Dr Deborah Burnett

Dr Deborah Burnett

Conjoint Senior Lecturer


2015-2019 Doctor of Philosophy (Immunology); Garvan Institute, Awarded Garvan Best Thesis Award.

2012 Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Honours Class I) with High Distinction (92%); University of Sydney.

2010 Bachelor of Science (Honours Class I), with High Distinction (90%); University of Sydney and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Awarded the H.R. Carne Medal

Medicine & Health
School of Clinical Medicine

Deborah’s background in veterinary medicine kindled her interest in immunology. She undertook her honours at WEHI investigating the genetic pathways which regulate blood clotting. In 2019, she completed a PhD at the Garvan Institute researching the role of antibodies in protective immune responses and autoimmunity. Deborah’s PhD made profound discoveries which redefined the role of antibodies in health and disease and led to first author publications in prestigious journals including Science, Cell and PNAS. The significance of her discoveries were acknowledged in her receipt of the “Garvan Best PhD Thesis”, the “UNSW Dean’s Award” and the “UNSW Faculty of Medicine Award” for Outstanding Contribution to Research.

With the emergence of the COVID19 pandemic Deborah pivoted her expertise to explore vaccination strategies to induce antibodies resistant to viral escape. This resulted in discoveries published in Immunity, Nature Microbiology, EJI, mAbs and Cell Reports Medicine. This work led Deborah to receive a highly commended Discovery Award from Research Australia in 2022.

Deborah currently co-leads collaborative initiatives that span research institutions and hospitals, her focus is on enhancing vaccine efficacy against challenging infectious threats including those linked to autoimmune diseases.

In 2023 Deborah was awarded one of 4 Australian "Loreal-UNESCO For Women in Science" Fellows, and 2023 the Premier's Prize for Early Career Researcher of the Year (Biological Sciences).


(02) 9295 8100
  • Journal articles | 2023
    Barnet M; Masle-Farquhar E; Singh M; Burnett DL, 2023, 'Blood and guts: peripheral immune correlates of immunotherapy-induced colitis', Immunology and Cell Biology, 101, pp. 12 - 15, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/imcb.12604
    Journal articles | 2023
    Burnett DL; Barnet MB; Moxon A; Tsang V; Samaras K, 2023, 'Editorial: Decoding checkpoint inhibitor-induced immune-related adverse events, volume II', Frontiers in Endocrinology, 14, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2023.1317220
    Journal articles | 2023
    Burnett DL; Bull RA, 2023, 'Total recall? Understanding the effect of antigenic distance on original antigenic sin', Immunology and Cell Biology, 101, pp. 377 - 380, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/imcb.12638
    Journal articles | 2023
    Rouet R; Henry JY; Johansen MD; Sobti M; Balachandran H; Langley DB; Walker GJ; Lenthall H; Jackson J; Ubiparipovic S; Mazigi O; Schofield P; Burnett DL; Brown SHJ; Martinello M; Hudson B; Gilroy N; Post JJ; Kelleher A; Jäck HM; Goodnow CC; Turville SG; Rawlinson WD; Bull RA; Stewart AG; Hansbro PM; Christ D, 2023, 'Broadly neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 antibodies through epitope-based selection from convalescent patients', Nature Communications, 14, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-36295-5
    Journal articles | 2022
    Aggarwal A; Stella AO; Walker G; Akerman A; Esneau C; Milogiannakis V; Burnett DL; McAllery S; Silva MR; Lu Y; Foster CSP; Brilot F; Pillay A; Van Hal S; Mathivanan V; Fichter C; Kindinger A; Hoppe AC; Munier ML; Amatayakul-Chantler S; Roth N; Coppola G; Symonds GP; Schofield P; Jackson J; Lenthall H; Henry JY; Mazigi O; Jäck HM; Davenport MP; Darley DR; Matthews GV; Khoury DS; Cromer D; Goodnow CC; Christ D; Robosa R; Starck DJ; Bartlett NW; Rawlinson WD; Kelleher AD; Turville SG, 2022, 'Platform for isolation and characterization of SARS-CoV-2 variants enables rapid characterization of Omicron in Australia', Nature Microbiology, 7, pp. 896 - 908, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41564-022-01135-7
    Journal articles | 2022
    Burnett DL; Barnet MB; Samaras K, 2022, 'Editorial: Decoding checkpoint inhibitor-induced endocrinopathies', Frontiers in Endocrinology, 13, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2022.987648
    Journal articles | 2022
    Chye A; Allen I; Barnet M; Burnett DL, 2022, 'Insights Into the Host Contribution of Endocrine Associated Immune-Related Adverse Events to Immune Checkpoint Inhibition Therapy', Frontiers in Oncology, 12, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2022.894015
    Journal articles | 2022
    Schulz SR; Hoffmann M; Roth E; Pracht K; Burnett DL; Mazigi O; Schuh W; Manger B; Mielenz D; Goodnow CC; Christ D; Pöhlmann S; Jäck HM, 2022, 'Augmented neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant by boost vaccination and monoclonal antibodies', European Journal of Immunology, 52, pp. 970 - 977, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eji.202249841
    Journal articles | 2022
    Tangye SG; Burnett DL; Bull RA, 2022, 'Getting to the (germinal) center of humoral immune responses to SARS-CoV-2', Cell, 185, pp. 945 - 948, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2022.02.018
    Journal articles | 2022
    Young C; Lau AWY; Burnett DL, 2022, 'B cells in the balance: Offsetting self-reactivity avoidance with protection against foreign', Frontiers in Immunology, 13, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2022.951385
    Journal articles | 2021
    Abayasingam A; Balachandran H; Agapiou D; Hammoud M; Rodrigo C; Keoshkerian E; Li H; Brasher NA; Christ D; Rouet R; Burnet D; Grubor-Bauk B; Rawlinson W; Turville S; Aggarwal A; Stella AO; Fichter C; Brilot F; Mina M; Post JJ; Hudson B; Gilroy N; Dwyer D; Sasson SC; Tea F; Pilli D; Kelleher A; Tedla N; Lloyd AR; Martinello M; Bull RA; Burnett D, 2021, 'Long-term persistence of RBD+ memory B cells encoding neutralizing antibodies in SARS-CoV-2 infection', Cell Reports Medicine, 2, pp. 100228, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2021.100228
    Journal articles | 2021
    Burnett DL; Jackson KJL; Langley DB; Aggrawal A; Stella AO; Johansen MD; Balachandran H; Lenthall H; Rouet R; Walker G; Saunders BM; Singh M; Li H; Henry JY; Jackson J; Stewart AG; Witthauer F; Spence MA; Hansbro NG; Jackson C; Schofield P; Milthorpe C; Martinello M; Schulz SR; Roth E; Kelleher A; Emery S; Britton WJ; Rawlinson WD; Karl R; Schäfer S; Winkler TH; Brink R; Bull RA; Hansbro PM; Jäck HM; Turville S; Christ D; Goodnow CC, 2021, 'Immunizations with diverse sarbecovirus receptor-binding domains elicit SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies against a conserved site of vulnerability', Immunity, 54, pp. 2908 - 2921.e6, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2021.10.019
    Journal articles | 2021
    Rouet R; Mazigi O; Walker GJ; Langley DB; Sobti M; Schofield P; Lenthall H; Jackson J; Ubiparipovic S; Henry JY; Abayasingam A; Burnett D; Kelleher A; Brink R; Bull RA; Turville S; Stewart AG; Goodnow CC; Rawlinson WD; Christ D, 2021, 'Potent SARS-CoV-2 binding and neutralization through maturation of iconic SARS-CoV-1 antibodies', mAbs, 13, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19420862.2021.1922134
    Journal articles | 2020
    Burnett DL; Bertzbach LD, 2020, 'The importance of veterinary specialized generalists in biomedical research', Research in Veterinary Science, 129, pp. 185 - 186, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rvsc.2020.02.003
    Journal articles | 2020
    Burnett DL; Schofield P; Langley DB; Jackson J; Bourne K; Wilson E; Porebski BT; Buckle AM; Brink R; Goodnow CC; Christ D, 2020, 'Conformational diversity facilitates antibody mutation trajectories and discrimination between foreign and self-antigens', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117, pp. 22341 - 22350, http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2005102117
    Journal articles | 2020
    Rouet R; Mazigi O; Walker G; Langley D; Sobti M; Schofield P; Lenthall H; Jackson J; Ubiparipovic S; Henry J; Abayasingam A; Burnett D; Kelleher A; Brink R; Bull R; Turville S; Stewart A; Goodnow C; Rawlinson W; Christ D, 2020, 'Potent SARS-CoV-2 binding and neutralization through maturation of iconic SARS-CoV-1 antibodies', , http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.12.14.422791
    Journal articles | 2020
    Singh M; Jackson KJL; Wang JJ; Schofield P; Field MA; Koppstein D; Peters TJ; Burnett DL; Rizzetto S; Nevoltris D; Masle-Farquhar E; Faulks ML; Russell A; Gokal D; Hanioka A; Horikawa K; Colella AD; Chataway TK; Blackburn J; Mercer TR; Langley DB; Goodall DM; Jefferis R; Gangadharan Komala M; Kelleher AD; Suan D; Rischmueller M; Christ D; Brink R; Luciani F; Gordon TP; Goodnow CC; Reed JH, 2020, 'Lymphoma Driver Mutations in the Pathogenic Evolution of an Iconic Human Autoantibody', Cell, 180, pp. 878 - 894.e19, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.01.029
    Journal articles | 2020
    Stokol T; Yeo WM; Burnett D; DeAngelis N; Huang T; Osterrieder N; Catalfamo J, 2020, 'Erratum: Equid herpesvirus type 1 activates platelets (PLoS ONE (2015) 10: 4 (e0122640) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122640)', PLoS ONE, 15, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0237679
    Journal articles | 2019
    Burnett DL; Reed JH; Christ D; Goodnow CC, 2019, 'Clonal redemption and clonal anergy as mechanisms to balance B cell tolerance and immunity', Immunological Reviews, 292, pp. 61 - 75, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/imr.12808
    Journal articles | 2018
    Burnett DL; Langley DB; Schofield P; Hermes JR; Chan TD; Jackson J; Bourne K; Reed JH; Patterson K; Porebski BT; Brink R; Christ D; Goodnow CC, 2018, 'Germinal center antibody mutation trajectories are determined by rapid self/foreign discrimination', Science, 360, pp. 223 - 226, http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aao3859
    Journal articles | 2017
    Burnett DL; Parish IA; Masle-Farquhar E; Brink R; Goodnow CC, 2017, 'Murine LRBA deficiency causes CTLA-4 deficiency in Tregs without progression to immune dysregulation', Immunology and Cell Biology, 95, pp. 775 - 788, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/icb.2017.50
    Journal articles | 2017
    Langley DB; Crossett B; Schofield P; Jackson J; Zeraati M; Maltby D; Christie M; Burnett D; Brink R; Goodnow C; Christ D, 2017, 'Structural basis of antigen recognition: Crystal structure of duck egg lysozyme', Acta Crystallographica Section D: Structural Biology, 73, pp. 910 - 920, http://dx.doi.org/10.1107/s2059798317013730
    Journal articles | 2016
    Burnett DL; Cave NJ; Gedye KR; Bridges JP, 2016, 'Investigation of cell-free DNA in canine plasma and its relation to disease', Veterinary Quarterly, 36, pp. 122 - 129, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01652176.2016.1182230
    Journal articles | 2015
    Stokol T; Yeo WM; Burnett D; DeAngelis N; Huang T; Osterrieder N; Catalfamo J, 2015, 'Equid herpesvirus type 1 activates platelets', PLoS ONE, 10, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0122640
    Journal articles | 2014
    Josefsson EC; Burnett DL; Lebois M; Debrincat MA; White MJ; Henley KJ; Lane RM; Moujalled D; Preston SP; O'Reilly LA; Pellegrini M; Metcalf D; Strasser A; Kile BT, 2014, 'Platelet production proceeds independently of the intrinsic and extrinsic apoptosis pathways', Nature Communications, 5, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms4455
    Journal articles | 2010
    Burnett DL; Burnett L, 2010, 'A rare granulomatous reaction to Q fever vaccination following influenza vaccination.', The Medical Journal of Australia, 193, pp. 60 - 60

Her work is currently supported by several prestigious research grants including an NHMRC Investigator and Ideas Grant, an NSW OHMR RNA future Leaders Fellowship and a Perpetual Impact Grant. 


2023 NSW Premiers Award for Early Career Biological Researcher of the Year

2023 L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Fellowship

2022 Highly Commended, Griffith University Discovery Award at the Annual Health and Medical Research Awards by Research Australia

2022 Publication of the Quarter, St Vincent’s Clinical School, UNSW Medicine

2019 Outstanding Contribution to Research by a Higher Degree Student, UNSW Medicine Education and Research Awards

2019 Dean’s Award for Outstanding PhD Theses, UNSW Graduate Research School

2019 Garvan Best PhD Thesis Award

2015 - 2018 Research Excellence Award, University of NSW

2015 - 2018 Australian Postgraduate Award, University of NSW

2018 Publication of the Year Award, Immunology and Cell Biology Journal

2018 New Investigator Finalist, Australian Society of Immunology

Deborah's research focuses on how the immune system, and in particular B cells respond to immune threats. This includes pathogens believed to mimic our own tissues, hampering vaccine development efforts. Deborah's research involves establishing and validating sophisticated next-generation pre-clinical models to explore responses to these antigens, with the aim of developing improved vaccines against these threats and understanding why a proportion of people develop autoimmune disease following these infections.