Prof Jonathan Sprent

Prof Jonathan Sprent

Lab Head - Cellular Immunity

Senior Principal Research Fellow

Conjoint/Adjunct Role(s)

Visiting Professor, Postech University, Pohang, Korea

After a PhD at the Walter Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne and post-docs in Switzerland and UK, Jonathan Sprent worked for 30 years in the USA, first at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and then at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego.

During this time he worked on many aspects of T cell biology, including T-B collaboration during antibody production, role of T cells in graft-versus host disease after bone marrow transplantation, positive and negative selection during T cell differentiation in the thymus, T cell survival and homeostasis of mature T cells, construction of artificial antigen-presenting cells (APC) from insect cells, and the use of monoclonal antibodies (mAb) to enhance and target the activity of IL-2 and other cytokines.

Jonathan moved from the USA in 2006 to form a research group at the Garvan Institute where he has continued to work on T cell differentiation and function. The lab is supported by several NHMRC grants and has collaborative interactions with many other investigators, both nationally and internationally.

Research Interests

Thymus function
T cell differentiation and homeostasis
Immunological tolerance and suppression
Transplantation immunity

Awards and Honours

Fellow of the Royal Society
Fellow of the Australian Academy
Honorary Member, British Society of Immunology
Honorary Member, Korean Association of Immunologists
J.Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine
1998 President of the American Association of Immunologists
Merit Award x 2 NIH
Burnet Award NHMRC
Achievement Award NHMRC


MBBS, Medical School, University of Queensland, Brisbane - Australia
BSc, (Pathology) University of Queensland, Brisbane - Australia
PhD, (Immunology) Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne - Australia

Selected Publications

Webster K, Kim H-O, Kyparissoudis K, Corpuz TM, Pinget GV, Brink R,Belz,G, Cho J-H, Godfrey DI, Sprent J.  IL-17-producing NKT cells depend exclusively on IL-7 for homeostasis and survival. Mucosal Immunol 2013; in press

Boyman O and Sprent J. The role of interleukin-2 during homeostasis and activation of the immune system. Nature Rev Immunol 2012; 12:180-90.

Sprent J and Surh CD. Normal T cell homeostasis: the conversion of naïve cells into memory-phenotype cells. Nat Immunol 2011; 12:478-84.

Surh CD and Sprent J. TGFb puts the brakes on homeostatic proliferation. Nat Immunol 2012; 13:628-30.

Cho J-H, Kim H-O, Surh CD, Sprent J. TCR-dependent regulatory lipid rafts controls naïve CD8+ homeostasis. Immunity 2010; 32:214-226.

Webster KE, Walters S, Kohler RE, Mrkvan T, Boyman O, Surh CD, Grey ST, Sprent J. In vivo expansion of T reg cells with IL-2-mAb complexes: induction of resistance to EAE and long-term acceptance of islet allografts without immunosuppression. J. Exp. Med. 2009; 206:751-60.

Surh CD, Sprent J. Homeostasis of naïve and memory T cells. Immunity 2008; 29:848-862.

Boyman O, Purton JF, Surh CD, Sprent J. Cytokines and T-cell homeostasis. Curr Opin Immunol 2007; 19:320-26.

Purton JF, Tan JT, Rubinstein MP, Kim DM, Sprent J, Surh CD. Antiviral CD4+ memory T cells are IL-15 dependent. J Exp Med 2007; 204(4):951-61.

Boyman O, Kovar M, Rubinstein MP, Surh CD, Sprent J. Selective stimulation of T cell subsets with antibody-cytokine immune complexes. Science 2006; 311(5769):1924-7.

Ishimaru N, Kishimoto H, Hayashi Y, Sprent J. Regulation of naive T cell function by the NF-kappaB2 pathway. Nat Immunol 2006; 7(7):763-72.

Surh CD, Sprent J. On the TRAIL of homeostatic memory T cells. Nat Immunol 2006; 7(5):439-41.

Rubinstein MP, Kovar M, Purton JF, Cho JH, Boyman O, Surh CD, Sprent J. Converting IL-15 to a superagonist by binding to soluble IL-15Ralpha. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2006; 103(24):9166-71.

Kovar M, Boyman O, Shen X, Hwang I, Kohler R, Sprent J. Direct stimulation of T cells by membrane vesicles from antigen-presenting cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2006; 103(31):11671-6.

Boyman O, Cho JH, Tan JT, Surh CD, Sprent J. A major histocompatibility complex class I-dependent subset of memory phenotype CD8+ cells. J Exp Med 2006; 203(7):1817-25.

Prof Jonathan Sprent