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 Projects: 


Currently, I am playing a lead role in three CAR-T immunotherapy projects.

  • I am leading the research team testing and validating three new CAR-T targets, including a CAR-T product targeting ovarian cancer. 
  • I am leading the investigation of LGR5 CAR-T cells against deadly neuroblastoma, a paediatric cancer. 
  • I am co-leading the investigation of CAR-T cell therapy for paediatric brain and central nervous system cancers. 


I led the development and the initial testing of a CAR-T cell targeting LGR5 (Leucine rich G protein receptor-5) which was funded by Carina Biotech Ltd. LGR5 CAR-T was successfully developed as a therapy for colorectal cancer and has obtained FDA approval for a phase I clinical trial, which started in December 2023 (NCT05759728). I developed and optimized a GMP CAR-T cell manufacturing protocol that routinely generates a large number of LGR5 targeting CAR-T cells with optimal characteristics. The valuable experience and insight gained during this process will be very helpful for future CAR-T cell translational work.


As part of the Cooperative Research Centre for Cell Therapy Manufacturing, I led the development of a novel chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) targeting non-functional P2X7 (nfP2X7) receptor, which is expressed on a wide range of cancers. I played a key role in the development and initial testing of this CAR-T cell. This project has resulted in intellectual property, and I am a joint inventor of the nfP2X7 CAR-T cell design and use patents. The successful development of this CAR-T cell led to the inception of Carina Biotech. This work is published in Nature Communications 2023.     


Previous projects:  Since joining Molecular Immunology Lab in 2015-2016 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



  • 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
  • (2024-2026) CIB WCH foundation Bloom grant: CAR-T therapy for brain and central nervous system cancers ($1.8 million).
  • (2024-2025) CIA Channel 7 children’s research foundation grant: LGR5 targeting CAR-T cells against deadly neuroblastoma, a paediatric cancer ($100,000).
  • (2024) CIC Beat cancer Ovarian cancer grant ($ 84,000)
  • (2017-2024) Novel CAR-T cell development funded by Carina Biotech

I am very interested in contributing to building up the future generation of scientists. I am currently co-supervising and mentoring three PhD students working on CAR-T cell related projects.

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

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2024 Co-Supervisor Investigating dual targeting CAR-T cells for the treatment of brain tumours Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Abbey Rose Marshall
    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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