Cathy Rush is an Associate Professor, Immunology and member of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM).

Her principal research interest isunderstanding the immunological mechanisms underlying inflammatory and infectious diseases.

Our body's immune system protects us from severe infectious diseases, but if it becomes overactive it can drive diseases like inflammatory lung diseases and type 2 diabetes. Although the triggers may be different, the same key immune cells and molecules are involved in all these conditions. An understanding of the basic principles, pathways and processes of our immune system is essential for devising strategies to fight infectious diseases or treat immune-mediated disorders.

Her research interests focus on this foundation: dissecting the immune mechanisms responsible for initiating and driving chronic inflammatory diseases and furthermore how these co-morbidities impair the body's efforts to combat severe bacterial diseases including tuberculosis (TB) and melioidosis.

Her expertise in mechanistic immunology and use of pre-clinical models to investigate drivers and interventions for different immune-mediated and infectious diseases has been sought across several multidisciplinary research programs. Her interests in TB and expertise in infectious disease immunology strongly align with JCUs tropical health and medicine agenda of addressing the significant health security threats facing northern Australia.

  • BM1001: Introduction to Biomedicine (Level 1; TSV)
  • BM3000: Advanced Projects in Biomedicine (Level 3; TSV)
  • BM5000: Advanced Projects in Biomedicine (Level 5; TSV)
  • MD2011: Integrated Human System Pathophysiology Part 1 of 2 (Level 2; TSV)
  • MD3011: Introduction to Clinical Healthcare Part 1 of 2 (Level 3; TSV)
  • MD3012: Introduction to Clinical Healthcare Part 2 of 2 (Level 3; TSV)
  • MI2021: Introductory Infectious Diseases and Immunobiology (Level 2; TSV)
  • MI3061: Advanced Immunobiology (Level 3; TSV)
  • MI5061: Advanced Immunology (Level 5; TSV)
  • ML5102: Advanced Laboratory Management and Quality Assurance (Level 5; TSV)
  • PC2207: Integrated Therapeutics 1 (Level 2; TSV & CNS)
  • Host-pathogen interactions in tuberculosis
  • Co-morbidities associated with tuberculosis susceptibility and progression
  • TB co-morbidities and antimicrobial resistance
  • Immunological mechanisms responsible for initiating and driving the chronic inflammatory diseases , Type 2 Diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • 2016 to present - Associate Professor, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2012 to 2015 - Senior Lecturer Immunology, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2009 to 2011 - Lecturer Immunology, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2006 to 2009 - Senior Research Scientist, Vascular Biology Unit, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2000 to 2006 - Post-doctoral scientist, University of Glasgow (Glasgow, UK)
  • 1997 to 2000 - Post-doctoral scientist, University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK)
  • 1994 to 1996 - Post-doctoral scientist, University of Siena (Siena, Italy)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2016, JCU Development Grant, Immunotherapy for Rheumatic Heart Disease, $48,795
  • 2007-2009, The Townsville Hospital - Private Practice Fund Project grant, “Role of progenitor cells in aortic calcification”, $50,000, J Golledge, C Rush.
  • 2012, James Cook University, Faculty Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning, N Ketheesan, C Rush & B Govan.
  • 2012-2013, Pathology Queensland Scientific Services Study, Education and Research Trust Fund (SERTF), “Novel Immunomodulatory Strategies for the Management of Sepsis”, $69, 450, R. Norton, S. Simpson, N. Ketheesan, C. Rush, J. Morris, B. Govan
  • 2009-11, NHMRC Project Grant (540403), “Role of the tissue kallikrein-kinin system in abdominal aortic aneurysm formation and progression”, $439,745, J Golledge, C Rush, PE Norman, H Korner, J Ott, L Gera.
  • 2016, AITHM Capacity Building Grant, Tuberculosis in rural PNG: T cell biomarkers for diagnosis and monitoring treatment, $53,000.
  • 2016, Advisor of the Year Awards, HDR Advisor Special Recognition Award
  • 2013, Advisor of the Year Awards, Advisory Panel of the Year Award with N Ketheesan and J Morris
  • 2009-11, NHMRC Project Grant (540405), “Angiopoietin-2, aortic inflammation and cardiovascular events”, $319,250, J Golledge, C Rush, PE Norman, J Ott.
  • 2009-13, NHMRC Project Grant (540404), “Association between obesity, transforming growth factor beta, thrombospondin and small abdominal aortic aneurysm progression”, $487,500, J Golledge, PE Norman, C Rush, PJ Walker, R Dalman, J Ott.
  • 2012-2015, NHMRC Project Grant (1026753), "Development of apreventive strategy for Rheumatic Heart Disease using an experimental model", $358,712, N Ketheesan & C Rush.
  • Honorary Research Fellow, University of Glasgow
  • Australian Cardiovascular Alliance
  • Society for Mucosal Immunology
  • Lung Foundation Australia
  • Australasian Society for Immunology
  • British Society for Immunology
  • American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene

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

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 90+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Catherine Rush from 1994 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Commonwealth Department of Health - Medical Research Future Fund - Cardiovascular Health

Activation of AMPK to treat abdominal aortic aneurysm (5As).

Indicative Funding
$1,044,836 over 3 years
Twenty million people worldwide (100,000 Australians) have weakening and dilatation of their main abdominal artery (AAA), responsible for 200,000 deaths/year due to aneurysm rupture. Randomised controlled trials show that surgery does not benefit patients with aneurysms <55mm in diameter. About 95% of AAAs are identified when they are small and are simply imaged every 6 to 12 months until aortic diameter becomes ?55mm, when surgery is considered. About 5% of AAAs fatally rupture during surveillance and 70% grow within 5 years to 55mm and are repaired, with the risk of complications. The lack of treatment for small AAA concerns patients who worry about aneurysm rupture, which impairs their quality of life. Surveys of patients and specialists, and our systematic reviews show the number one deficiency in AAA management is the lack of drugs to prevent aneurysm growth and rupture. A wealth of evidence suggests that pharmacological activation of the AMPK pathway may prevent AAA growth and rupture. We have access to a novel potent 5? adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway activator (O304) which has been shown to be safe in older adults for other indications. This 5As project will build on our past discoveries using our unique resources and expertise (clinically-relevant mouse model, human AAA explant culture methods, novel drug, statistical methods, human AAA biobanks, registries and genome wide data) to test if: 1. AMPK agonist 0304 inhibits aneurysm growth and rupture in our mouse model; 2. AMPK agonist 0304 reduces markers of AAA growth in human AAA samples in vitro; 3. Genetic AMPK upregulation is protective against AAA development and growth.
Jon Golledge, Joseph Moxon, Catherine Rush, Norelle Daly and Jenna Graffini (College of Medicine & Dentistry, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Prevention; Complications; Peripheral artery disease; Risk factors

Commonwealth Department of Health - Medical Research Future Fund - Cardiovascular Health

Improving clinical pathways for abdominal aortic aneurysm through incorporating biomarkers

Indicative Funding
$1,000,000 over 3 years
20 million people worldwide have weakening of their main abdominal artery (abdominal aortic aneurysm; AAA) and are at high risk of both major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) and AAA related events (AAA repair and rupture-related death). Most AAAs are identified at a small size when their risk of rupture is low. Management of small AAA focuses on repeat aortic imaging every 6 months to identify when the threshold diameter (50mm in women and 55mm in men) is reached for elective surgical AAA repair. Most small AAAs continue to grow in size and eventually undergo repair. No drugs have been shown to limit AAA growth and the clinical pathway focuses on identifying those needing surgery rather than medical management. There are no established means to individualise care. Our interviews with patients and health professionals indicate that the number one deficiency in current AAA management is the lack of individualising medical management to reduce the high incidence of MACE and AAA related events. Our international AAA alliance is uniquely placed due to our resources (biobank-registry) and IP (bioinformatics, clinical, engineering software, genomics, biomarkers, machine learning and pathogenesis) to addresses this unmet clinical need.
Jon Golledge, Clare Arnott, Thomas Gasser, Rebecca Evans, Joseph Moxon, Matt Field, Jenna Graffini, Aaron Drovandi, Dylan Morris, Svetha Venkatesh, Truyen Tran, Catherine Rush, Aletta Schutte, Robyn Clay-Williams and Geoffrey Jones (College of Medicine & Dentistry, The George Institute for Global Health, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Deakin University, University of New South Wales, Macquarie University and University of Otago)
Prevention; Complications; Peripheral artery disease; Risk Factors

Australasian Mycological Society - Research Awards

Glutathione biosynthesis in the amphibian fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.

Indicative Funding
$3,000 over 1 year
What makes a successful fungal pathogen? In this project we aim to determine the role of glutathione in fungal pathogenesis. In doing so we will develop and optimise gene knockdown protocols, which can be used more broadly to assess other virulence factors. Specifically, we will: 1: Explore glutathione biosynthesis in virulent and less- virulent strains of Bd, both in vitro and in vivo. 2: Characterise the role of glutathione in pathogenesis using knockdown techniques.
Rebecca Webb, Catherine Rush and Alexandra Roberts in collaboration with Lee Berger and Lee Skerratt (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Glutathione biosynthesis; Pathogensis; Chytrid Fungus

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

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.

  • Understanding Immunity to Tuberculosis for the Rational Design of Improved Vaccines (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Studies in the immune response to lung disease: rural PNG and urban Australia (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Gastrointestinal Parasites and Immune Dysregulation in a Tuberculosis Endemic Community in Rural Papua New Guinea (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Investigating the Impact of Neuromuscular Fatigue and Exercise Induced Muscle Damage on Motor Skills (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • Systems serology analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis antibody profiles in plasma samples from individuals from Papua New Guinea (Masters , Secondary Advisor)
  • The Persistence and Microecology of Burkholderia Pseudomallei in Townsville Groundwater (Masters , Secondary Advisor)
  • Does Oxidative Stress drive the Evolution of Drug-resistant (DR) Mycobacterium Tunerculosis (Mtb) within the Infected Macrophage? (Masters , Primary Advisor)
  • The Role of Oxidative Stress in Driving the Evolution of Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (Masters , Primary Advisor)

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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