Jack Auty

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Jack Auty

Lecturer in Biomedicine

Room 243-14 , Medical Science Precinct 2

03 6226 4849 (phone)

Dr. Jack Rivers Auty is a lecturer in the Medical Sciences in the School of Medicine at the University of Tasmania. His research focus is how inflammation can contribute to disease. Jack has a broad range of interests from how microplastics induce lung and gut inflammation to whether commonly use anti-inflammatories can be used to treat Alzheimer's disease. Jack's research group uses cell culture techniques, rodent models, human tissue, clinical data and statistical modelling to follow the science from cells in a dish all the way to people. Find out more at


Jack completed a Bachelor of Science in anatomy with a neuroscience focus at the southernmost university in the world – the University of Otago. During his degree Jack took several botany papers and fell in love with the subject, so Jack continued studies at Otago with a post graduate diploma in botany followed by a Ph.D. which combined botany and neuroscience by investigating the effects of marijuana-like synthetic cannabinoids on inflammation in the ischemic brain. Jack continued his research at the University of Otago with projects on the rotten smelling gas hydrogen sulphide as an inflammatory signalling molecule and kamikaze neutrophils who spew their DNA contents onto unsuspecting bacteria. Then Jack moved 19,000km around the world to the University of Manchester. Jacks research primarily investigated the role of the inflammasome in Alzheimer’s disease and age related cognitive decline. Jack's supervisors and collaborators Dr. Catherine Lawrence and Prof. David Brough were inspirational, sportive and scientifically on point. Under their supervision Jack was able to make significant contributions to the inflammation research field. Jack is now a lecturer in Medical Sciences at the University of Tasmania investigating inflammation. Jack is establishing the inflammatory properties of environmental microplastics and what cellular mechanisms are mediating microplastic-induced inflammation. And Jack aims to understand how peripheral and central inflammatory responses contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

Career summary


  • PhD in Pharmacology- Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Otago. April 2008 – April 2013. Thesis title: An investigation into the cannabinoid receptor type 2 as a therapeutic target for childhood cerebral hypoxia.
  • Diploma for Graduates in Applied Statistics -Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Massey University. January 2014 – November 2018. Dissertation title: Alzheimer’s disease progression and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
  • First Class Post Graduate Diploma (Honours Equivalent) - Department of Botany, University of Otago.  February 2007 – December 2007. Dissertation title: The interaction between oxidative stress signals during heat stress and viral infection in Phaseolus Vulgaris. Evaluating the roles of antioxidant activity, DNA damage and lipid peroxidation during stress.
  • BSc (Anatomy) - Department of Structural Anatomy, University of Otago. 2004-2006.


Teaching expertise

Jack Auty has a strong record of supervision and the development of a welcoming efficient lab environment. Jack has formally co-supervised four Master’s students and three undergraduate students to graduation all of which received the distinction and all but one are now in a Ph.D. programme. Jack is currently a primary supervisor for one Ph.D. student and a co-supervisor to one Master’s student. Jack has also informally supervised numerous undergraduate, Master’s and Ph.D. students. Jack thinks it is important to have a friendly and understanding learning environment, one in which it is understood that mistakes do happen and that the post-graduate system can be very stressful. Last year Jack was delighted to be nominated by my students for the supervisor of the year award.

View more on Dr Jack Auty in WARP

Research Themes

Research overview

My primary research goal is to understand adaptive and maladaptive signalling processes that occur during inflammatory stress and disease burden. Inflammation is a beneficial response to tissue damage or infection involving numerous systems within the body, primarily the immune, nervous and vascular systems. However, when inflammation is excessive or chronic it can damage surrounding healthy tissues, causing or contributing to pathological processes. Inflammation is orchestrated by numerous signalling molecules, of which, cytokines are the largest and most important group. Cytokines are small secreted proteins which commonly act through cell surface receptors to initiate the extraordinarily complex phenotypic changes in the numerous cells types involved in inflammation. Interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-1α are extremely potent keystone inflammatory cytokines that have been demonstrated to be central to both adaptive and maladaptive inflammatory responses. Inhibition of the IL-1 signalling cascade has been shown clinically to reduce cardiovascular pathology, cancer mortality, osteoarthritis and gout, and preclinically to be therapeutic in stroke, head trauma, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome and many other conditions. From this it is clear that improved understanding of triggers and pharmacological modulators of the IL-1 signalling cascade will have a tremendous impact on disease burden.


  • Establish the inflammatory properties of environmental microplastics and what cellular mechanisms are mediating microplastic-induced inflammation.
  • To understand how peripheral and central inflammatory responses contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Use large epidemiological datasets, preclinical animal models and RNAseq pathway analysis, to determine the most protective class of anti-inflammatory drug for reducing Alzheimer’s disease risk.
  • Ascertain the physiological importance of the unique features of pro-IL-1α.


  • Young Scientist Divisional Speaker Award. Given by the Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology to showcase excellent research for annual School of Biological Sciences event, at the University of Manchester. 2018.
  • Winner of the best overall presentation at the ANZLAA New Zealand conference. 2014.
  • Winner, as voted by the audience, of the Australasian “Three Minute Thesis Competition”. 2011.
  • Winner of the University of Otago “Three Minute Thesis Competition”. 2011.
  • Winner of the Fred Fastier Oral Presentation Prize at the ASCEPT conference. 2009.
  • Finalist at the University of Otago “Three Minute Thesis Competition”. 2009.
  • Runner up in the Fred Fastier Oral Presentation Prize at the ASCEPT conference. 2008.
  • Recipient of the University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship. 2008. Recipient of Marsden Funding for Doctoral Studies. 2008.

Current projects

How do microplastics effect human health and the health of wildlife?How does inflammation contribute to Alzheimer’s disease?Developing novel drugs or re-purposing existing drugs to fight inflammatory disease.How does the body control the inflammatory response?If you are a national or international student interested in doing an Honours, Masters or Ph.D. research project on any of these topics please send an email to for more information.

Fields of Research

  • Innate immunity (320407)
  • Neurology and neuromuscular diseases (320905)
  • Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) (310305)
  • Respiratory diseases (320103)
  • Ecological physiology (310303)
  • Systems physiology (320803)
  • Pollution and contamination (410599)
  • Cell physiology (320801)
  • Animal physiology - systems (310910)
  • Cellular immunology (320404)
  • Medical biochemistry - inorganic elements and compounds (320503)
  • Cellular interactions (incl. adhesion, matrix, cell wall) (310105)
  • Systems biology (310114)
  • Cellular nervous system (320902)
  • Environmental assessment and monitoring (410402)
  • Surgery (320226)
  • Animal immunology (310905)
  • Animal physiological ecology (310907)
  • Terrestrial ecology (310308)
  • Conservation and biodiversity (410401)
  • Allergy (320401)
  • Immunology (320499)

Research Objectives

  • Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences (280102)
  • Clinical health (200199)
  • Marine biodiversity (180504)
  • Treatment of human diseases and conditions (200105)
  • Expanding knowledge in the biomedical and clinical sciences (280103)
  • Health related to ageing (200502)
  • Prevention of human diseases and conditions (200104)
  • Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences (280111)
  • Terrestrial biodiversity (180606)


Total publications


Journal Article

(11 outputs)
2023Rivers-Auty J, Bond AL, Grant ML, Lavers JL, 'The one-two punch of plastic exposure: macro- and micro-plastics induce multi-organ damage in seabirds', Journal of Hazardous Materials, 442 Article 130117. ISSN 0304-3894 (2023) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.130117 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 5Web of Science - 2

Co-authors: Grant ML; Lavers JL


2022Angosto-Bazarra D, Alarcon-Vila C, Hurtado-Navarro L, Banos M, Rivers-Auty J, et al., 'Evolutionary analyses of the gasdermin family suggest conserved roles in infection response despite loss of pore-forming functionality', BMC biology, 20, (9) pp. 1-18. ISSN 1741-7007 (2022) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1186/s12915-021-01220-z [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 9Web of Science - 6


2021Chen Y, Rivers-Auty J, Crica LE, Barr K, Rosano V, et al., 'Dynamic interactions and intracellular fate of label-free, thin graphene oxide sheets within mammalian cells: Role of lateral sheet size', Nanoscale Advances, 3, (14) pp. 4166-4185. ISSN 2516-0230 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1039/d1na00133g [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 6


2021Lavers JL, Rivers-Auty J, Bond AL, 'Plastic debris increases circadian temperature extremes in beach sediments', Journal of Hazardous Materials, 416 Article 126140. ISSN 0304-3894 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.126140 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 17Web of Science - 14

Co-authors: Lavers JL


2021Rivers-Auty J, Tapia VS, White CS, Daniels MJD, Drinkall S, et al., 'Zinc status alters Alzheimer's disease progression through NLRP3-dependent inflammation', Journal of Neuroscience, 41, (13) pp. 3025-3038. ISSN 0270-6474 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1980-20.2020 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 13Web of Science - 12


2020Rivers-Auty J, Mather AE, Peters R, Lawrence CB, Brough D, 'Anti-inflammatories in Alzheimer's disease-potential therapy or spurious correlate?', Brain Communications, 2, (2) pp. 1-14. ISSN 2632-1297 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1093/braincomms/fcaa109 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 28Web of Science - 29


2018Hoyle C, Rivers-Auty J, Lemarchand E, Vranic S, Wang E, et al., 'Small, Thin Graphene Oxide Is Anti-inflammatory Activating Nuclear Factor Erythroid 2-Related Factor 2 via Metabolic Reprogramming', ACS nano, 12, (12) pp. 11949-11962. ISSN 1936-0851 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.8b03642 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 31Web of Science - 33


2018Rivers-Auty J, Daniels MJD, Colliver I, Roberston DL, Brough D, 'Redefining the ancestral origins of the interleukin-1 superfamily', Nature Communications, 9 pp. 1-12. ISSN 2041-1723 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03362-1 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 55Web of Science - 53


2017White CS, Lawrence CB, Brough D, Rivers-Auty J, 'Inflammasomes as therapeutic targets for Alzheimer's disease', Brain Pathology, 27, (2) pp. 223-234. ISSN 1015-6305 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/bpa.12478 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 83Web of Science - 80


2016Daniels MJD, Rivers-Auty J, Schilling T, Spencer NG, Watremez W, et al., 'Fenamate NSAIDs inhibit the NLRP3 inflammasome and protect against Alzheimer's disease in rodent models', Nature Communications, 7 Article 12504. ISSN 2041-1723 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12504 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 267Web of Science - 263


2015Rivers-Auty J, Brough D, 'Potassium efflux fires the canon: Potassium efflux as a common trigger for canonical and noncanonical NLRP3 pathways', European journal of immunology, 45, (10) pp. 2758-2761. ISSN 0014-2980 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1002/eji.201545958 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 40Web of Science - 38


Conference Publication

(1 outputs)
2020Lavers JL, Rivers-Auty J, 'Sublethal consequences of plastic exposure in seabirds', EnviSMART Conference, 28 May, online (2020) [Keynote Presentation]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Lavers JL

Grants & Funding

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Jack Auty - donations for student research projects (2022)$250
ArtSpace ($250)
Donation - Individual
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Auty J
Understanding the pathophysiological effects of microplastic exposure on vulnerable marine species (2022)$5,140
The crisis surrounding microplastic pollution has been widely acknowledged, yet, it has only recently become known that microplastics are a hazardous form of plastic to our health. To date, there have been no in-depth investigations into the physiological consequences of microplastic exposure. This means, that we may be suffering from severe and potentially toxicity of microplastics, of which we are mostly unaware. This study aims to contrast a complete picture of which biological pathways and systems are involved in the response to microplastic exposure.
Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment ($5,140)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Auty J; Zosky GR; Lavers JL; de Jersey AM
Are microplastics causing inflammation in seabirds? (2021)$1,500
This project will investigate a threat that is only recently getting the attention it warrants, plastic pollution of the marineenvironment. Several seabird species are consuming these plastics. This is causing lethal, as well as, sublethal effects like low weight and elevated cholesterol (3,4). Yet, how the plastics are causing these effects is currently unknown. This project will investigate what is happening in these birds at a physiological level with the aim of improving our understanding of the effects of plastics to allow us to establish informed strategies to mitigate their effects and develop treatments for highly impacted birds. Inflammation is the body's immune response to infection or injury. It works to help rid the body of infection, whilst also promoting tissue repair. However, when excessive or chronic (long term), it can become detrimental, as immune cells start to attack previously healthy tissues. This project will look for inflammation in seabirds which have eaten plastics and investigate anti-inflammatories as a treatment for seabirds under extreme plastics exposure.
Australian Wildlife Society ($1,500)
Grant-University Students Scheme
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Auty J; Lavers JL
Building a complete understanding of how microplastics affect the physiology of wildlife (2021 - 2022)$76,271
This projects overarching goal is to construct a complete picture of the pathological effects of microplastics exposure using wild birds as model species. To address this goal we have two objectives:1) Establish a systemic biological signature of early stage sublethal microplastic exposure using proteomics & flow cytometry2) Determine the pathological impacts and tissue responses to late stage lethal plastic exposure through transcriptomics and histology of tissues
Pure Ocean ($76,271)
Grant-Pure Ocean Endowment Fund
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Auty J; Lavers JL; Bond AL
2021 - 2022
The role of particle size in the pathogenesis of engineered stone-associated accelerated silicosis (2021 - 2022)$665,843
The emergence of engineered stone associated silicosis in Australia is an occupational health disaster. While the scale of this problem is unclear, estimates of disease prevalence suggest that 20-30% of workers in this industry have evidence of silicosis. Tragically, this disease is progressive, incurable, is often fatal and is impacting workers who have only been working in the industry for a few years. This is in stark contrast to the historical form of silicosis which develops over a 20-30 year period and has largely been eliminated in Australia. A range of factors are likely to contribute to the severity and short latency period of this new form of silicosis, including the high levels of exposure and silica content of stone. However, this does not entirely explain the disease severity and there remain unanswered questions regarding the enhanced potency of engineered stone dusts that is hampering efforts to reduce the burden of disease and improve outcomes in patients. This project has two broad aims that are targeted at the desired outcomes of this grant opportunity:1)To understand the particle characteristics of dusts generated by processing engineered stone including the particle size distribution and particle chemistry2)To examine the link between particle characteristics and the lung response
Medical Research Future Fund ($665,843)
Grant - 2020 Silicosis Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Zosky GR; Gaskin S; Song Y; Pisaniello D; Auty J
2021 - 2022

Research Supervision




PhDMicroplastics and health: Understanding the Pathological effects of Microplastic2022
PhDSurgical and Anaesthetic Comorbidity in Animal Models of Stroke: A veil over effective drug development2022