment on Dendritic cell function. In 2018 I established my research lab in the School of Biological Sciences.

Research Interests

The goal of our laboratory is to understand how the immune system is primed by microbes so that we can design better vaccines that stimulate the most appropriate immune defence.

We are constantly under attack from millions of microbial pathogens which vary in size, pathogenicity, route of transmission and potency. Our immune systems play a remarkable role in the defence against these microscopic villains, and have evolved distinct strategies specifically designed to eliminate the different types of pathogens.

Our immune systems are equipped with the ability to remember past foe, and can mount a faster superior response upon re-exposure, which is the basis of vaccination. The goal for vaccine development is to provide the best mimic and ensure all the necessary cues have been triggered.

The aim of our laboratory is to identify the molecular and cellular cues that determine which immune strategy to employ.

Research objectives

  • Identify the impact of the skin and lung microenvironment on dendritic cell function and heterogeneity of adaptive immunity
  • Identify key molecules involved in dendritic cell:T cell communication
  • Investigate B cell responses and antibody production to vaccines that harness tissue resident innate-like lymphocytes
  • Target lung resident lymphocyte populations to develop mucosal vaccines for influenza


Connor LM, Tang SC, Cognard E, Ochiai S, Hilligan K, Old S, Pellefigues C, White R, Patel D, Smith A, Eccles D, Lamiable O, McConnell M, Ronchese F. Th2 responses are primed by skin dendritic cells with distinct transcriptional profiles. 2017. J Exp Med. 214 (1): 125.

Pellefigues C, Tang SC, Schmidt A, White R, Lamiable O, Connor LM, Ruedl C, Dobrucki J, Le Gros G, and Ronchese F. TLR4, but not Neutrophil extracellular traps, promote IFN type I expression to enhance Th2 responses to Nippostrongylus brasiliensis. 2017 Front Immunol. 16 (8) 1575.

Connor LM, Lamiable O, Ronchese F. Fetal dendritic cells give mum a break. 2017Immunol Cell Biol. 95(7):575-576

Webb L, Lundie R, Borger J, Dougall A, Connor LM, Cartwright A, Wilbers R, Brown S, Cook P, Jones L, Phythian-Adams A, Johansson C, Davis D, Dewals D, Ronchese F and MacDonald A. A central role for Type I IFN in Th2 response induction by dendritic cells. 2017. EMBO J.36 (16): 2404-2418.

Hilligan K, Connor LM*#, Schmidt A, Ronchese F. Activation-induced TIM-4 expression identifies differential responsiveness of intestinal CD103+ CD11b+ dendritic cells to a mucosal adjuvant. 2016. PLoS One. 11(7): e0158775

Connor LM, Tang SC, Camberis M, Le Gros G, Ronchese F. Helminth-conditioned dendritic cells prime CD4+ T Cells to IL-4 production in vivo. 2014 J immunol. 193 (6):2709-17.

Connor. L.M, Ryan. L, Kohlmeier. J.E, Cookenham. T, Roberts. A.D Woodland. D.L.

Early dysregulation of the memory CD8+ T cell repertoire leads to compromised immune responses to secondary viral infection in the aged. 2012. Immun Ageing. (9) 28

View more publications at Google Scholar.


Teaching in 2020