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Dr Samy Sakkal

BSc (Hons), PhD (Monash), GradCertTertEd (VicMelb)

Lecturer, College of Health & Biomedicine

Dr Samy Sakkal is a lecturer and researcher in the College of Health and Biomedicine where he is based at the St Albans campus and at the Western Centre for Health Research and Education. He has a particular focus on practical and theoretical immunology education and manages the VU flow cytometry facility.

Samy has an interdisciplinary background - his work is at the intersection of immunology, stem cell biology, neurobiology and exercise physiology.

His research seeks to address the shortage of immunology knowledge and its application in neurobiology and exercise physiology. Before joining VU Samy worked for the Australian Stem Cell Centre and Monash University. There he studied macrophage biology in models of kidney and lung disease in addition to developing a functional assay to identify ureteric bud progenitors.

His PhD from Monash University (2010) titled “Regenerative Potential of the Female Thymus in Natural and Induced Models of Thymic Involution” explored the impact of pregnancy, lactation and corticosteroids on maternal thymus plasticity.

Samy is a multi-award winning immunology educator whose passion for teaching has been recognised by a $10,000 National Teaching Award from the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching in 2013. He received a citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. He has also been recognised by the Vice Chancellors Awards for Excellence Teaching (2013) and more recently by a College of Health and Biomedicine Teaching Excellence Award (2015). 

Recent publications

Refereed journal articles

Stojanovska V, Sakkal S, Nurgali K. Platinum-based chemotherapy: gastrointestinal immunomodulation and enteric nervous system toxicity. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2015 Feb 15;308(4):G223-32. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00212.2014. Epub 2014 Dec 11. Review.

Robinson AM, Sakkal S, Park A, Jovanovska V, Payne N, Carbone SE, Miller S, Bornstein JC, Bernard C, Boyd R, Nurgali K. Mesenchymal stem cells and conditioned medium avert enteric neuropathy and colon dysfunction in guinea pig TNBS-induced colitis. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2014 Dec 1;307(11):G1115-29. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00174.2014.

Moore JP*, Sakkal S*, Bullen ML, Kemp-Harper BK, Ricardo SD, Sobey CG, Drummond GR.A flow cytometric method for the analysis of macrophages in the vascular wall. J Immunol Methods. 2013 Oct 31;396(1-2):33-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2013.07.009. Epub 2013 Aug 6.PMID:23928493 *denotes equal first contribution

Chan CT, Moore JP, Budzyn K, Guida E, Diep H, Vinh A, Jones ES, Widdop RE, Armitage JA, Sakkal S, Ricardo SD, Sobey CG, Drummond GR Reversal of vascular macrophage accumulation and hypertension by a CCR2 antagonist in deoxycorticosterone/salt-treated mice. Hypertension. 2012 Nov;60(5):1207-12. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.112.201251. Epub 2012 Oct 1.

Fletcher AL., Lowen T, Sakkal S., Reiseger JJ, Hammett M., Scott HS, Boyd RL and Chidgey AP. Ablation and Regeneration of Tolerance-Inducing Medullary Thymic Epithelial Cells after Cyclosporine, Cyclophosphamide, and Dexamethasone Treatment. The Journal of Immunology. 2009.183: 823– 831.

Conference presentations

Sakkal, S (2014) Unbiased flow cytometric analysis of platelet aggregation and activation: guidelines for standardisation Australasian Cytometry Society Annual Meeting. Gold Coast, Australia

Sakkal, S (2014) MR1 restricted T cells undergo expansion in response to acute exercise Australasian Society for Immunology Annual Meeting, Wollongong, Australia.

Sakkal, S. (2014) Differential pedagogical approaches for immunology teaching: engaging undergraduate health cohorts Education Symposium at the Australasian Society for Immunology Annual Meeting, Wollongong, Australia

Sakkal, S. (2013) Analysis of Human Lymphocyte Cytotoxicity and Phenotype After Acute Exercise Intervention Australasian Society for Immunology Annual Meeting, Wellington, NZ

Sakkal, S. (2013) A flow cytometric method for the analysis of macrophages in the vascular wall. Australasian Society for Immunology Annual Meeting, Wellington, NZ.

Sakkal, S. (2013) Dissecting Autofluoresence: Unbiased Analysis of Macrophages in the Vascular Wall Australasian Flow Cytometry Group Annual Meeting, Wellington, NZ

Sakkal, S. (2010) Establishment of a functional assay to identify renal tubular epithelial progenitors. International Society for Stem Cell Research Annual Meeting, California, USA.

Full list of Samy's publications in the VU institutional repository.

Teaching responsibilities

Lecturer in the College of Health and Biomedicine for the following units:

RBM1202 (nursing), RBM1208 (paramed), RBM1222(midwifery), RBM1528(Biomed), RBM2202(nursing), RBM2540(biomed), RBM3610(biomed), RBM3720(biomed).

Coordination

  • RBM3720 (Immunology)
  • RBM2540 (Pathophysiology 2).

Postgraduate research students and fellows

Completions  

  • Sarah Miller (2012)
  • Vanesa Stojanovska (2012) (co-supervisor)
  • Shadney Que (2013)
  • Rhian Stavely (2014) (co-supervisor).

Current supervision 

  • Rhian Stavely (PhD) (co-supervisor)
  • S arah Miller (PhD) (co-supervisor)
  • Ainsley Robinson (PhD) (co-supervisor)
  • JeeHoon Ham (honours)
  • Rhiannon Filippone (honours).

Research grants

Sakkal, S and Nurgali K. (2014) VU Collaborative Research Grant Scheme- near miss grant. Assessing the efficacy and safety of stem cells derived from adipose tissue for the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. $20,000

Sakkal, S and Nurgali K. (2013) VU Research Development Grant Scheme near miss grant. Assessing the efficacy and safety of stem cells derived from adipose tissue for the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. $29,800

Hansen, E, Sakkal, S, McConell, G and Hayes A (2012-2014). Acute exercise intervention on immune function in obese and prostatic cancer patients. Australian Government Collaborative Research Network Consumables Grant. $18,000.

Professional memberships

  • Australasian Society for Immunology
  • Australasian Society for Cytometry.

Industry experience

  • Research Officer/Fellow, Australian Stem Cell Centre (2009-2010)
  • Pharmaceutical division, CSL Ltd. (2000-2001).

Areas of expertise

  • Exercise immunology
  • Immunology
  • Neuroimmunobiology of gastrointestinal neuropathies
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Reproductive immunology
  • Stem cell biology
Samy Sakkal

Contact details

+61 3 9919 2641