About

Dr. Ana Maria Valencia-Hernandez is a postdoctoral research fellow currently associated with the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University (JCU). Ana counts with international education and expertise in the fields of immunology, intracellular pathogens, and vaccine development. Her current research endeavours revolve around the development of novel T-cell based vaccines for tuberculosis (TB).

Ana studied Microbiology at Universidad de los Andes in Colombia, then moved to Germany for her Master’s program at the University of Würzburg. She completed her PhD as part of a joint program between the University of Bonn and The University of Melbourne in 2021, with the goal of optimising a malaria vaccine in animals. Under the supervision of Prof. Heath, her PhD project developed a novel vaccination strategy for the generation of liver resident memory T cells capable of preventing malaria infection. A successful murine vaccine was produced that conferred more than 90% sterile protection in mice. For her second PhD project, she investigated how TLR ligands function as adjuvants for the generation of tissue resident memory T cells.

Ana's research findings have featured in prestigious scientific journals such as Cell Host & Microbe and Science Immunology and has also been presented at numerous national and international conferences. With a particular focus on the development of immunisation strategies that promote the generation of tissue resident memory T cells, important for the local control of tumours and infections.

Driven by a passion for improving human health and advancing knowledge, at this early career stage, Ana has received several notable awards, and scholarships throughout her academic journey. These include two ECR grants as CIA; two scholarships, one from the University of Melbourne to perform PhD by research and a second one from the Universidad de los Andes to undertake undergraduate studies in Colombia; invitations to present in overseas Annual Meetings and travel grants for conference participation.

Ana’s is a driven team player with a collegial attitude and cultural competence with collaborators from various institutes across Germany and Australia. She is passionate about science communication and data presentation and is committed to stablish new interdisciplinary collaborations.

Interests
Research
  • Tuberculosis
  • Malaria
  • Vaccine development
  • T cell-based vaccines
  • BCG
  • Animal models
  • Immunology
Experience
  • 2022 to present - Postdoctoral Researcher, James Cook University (Cairns)
  • 2021 - Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Melbourne (Melbourne)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
Honours
Awards
  • 2016 - Travel and participation Grant for the German Center for Infection Research, Immunology Autumn School awarded by ImmunoSensation: Bonn Cluster of Excellence.
Fellowships
  • 2021 - Fellowship bursary, Federation of Immunological Societies of Asia-Oceania Congress (AUD$200)
  • 2018 - Melbourne Research Scholarship awarded by The University of Melbourne to high achieving students undertaking research programs.
Memberships
  • 2018 - Australasian Society for Immunology
Publications

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

VALIDATE - Pump-Priming Grant

Evaluation of BCG?BCG1419c:ESAT6-PE25SS in immunocompetent and immunocompromised mouse models of TB

Indicative Funding
$98,016 over 1 year
Summary
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health concern that causes more than 1.5 million deaths each year. Vaccination is considered one of the most effective ways to eliminate TB. However, the only licensed TB vaccine, called BCG, provides limited protection against the disease in adults and can cause dangerous side effects in people with weaker immune systems. This project aims to investigate whether a new vaccine candidate can induce a stronger immune response and better protection against tuberculosis in mice with normal immune systems and is well-tolerated in mice with compromised immune systems, when compared with the original BCG vaccine.
Investigators
Ana Maria Valencia Hernandez, Socorro Miranda-Hernandez, Guangzu Zhao, Andreas Kupz and Mario Alberto Flores-Valdez (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and CIATEJ)
Keywords
Mycobacterium Tuberculosis; Vaccine Development; Immunology; Bcg; Infectious deseases
Supervision

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

Current
  • Understanding Immunogenicity, Safety and Protective Efficacy of next-generation Vaccines for Tuberculosis (PhD , External Advisor)
Collaboration

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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  5. A/Prof Andreas Kupz
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