Kirsten Fairfax

UTAS Home Dr Kirsten Fairfax

Kirsten Fairfax

Alex Gadomski Fellow

Room 436d , MS2

I am the Alex Gadomski Fellow. I lead a small team working on the immunology and genetics underpinning Bone Marrow Failure and haematopoiesis at The Menzies Institute for Medical Research. I also teach into second and third year molecular biology and biochemistry subjects in the College of Health and Medicine. My research work focusses on using molecular biology techniques such as single-cell RNA sequencing and CRISPR to understand more about the development of blood cells, and to generate new potential therapeutics.


I have always been interested in the mechanisms that underpin the way that cells are generated to make up the blood, and how the body makes sure we have the right number of cells to carry oxygen, fight infection and clot the blood where there is an injury. I have studied this topic in some amazing places to research, in Melbourne at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, where my PhD was focused on the generation and specification of antibody secreting cells. From WEHI I moved to Cambridge (UK) to work at the Babraham Institute of Medical Research, where my postdoctoral studies investigated the role of RNA-binding proteins in B cell development. I returned to Australia to work at Monash University, and WEHI, continuing my work on the generation and specification of blood cells. I am delighted to be back home to Tasmania (I grew up in Launceston) working on understanding Bone Marrow Failure Syndrome and haematopoiesis and trying to find new therapies and markers for bone marrow failure.

Career summary



Thesis Title



Date of Award


The quantitative differentiation of antibody secreting cells

University of Melbourne



BSc Hons

University of Melbourne




University of Melbourne




Teaching expertise

I have taught and tutored students since 2001. My most recent teaching has involved teaching to second and third year students at UTAS, and developing a subject for an online-only course, a Master of Cancer Sciences, run by the University of Melbourne in conjunction with the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC).

Teaching responsibility

Molecular Biology in Health & Disease CBA265

View more on Dr Kirsten Fairfax in WARP


I use a range of techniques to investigate Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes and haematopoiesis, including molecular biology techniques such as CRISPR and gene editing, and immunology techniques such as FACs analysis, cell culture and cell labelling techniques such as Ann-V staining and immunohistochemistry.


  • Page Betheras Award, WEHI, 2017
  • Travel Award, International Eosinophil Symposium, 2017
  • Craven and Shearer Award, WEHI, 2015
  • Departmental Support Award, Monash, 2013
  • CJ Martin Fellowship, NHMRC, 2008
  • Dora Lush Scholarship, NHMRC, 2001

Current projects

  • Using large-scale single cell RNAseq to dissect the genetic architecture of haematopoiesis and investigate implications for Bone Marrow Failure Syndrome and other complex diseases.
  • Understanding genetic diversity within haematopoiesis

Fields of Research

  • Cell development, proliferation and death (310102)
  • Genetic immunology (310507)
  • Bioinformatic methods development (310201)
  • Medical molecular engineering of nucleic acids and proteins (320603)
  • Cancer genetics (321103)
  • Gene expression (incl. microarray and other genome-wide approaches) (310505)
  • Haematological tumours (321106)
  • Biochemistry and cell biology (310199)
  • Cellular immunology (320404)
  • Gene and molecular therapy (320601)
  • Genomics (310509)
  • Immunogenetics (incl. genetic immunology) (320406)
  • Health services and systems (420399)
  • Implementation science and evaluation (420312)
  • Virology (310706)
  • Epigenetics (incl. genome methylation and epigenomics) (310504)
  • Haematology (320102)
  • Autoimmunity (320403)
  • Medical and health law (480412)

Research Objectives

  • Clinical health (200199)
  • Diagnosis of human diseases and conditions (200101)
  • Expanding knowledge in the biomedical and clinical sciences (280103)
  • Citizenship and national identity (230105)
  • Treatment of human diseases and conditions (200105)
  • Other health (209999)
  • Prevention of human diseases and conditions (200104)
  • Law reform (230405)


I have authored over 30 papers in journals such as Cancer Cell, Nature Immunology, Immunity and Science Signalling. My papers have been highly cited , with more than 2500 citations collectively.

Total publications


Journal Article

(21 outputs)
2023Nelson N, Feurstein S, Niaz A, Truong J, Holien JK, et al., 'Functional genomics for curation of variants in telomere biology disorder associated genes: A systematic review', Genetics in Medicine, 25, (3) Article 100354. ISSN 1098-3600 (2023) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.gim.2022.11.021 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Lucas S; Dickinson J


2023Nelson N, Feurstein S, Niaz N, Truong J, Holien JK, et al., 'Functional genomics for curation of variants in telomere biology disorder associated genes: A systematic review', Genetics in Medicine, 25, (3) pp. 1-18. ISSN 1098-3600 (2023) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.gim.2022.11.021 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Lucas S; Dickinson J


2022Quah PS, Sutton V, Whitlock E, Figgett WA, Andrews DM, et al., 'The effects of B-cell-activating factor on the population size, maturation and function of murine natural killer cells', Immunology and Cell Biology, 100, (10) pp. 761-776. ISSN 0818-9641 (2022) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/imcb.12585 [eCite] [Details]


2022Yazar S, Alquicira-Hernandez J, Wing K, Senabouth A, Gordon MG, et al., 'Single cell eQTL mapping identifies cell type specific genetic control of autoimmune disease', Science, 376, (154) pp. 1-14. ISSN 0036-8075 (2022) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1126/science.abf3041 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 32Web of Science - 32

Co-authors: Wing K; Cook AL; Hewitt AW


2021Gangoda L, Schenk RL, Best SA, Nedeva C, Louis C, et al., 'Absence of pro-survival A1 has no impact on inflammatory cell survival in vivo during acute lung inflammation and peritonitis', Cell Death and Differentiation ISSN 1350-9047 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1038/s41418-021-00839-3 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 2Web of Science - 2


2020Amann-Zalcenstein D, Tian L, Schreuder J, Tomei S, Lin DS, et al., 'A new lymphoid-primed progenitor marked by Dach1 downregulation identified with single cell multi-omics', Nature Immunology, 21, (12) pp. 1574-1584. ISSN 1529-2908 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1038/s41590-020-0799-x [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 7Web of Science - 7


2019Choi J, Baldwin TM, Wong M, Bolden JE, Fairfax KA, et al., 'Haemopedia RNA-seq: a database of gene expression during haematopoiesis in mice and humans', Nucleic Acids Research, 47, (D1) pp. D780-D785. ISSN 0305-1048 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1093/nar/gky1020 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 68Web of Science - 65


2019Lundie RJ, Helbig KJ, Pearson JS, Fairfax KA, 'Fluorescent antibiotics, vomocytosis, vaccine candidates and the inflammasome', Clinical & Translational Immunology, 8, (11) Article e01083. ISSN 2050-0068 (2019) [Contribution to Refereed Journal]

DOI: 10.1002/cti2.1083 [eCite] [Details]


2018Bolden JE, Lucas EC, Zhou G, O'Sullivan JA, de Graaf CA, et al., 'Identification of a Siglec-F+ granulocyte-macrophage progenitor', Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 104, (1) pp. 123-133. ISSN 0741-5400 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1002/JLB.1MA1217-475R [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 5Web of Science - 5


2018Fairfax KA, Bolden JE, Robinson AJ, Lucas EC, Baldwin TM, et al., 'Transcriptional profiling of eosinophil subsets in interleukin-5 transgenic mice', Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 104, (1) pp. 195-204. ISSN 0741-5400 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1002/JLB.6MA1117-451R [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 6Web of Science - 7


2016Ghisi M, Kats L, Masson F, Li J, Kratina T, et al., 'Id2 and E proteins orchestrate the initiation and maintenance of MLL-rearranged acute myeloid leukemia', Cancer Cell, 30, (1) pp. 59-74. ISSN 1535-6108 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.ccell.2016.05.019 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 23Web of Science - 22


2016Liu J, Blake SJ, Harjunpaa H, Fairfax KA, Yong MC, et al., 'Assessing immune-related adverse events of efficacious combination immunotherapies in preclinical models of cancer', Cancer Research, 76, (18) pp. 5288-5301. ISSN 0008-5472 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-0194 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 63Web of Science - 63


2016de Graaf CA, Choi J, Baldwin TM, Bolden JE, Fairfax KA, et al., 'Haemopedia: an expression atlas of murine hematopoietic cells', Stem Cell Reports, 7, (3) pp. 571-582. ISSN 2213-6711 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2016.07.007 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 66Web of Science - 59


2016de Valle E, Grigoriadis G, O'Reilly LA, Willis SN, Maxwell MJ, et al., 'NFκB1 is essential to prevent the development of multiorgan autoimmunity by limiting IL-6 production in follicular B cells', The Journal of Experimental Medicine, 213, (4) pp. 621-641. ISSN 0022-1007 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1084/jem.20151182 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 26Web of Science - 27


2015Diaz-Munoz MD, Bell SE, Fairfax F, Monzon-Casanova E, Cunningham AF, et al., 'The RNA-binding protein HuR (Elavl1) is essential for the B cell antibody response', Nature Immunology, 16, (4) pp. 415-425. ISSN 1529-2908 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1038/ni.3115 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 98Web of Science - 93


2015Fairfax KA, Gantier MP, Mackay F, Williams BRG, McCoy CE, 'IL-10 regulates Aicda expression through miR-155', Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 97, (1) pp. 71-78. ISSN 0741-5400 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1189/jlb.2A0314-178R [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 18Web of Science - 17


2015Fairfax KA, Tsantikos E, Figgett WA, Vincent FB, Quah PS, et al., 'BAFF-driven autoimmunity requires CD19 expression', Journal of Autoimmunity, 62 pp. 1-10. ISSN 0896-8411 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jaut.2015.06.001 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 22Web of Science - 23


2015Figgett WA, Deliyanti D, Fairfax KA, Quah PS, Wilkinson-Berka JL, et al., 'Deleting the BAFF receptor TACI protects against systemic lupus erythematosus without extensive reduction of B cell numbers', Journal of Autoimmunity, 61 pp. 9-16. ISSN 0896-8411 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jaut.2015.04.007 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 37Web of Science - 39


2014Chung JY, Figgett W, Fairfax KA, Bernard C, Chan J, et al., 'Gene therapy delivery of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) via hematopoietic stem cell transfer induces MOG-specific B cell deletion', Journal of Immunology, 192, (6) pp. 2593-2601. ISSN 0022-1767 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1203563 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 5Web of Science - 5


2014Infantino S, Jones SA, Walker JA, Maxwell MJ, Light A, et al., 'The tyrosine kinase Lyn limits the cytokine responsiveness of plasma cells to restrict their accumulation in mice', Science Signaling, 7, (338) Article ra77. ISSN 1945-0877 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005105 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 13Web of Science - 13


2014Xu Y, Fairfax K, Light A, Huntington ND, Tarlinton DM, 'CD19 differentially regulates BCR signalling through the recruitment of PI3K', Autoimmunity, 47, (7) pp. 430-437. ISSN 0891-6934 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.3109/08916934.2014.921810 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 11Web of Science - 11


Grants & Funding

I have had significant funding from Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision, which funds the Alex Gadomski Fellowship, and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Number of Grants and Fellowships:

  • Alex Gadomski Fellowship (MRV)2021  $230,929
  • Bone marrow failure syndromes (MRV) 2020-2023  $49,161
  • Alex Gadomski Fellowship (MRV) 2019  $150,000
  • CJ Martin Fellowship (NHMRC)    $350,000
  • Dora Lush Fellowship (NHMRC)    $25,000

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Examining the how and why of blood cell gene regulation at loci relevant to autoimmune disease (2023 - 2025)$854,575
Genome-wide association studies have identified a vast number of variants that are associated with many complex, heterogeneous diseases, yet how these individual genetic variants contribute to disease development has been difficult to ascertain, limiting their usefulness for clinicians. Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) mapping has proved a powerful tool in identifying the genetic influences on gene expression. However, such novel insights typically lack functional validation, something which until now has been difficult to achieve, particularly at scale.We have recently conducted the largest single cell eQTL mapping study to date, whereby we interrogated over 1.2 million immune cells from 982 individuals. This work uncovered and mapped a vast number of cell and context-specific eQTL effects. We assessed how these eQTL interacted with known loci identified in GWAS of 7 common autoimmune diseases, to propose the causal mechanism behind the involvement of 305 autoimmune risk loci. In our proposed study, we will build on the data we have generated, exploring how these genetic variants drive differences in nucleosome occupancy and methylation by using NOMe-seq (Aim 1), functionally validate gene expression changes driven by these variants at scale using CRISPR-base editing (Aim 2), and further our eQTL studies by performing an eQTL analysis on bone marrow stem cells (Aim 3). The proposed work will enable us to leverage our world-class datasets generated in our single cell mapping study.Our team is perfectly positioned to functionally validate how genetic variants impact gene regulation in blood cells at loci that are relevant to autoimmune disease, and to further our work to stem cells. We are world-experts in performing single-cell RNA sequencing eQTL studies and have considerable experience in CRISPR base-editing and NOME-seq experiments. This work represents an exciting opportunity to apply cutting edge tools to build on our world-class dataset.
National Health & Medical Research Council ($854,575)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Fairfax KA; Signal BS; Dow L
2023 - 2025
Grant Reference
Advancing Precision Medicine for Families with Haematological Malignancy (2022)$22,942
The aim of this project is to recruit Tasmanian families that have three or more close relatives with blood cancer or a related disorder. Whole genome sequencing will be performed with the aim of identifying genes underpinning the development of blood cancers. This project builds on the existing Familial Haematological Malignancy Project.
Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation ($22,942)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Dickinson JL; Nelson N; Lucas SE; Fairfax KA; Harrup R
Uncovering genetic and epigenetic drivers of gene expression changes in blood cells (2021 - 2022)$270,427
Determining genetic and epigenetic drivers of gene expression changes in blood cells
Maddie Riewoldt's Vision ($270,427)
Bridging Fellowship
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Fairfax KA
2021 - 2022
Functional interrogation of loci associated with the regulation of haematopoiesis (2019 - 2020)$149,512
New therapies and markers for bone marrow failure will be identified by answering fundamental questions such as What genes determine the proportion of specific cell types in the blood? and What are the underlying genetic drivers for gene expression in different blood cells? This work will harness the power of genome-wide association analysis, where all common genetic variants are compared between people, and single cell RNA-seq, a disruptive and ground-breaking technology that enables the direct quantification of gene expression in individual cells. This research will build upon work underway, which aims to identify cell and context-specific mutations that vary in their functional effect on blood cell phenotypes. We are currently aiming to catalogue, at scale, the genetic drivers of specific sub-populations of blood cells. Using seed MRV funding we are collecting and processing bone marrow aspirate samples from healthy people in Tasmania. To expand this work, the Maddie's Vision / Alex Gadomski Fellow will undertake functional experiments to molecularly characterize the identified loci.
Maddie Riewoldt's Vision ($149,512)
Fellowship - Alex Gadomski
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Fairfax KA; Hewitt A
2019 - 2020

Research Supervision

I currently supervise 3 doctoral candidates, and we are always looking to recruit top students. Please contact me if you are interested.




PhDUnderstanding Genetic Diversity within Haematopoiesis2020
PhDIdentifying Genetic Variants Causal in Telomeropathy Associated Cancer2021
PhDDevelopment and Validation of a Novel Gene Editing Therapy for CLN2 - Related Disease2021
PhDSingle-cell Immunophenotypic Analysis of Peripheral Blood Cells and Metastatic Tumour Cells2021
PhDEvolving Novel Therapies for Glaucoma2022