Skip to main content

2023 Allen Distinguished Investigator award

The Allen Distinguished Investigator program provides three-year grants between $1M and $1.5M to individuals and teams

Understanding the effects of Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy (GAHT) on immune function using a systems immunology approach

There are well known differences between how male and female immune systems function. For example, females show lower COVID-19 mortality and lower rates of cardiovascular disease than males, but have higher rates of auto-immune disease. It is also known that sex hormones can influence immune function, but how they do this in the context of infection and inflammatory disease is unclear. In this project, researchers will investigate how sex hormones (estradiol and testosterone) change the immunity of transgender individuals undergoing gender affirming hormone therapy. This longitudinal approach will allow researchers to study the action of sex hormones beyond the population level, and to dive deeper into how circulating sex hormones affect individual immune responses. Insights from this study could be used to improve health outcomes for transgender individuals and provide greater understanding into the action of sex hormones on immunity more generally.

Boris Novakavic headshot

Boris Novakovic

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Ada Cheung headshot

Ada Cheung, Ph.D.,

University of Melbourne
Rachel Davey headshot

Rachel Davey, Ph.D.

Department of Medicine, Austin Health, University of Melbourne
Musa Mhlanga headshot

Musa M. Mhlanga, Ph.D.,

Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences

This project is part of the 2023 Sex Hormones cohort

Researchers in this cohort are uncovering the cellular and molecular actions of sex hormones outside of reproduction and reproduction-related development. Their work addresses a key need to deepen our understanding of how sex hormones affect many of biological processes. These new discoveries have the potential to impact human health, including diagnostics and treatment.

Science Programs at Allen Institute