Dr Cindy Ma

Group Leader - Human Immune Disorders

Senior Research Officer

Conjoint/Adjunct Role(s)

Conjoint Lecturer, St Vincent's Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Australia

Dr Cindy Ma obtained her PhD from the University of Sydney in 2006 and is currently an NHMRC-funded Career Development Fellow and Group Leader in the Immunology Division at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

Her research interests lie in studying human immune disorders. These research interests stemmed form her PhD, which investigated the humoral defects in the rare primary immunodeficiency, X-linked lymphoproliferative syndrome (XLP). The defects in generating antigen specific antibodies in XLP patients was found to be due to the inability of CD4+ T cells to provide appropriate “help” to XLP B cells. As such XLP B cells were intrinsically normal but did not receive the correct signals from CD4+ T cells to differentiate into an antibody-secreting cell.

Dr Ma’s work at the Garvan Institute continues to investigate human immunodeficiencies and autoimmune diseases and the subsequent disruptions to lymphocyte activation, differentiation and general behaviour. Some of these disorders include Hyper IgE syndrome, Hyper IgM syndrome, Mendalian Susceptibility to Mycobacterial Disease, Common Variable Immunodeficiency, X-linked agammaglobulinemia, and Sjogren’s syndrome.

Research Interests

Primary Immunodeficiency
CD4+ T cell differentiation
T follicular helper cells
Humoral immune response
B cell differentiation

Awards and Honours

2011 - NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (CDF1)
2007 - NHMRC Peter Doherty Research Fellowship
2002 - Australian Postgraduate Research Award (APA)


2006 - PhD, Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology, Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Sydney - Australia
2001 - BSc (Honours – first class), University of Sydney - Australia

Selected Publications

C Ma, N Wong, G Rao, D Avery, J Torpy, J Bustamante, J Okada, J Stoddard, EK Deenick, S Pelham, S Boisson-Dupuis, A Puel, M Kobayashi, P Arkwright, SS Kilic, J El Baghdadi, S Nonoyama, Y Minegishi, SA Mahdaviani, D Mansouri, A Bousfiha, M French, P Hsu, D Campbell, M Stormon, M Wong, S Adelstein, J Smart, D Fulcher, M Cook, TG Phan, P Stepensky, K Boztug, A Ikincioğullari, R Beier, J Ziegler, P Gray, C Picard, B Grimbacher, K Warnatz, S Holland, JL Casanova, G Uzel, SG Tangye. 2015. Monogenic mutations differentially impact the quantity and quality of T follicular helper cells inhuman primary immunodeficiencies. J Allergy Clin Immunol (May 2015).

CS Ma and EK Deenick. 2014. Human T follicular helper (Tfh) cells and disease. Immunology and Cell Biology. 2013 (in press)

ML Ives, CS Ma, U Palendira, A Chan, J Bustamante, S Boisson-Dupuis, PD Arkwright, D Engelhard, D Averbuch, K Magdorf, J Roesler, J Peake, M Wong, S Adelstein, S Choo, JM Smart, MA French, DA Fulcher, MC Cook, C Picard, A Durandy, M Tsumura, M Kobayashi, G Uzel, J-L Casanova, SG Tangye, and EK Deenick. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) mutations underlying autosomal dominant hyper-IgE syndrome impair human CD81 T-cell memory formation and function. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2013; 132: 400-411.

M Byun, CS Ma, A Akçay, V Pedergnana, U Palendira, J Myoung, DT Avery, Y Liu, A Abhyankar, L Lorenzo, M Schmidt, H Kyung Lim, O Cassar, M Migaud, F Rozenberg, N Canpolat, G Aydogan, B Fleckenstein, J Bustamante, C Picard, A Gessain, E Jouanguy, E Cesarman, M Olivier, P Gros, L Abel, M Croft, SG Tangye and J-L Casanova. Inherited human OX40 deficiency underlying classic Kaposi sarcoma of childhood. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2013; 210: 1743-1759.

CS Ma, EK Deenick, M Batten, and SG Tangye. The origins, function and regulation of T follicular helper cells. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2012; 209: 1241-1253.

CS Ma, DT Avery, A Chan, M Batten, J Bustamante, S Boisson-Dupuis, PD Arkwright, Y Minegishi, S Nonoyama, MA French, S Choo, JM Smart, J Peake, M Wong, P Gray, MC Cook, DA Fulcher, J-L Casanova, EK Deenick, and SG Tangye. Functional STAT3 deficiency compromises the generation of human T follicular helper cells. Blood. 2012; 119: 3997-4008.

KL Randall*, SS-Y Chan*, CS Ma*, I Fung*, Y Mei, M Yabas, A Tan, PD Arkwright, A Al Suwairi, S Oswaldo Lugo Reyes, MA Yamazaki-Nakashimada, M de la Luz Garia-Cruz, JM Smart, C picard, S Okada, E Jouanguy, JL Casanova, T Lambe, RJ Cornall, S Russell, J Oliaro, SG Tangye, EM Bertram, and CG Goodnow. 2011. DOCK8 deficiency impairs CD8 T cell survival and function in humans and mice. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 208: 2305-20. *equal contribution

EK Deenick, A Chan, CS Ma, D Gatto, PL Schwartzberg, R Brink, and SG Tangye. Follicular helper T cell differentiation requires continuous antigen presentation that is independent of unique B cell signalling. Immunity. 2010; 33: 241–253.

DT Avery*, EK Deenick*, CS Ma*, S Suryani, N Simpson. GY Chew, TD Chan, U Palendira, J Bustamante, S Boisson-Dupuis, S Choo, KE Bleasel, J Peake, MA French, D Engelhard, S Al-Hajjar, S Al-Muhsen, K Magdorf, J Roesler, PD Arkwright, P Hissaria, DS Riminton, M Wong, R Brink, DA Fulcher, JL Casanova, MC Cook, and SG Tangye.. B-cell intrinsic signalling through IL-21 receptor and STAT3 is required for establishing long-lived antibody responses in humans. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2010; 207: 155-171. *equal contribution

CS Ma, S Suryani, DT Avery, A Chan, R Nanan, B Santner-Nanan, EK Deenick, SG Tangye. Early commitment of naïve human CD4+ T cells to the T follicular helper (TFH) cell lineage is induced by IL-12. Immunology and Cell Biology. 2009; 87: 590-600.

DT Avery*, VL Byrant*, CS Ma*, R de Waal Malefyt and SG Tangye. IL-21-induced isotype switching to IgG and IgA by human naive B cells is differentially regulated by IL-4. Journal of Immunology. 2008; 181: 1767-1779.

S Chaganti*, CS Ma*, AI Bell, D Croom-Carter, AD Hislop, SG Tangye and AB Rickinson. Epstein-Barr virus persistence in the absence of conventional memory B cells: IgM+IgD+ CD27+ B cells harbour the virus in X-linked lymphoproliferative disease patients. Blood. 2008; 112: 672-679. *equal contribution

CS Ma, KE Nichols and SG Tangye. Regulation of cellular and humoral immune responses by the SLAM and SAP families of molecules. Annual Review of Immunology.2007; 25: 337-379.

CS Ma, S Pittaluga, DT Avery, NJ Hare, I Maric, AD Klion, KE Nichols, and SG Tangye. Selective generation of functional somatically mutated IgM+CD27+, but not Ig isotype-switched, memory B cells in X-linked lymphoproliferative disease. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2006; 116: 322-333.

CS Ma, NJ Hare, KE Nichols, L Dupre, MG Roncarolo, S Adelstein, PD Hodgkin and SG Tangye. Impaired humoral immunity in XLP is associated with defective IL-10 production by CD4+ T cells. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2005; 115: 1049-1059.

KE Nichols, J Hom, SY Gong, A Ganguly, CS Ma, JL Cannons, SG Tangye, PL Schwartzberg, GA Koretzy and PL Stein. Regulation of NKT cell development by SAP, the protein defective in XLP. Nature Medicine. 2005; 11: 340-345.

Dr Cindy Ma