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Alison Hey-Cunningham +61 2 9515 6651    


Centre of Research Excellence in Pulmonary Fibrosis
Respiratory Medicine and Sleep Unit
Level 11, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Camperdown NSW 2050



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Our People



Dr Kaj Blokland - Postdoctoral Fellow

Kaj received his Master of Science in Regenerative Medicine & Technology at the University of Utrecht and Technical University Eindhoven, Netherlands. The focus of his Masters degree was on reinforcing biomaterials to regenerate articular cartilage and the prevention of epigenetic silencing of γ-retroviral vectors in stem cells. In November 2016, Kaj started his Dual Degree PhD in the laboratory of Prof Darryl Knight at the University of Newcastle where his focus was on epithelial-fibroblast cross-talk in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) to gain a deeper understanding of IPF pathology. After 2 years, in February 2019 Kaj commenced the final two years of his PhD in the laboratory of Dr Janette Burgess at the University Medical Centre Groningen. He was awarded his PhD in 2021. Kaj is now doing a postdoc at the Woolcock Institute.


Dr Britt Clynick - Postdoctoral Fellow and Medical Student

Dr Clynick completed a Bachelor of Science with first class Honours in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Western Australia, where she continued on in the department to complete her PhD in 2018 in the field of Cancer Genomics. Subsequently, she worked for the Institute of Respiratory Health at the Harry Perkins Research Institute in Perth, with a main research focus on interstitial lung disease, particularly in the molecular processes underlying idiopathic lung fibrosis. Britt is now doing a postgraduate medical degree at UWA.

Dr Mathew Eapen - Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Mathew Suji Eapen is a Senior Scientist (Respiratory) at Mucpharm Pty Ltd, Sydney and a research associate for the Respiratory Translational Research Group at the University of Tasmania, Launceston. He conducts discovery and basic research in lung diseases, including COPD, IPF, LAM, lung cancer, vaping effects, and COVID-19. Dr Eapen was awarded his PhD in Medical studies in 2018 from the University of Tasmania. He investigated the fundamental role of cellular changes in COPD and their effect on airway fibrosis. 

Before his academic endeavours, Dr Eapen worked for ten years as a Senior Research Scientist in the pharmaceutical drug discovery industry. As an experimental pharmacologist, he worked on several projects on diseases such as breast cancer, COPD, IPF, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis, among others.

Dr Jun Fukihara - Clinician and PhD Student

Dr Jun Fukihara studied at the University of Adelaide as a PhD student in 2019-2021. He completed a Bachelor of Medicine at Nagoya University (Aichi, Japan) in 2009 and has worked as a respiratory physician for 10 years in Japanese hospitals. He started doctoral studies at Nagoya University in 2017 and came to Australia in January 2019 through the Joint-Degree Program between Nagoya University and the University of Adelaide.

He has a special interest in interstitial lung diseases. In addition to some clinical studies regarding ILDs (including diagnosis and acute exacerbation of IPF, characteristics of drug induced lung disease and secondary PH) carried out in Japan; his research while in Australia was focusing on the effect of gene-modified cell therapy in pulmonary fibrosis. 

Dr Jade Jaffar - Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Jaffar established the Alfred Lung Fibrosis Biobank (ALF Bank), which functioned as a biorepository of clinical lung samples from patients with pulmonary fibrosis and donor lungs which are not suitable for use in transplantation, in collaboration with Prof Glen Westall. Dr Jaffar ran the experimental laboratory arm of Prof Westall's research platform, which involves pre-clinical drug development with a variety of academic and industry partners. 

Dr Jaffar's career and research interests include: Interstitial lung disease; the extracellular matrix; pulmonary fibrosis and therapy/biomarker development.

Dr Helen Jo - Clinician

2018 and 2016 recipient of the Lung Foundation Australia/Ivan Cash Grant in Aid for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) Research.

Dr Jo is a respiratory and sleep physician, currently working at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Dr Jo's research interest is in interstitial lung disease and pulmonary hypertension. She completed her PhD in “Novel markers of disease progression in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis” through the University of Sydney in early 2019.

Dr Jo graduated from the University of New South Wales and trained at Royal North Shore, Concord and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

She has an interest in teaching and is a clinical lecturer for the University of Sydney. She was also the Unit of Study co-ordinator for Respiratory Medicine for the Master of Medicine program.

A/Prof Yet Khor - Clinician and Postdoctoral Fellow

A/Prof Khor is a graduate of the University of Tasmania, who attained her Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2014. After completing her NHRMC-funded PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2019, she undertook a fellowship at the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation (University of British Columbia, Canada), supported by an Australian Endeavour Scholarship. 

Currently, she is an NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow at Monash University, a physician at the  Austin and Alfred Health Interstitial Lung Disease Services, and the Oxygen Service Lead at Austin Health. Her main research interests include risk prediction and disease burden management in interstitial lung disease. 

Dr Joanna Lee

Joanna has experience in various areas of research including mental health, aged care, ophthalmology, diabetes and respiratory diseases. She is now a Registries Project Officer at TSANZ.

Joanna completed her PhD at Monash University (Department of Respiratory Research@Alfred) under the supervision of Prof. Anne Holland and Dr. Gabriella Tikellis. The aims of her project were to better understand self-management in pulmonary fibrosis and to develop a self-management package. During her PhD Joanna was a member of the Centre of Research Excellence in Pulmonary Fibrosis - Translation, Education and Support Committee, where she contributed to the development of public patient resources. Joanna's PhD project was supported by the Lung Foundation Australia/CREATE Hope PhD scholarship in pulmonary fibrosis and a co-funded scholarship from Monash University.


Dr Atsuhito Nakazawa - Clinician and PhD student

Atsuhito Nakazawa is a respiratory physician from Japan who undertook a Masters at the Department of Physiotherapy, La Trobe University, Melbourne. Dr Nakazawa previously worked as a physician at a hospital specializing in respiratory medicine in Yokohama, Japan, particularly in the treatment, management and rehabilitation of patients with ILD. Dr. Nakazawa undertook research on pulmonary rehabilitation in ILD under the supervision of Professor Anne Holland.

Dr Louise Organ - Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Louise Organ obtained her PhD in A/Prof Ken Snibson’s lab at the University of Melbourne in 2016, where she developed a large animal for pulmonary fibrosis using sheep, to address the need for more representative animal models in IPF. In 2017, she moved to the UK, where she joined Prof Gisli Jenkin’s research team at the University of Nottingham and was awarded an ERS RESPIRE fellowship, where her research was focused on the mechanism of TGF-beta activation in IPF, specifically within epithelial cells. This research involved multiple industry collaborations to also explore potential novel therapeutics, including with GSK and Biogen.

Dr Organ returned to Australia in 2020 and worked with A/Prof Jane Bourke at Monash, to continue investigating study disease mechanisms in pulmonary fibrosis and silicosis and test novel therapeutic interventions using precision cut lung slices before transitioning to a role in industry. 


Dr Jyotika Prasad - Clinician and Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Jyotika Prasad is a Respiratory and Sleep physician at the Alfred and Royal Melbourne hospital who has now completed her doctoral studies through Monash University. Dr Prasad's research interests include physiology of disease progression in IPF and LAM as well as understanding and improving diagnostic processes for patients with interstitial lung disease.

Dr Dino Tan - Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Dino Tan is a post-doctoral researcher within the Centre for Respiratory Health, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Western Australia, based at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. He manages the Cell Biology Group in the Institute for Respiratory Health with Prof Yuben Moodley and has an appointment as a Research Officer in the Cell and Tissue Therapies WA in Royal Perth Hospital. He graduated from his PhD in 2011 and has a background in cellular and molecular immunology, respiratory and stem cell research. His current research focus is on the characterization of biomarkers and mechanisms of IPF and COPD pathogenesis while seeking new strategies through cellular (e.g. mesenchymal stromal cells) and immune/molecular-based therapies to treat lung disease and the associated chronic inflammation.


Dr Claire Thomson - Clinician and PhD Student

Dr Gabriella Tikellis - Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr Gabriella Tikellis (PhD) is a researcher with a background in epidemiology and biostatistics who has worked in various disciplines such as ophthalmology, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and in the last 10 years as part of an international consortium focused on understanding the aetiology of childhood cancer. 

She is now pursuing her interest in translational research as part of the Translation and Education Support (TEDS) component of the CRE in Pulmonary Fibrosis, having joined Prof Anne Holland's Respiratory Research group at Alfred/Monash University in 2019 as a Research Fellow.

In the last few years, Gabriella has led a study that identified the top 10 research priorities for people living with PF that incorporated the perspectives of people living with PF, caregivers and health professionals; and has evaluated both care and support services for people with IPF in Australia.

Dr David Waters

Recipient of the Lung Foundation Australia's David Wilson PhD Scholarship.

David was a PhD student at the University of Newcastle researching idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. After completing an undergraduate degree in London studying Genetics & Molecular Biology, which included a year working in industry, he relocated to Australia to work in Prof Darryl Knight’s lab at the Hunter Medical Research Institute. His research interests are centred on cellular senescence in IPF pathogenesis. David was the grateful recipient of the LFA’s David Wilson Scholarship. This funding enabled David to present work at both TSANZ and ATS. Upon completion of his PhD David gained employment at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) where he continued to research IPF, and also allergic diseases. He has since moved to industry.

Dr Qiang Zheng - Clinician and PhD 

Dr Qiang is an anaesthesiologist who completed his Master of Medicine degree in Anhui Medical University, China. He has a background of four years clinical practice including general surgery, emergency medicine, and anaesthesia medicine in the First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University. In 2023, he completed his PhD at Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, focusing on epidemiology and health economics of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis in Australia.