Dr Veronika Bandara

Research Fellow (B) (with PhD)

School of Biomedicine

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Post-doctoral researcher in molecular biology, with extensive laboratory experience, well developed written and oral communication skills, time management skills, and a strong team spirit. I’m seeking to utilise my knowledge and experience to make a positive contribution in solving health related biological problems.

Current project:  Since joining Molecular Immunology Lab in 2015-Validation of Special AT Rich Binding Protein 1(SATB1) promoter-enhancer interactions in human CD4+ T cells.

SATB1 is highly enriched in T cell lineages where it has multiple roles in T cell lineage commitment and differentiation. We have used a cutting edge molecular biology technique circular chromosome conformation capture- high throughput sequencing (4Cseq) to examine the long-range transcriptional regulation of SATB1. Using our analysis and prioritisation pipeline, we identified several clusters of novel long range interaction between the SATB1 promoter and regions that display active enhancer marks in CD4+ T cells. Critically, these contact regions are proposed to form a special regulatory element termed a super-enhancers in stimulated CD4+Tconv cells, contain FOXP3 binding sites in human regulatory T cells, and are located within autoimmune disease risk loci. We have tested a super enhancer regions in transient transfection assays in Jurkat T cells and find that in the absence of FOXP3 this enhancer region up-regulates the SATB1 promoter in response to stimulation, however this up-regulation is significantly repressed by the co-expression of FOXP3 in these cells in a DNA binding domain dependant manner. Together this data suggests that we have 1) identified a critical regulatory region and 2) identified how non-coding autoimmune-linked sequence variation may function at the molecular level. Currently we are preparing a manuscript to publish this work. These findings will lead to identify molecular mechanisms of how this region functions in healthy individuals and how this function maybe altered by autoimmune linked sequence variation- using primary human cells/ATAC-seq and mouse models

Previous projects

The role of prolyl hydroxylases in oxygen-induced retinopathy in the rat

Retinopathy of prematurity is a blinding eye disease affecting premature infants exposed to high oxygen. I was involved in investigating an siRNA mediated intervention method to reverse the phenotype of oxygen induced retinopathy in a rat model. I set up an experiment to test three different siRNA based intra-vitreal eye injections with the help of technicians and animal house staff. I learnt the procedure for administering an intra-vitral eye injection from the ophthalmologist Dr Celia Chen. One of the siRNA based injections proved to be effective in reversing oxygen induced ROP in rats. Through this work I had firsthand experience in using gene therapy (siRNA based drug development) to treat ROP. It increased my skills in molecular biology techniques, I gained experience in setting up in vivo experiments and working with animal models. Currently, more work is been done on this project to further confirm the results. We are in the process of preparing a manuscript for publication.

PhD research: Hypoxia mediates the global reduction of microRNAs through repressive effects on microRNA biogenesis proteins. Hypothesis: hypoxia mediates the global reduction of microRNAs through repressive effects on microRNA biogenesis proteins. Findings: significant reduction of Dicer mRNA and protein levels in breast cancer cells exposed to hypoxia. This effect was independent of HIF but dependent on the HIF hydroxylase PHD2 and was partly mediated by feedback effects via microRNAs. Other proteins with critical roles in microRNA biogenesis (Drosha, TARBP2 and DCGR8) also showed significant and co-ordinated repression under hypoxic conditions. These observations provide further and important interfaces between oxygen availability and gene expression and a potential mechanistic explanation for the reduced levels of microRNAs observed in some cancers. These finding were published in the peer reviewed scientific journal BMC Cancer These finding were published in the peer reviews scientific journal BMC Cancer Bandara, V., Michael, M.Z. and Gleadle, J.M. (2014). “Hypoxia represses miRNA biogenesis proteins in breast cancer cells.” BMC Cancer 14:533.

Honours research: Investigated the diversity of yellow staining mushrooms of the Agaricus xanthodermus complex responsible for the majority of macro-fungal poisonings in Australia. Morphological analysis was done using data gathered through examining macroscopic and microscopic characters of the collected specimens. Sequence data of the ITS1 and ITS2 regions of the nuclear ribosomal DNA were compared with known sequences and those on EMBL/GenBank database to identify species. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the collections examined divided into three distinct groups and these groups represented three sections; Xanthodermatei, Duploannulati and Arvensis, of the genus Agaricus. We are currently in the process of further analysing the results and preparing a manuscript for publication.

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2016 - ongoing University Postdoctoral Fellow University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2016 - ongoing Postdoctoral Researcher CRC for Cell Therapy Manufacturing
    2015 - 2015 Research Officer University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2014 - 2015 Research Officer Flinders University, Adelaide
    2006 - 2009 Research Assistant Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    English Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
    Sinhala; Sinhalese Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2010 - 2013 Flinders University, Adelaide Australia PhD
    2008 - 2009 Flinders University, Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Hons) (First class)
    2003 - 2005 University of South Australia, Adelaide Australia Master of Business Administration and Management

Australian Postgraduate award, Flinders University-2010

Research Student Conference Travel Grant, Flinders University-2012

  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2022 Co-Supervisor Optimisation of Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells for Pan Solid Tumour Immunotherapy Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jieren Zheng
    2021 Co-Supervisor The Development of Chimeric Antigen Receptor Regulatory T cells (CAR-Tregs) as a Novel Therapy for Autoimmune-driven Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Jacqueline Claire Scaffidi
  • Presentation

    Date Topic Presented at Institution Country
    2019 - 2019 In vitro and in vivo evaluation of non-functional P2X7 protein (nfP2X7) as a CAR T target for the treatment of solid tumours. Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology University of Adelaide Australia
  • Position: Research Fellow (B) (with PhD)
  • Email: veronika.bandara@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: Womens & Childrens Hospital
  • Building: WCH - Clarence Rieger Building, floor 2
  • Org Unit: Medical Sciences

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