Associate Professor Raymond John Steptoe

BSc(Hons) PhD

Group Leader


Gene therapy for tolerance using hematopoietic stem cells

Understanding the mechanisms of T-cell tolerance

Reversal of autoimmune diabetes

Therapy of allergies and allergic airways disease

Understanding impairment of the immune response in B lymphoma

About me

Associate Professor Ray Steptoe undertook undergraduate studies in Anatomy and Human Biology and postgraduate studies in Immunology at the University of Western Australia. After further research training at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute in Pittsburgh, USA, he returned to Australia to pursue research in autoimmune diabetes at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. In 2004, he moved to Brisbane to take up a Research Fellowship at the Diamantina Institute.

Associate Professor Steptoe now heads a team of researchers investigating how pathogenic immune responses can be turned off. Associate Professor Steptoe is currently a recipient of an an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. Associate Professor Steptoe’s research interests are aimed at determining the cellular and molecular pathways that are important in determining the fate of T-cell activation. In particular, studies are directed at understanding how to terminate pathogenic T cell responses with the goal of developing new therapeutic approaches to prevent or treat autoimmune diseases.


1. Coleman MA, Bridge JA, Lane SW, Dixon CM, Hill GR, Wells JW, Thomas R, Steptoe RJ. Tolerance induction with gene-modified stem cells and immune-preserving conditioning in primed mice: Restricting antigen to differentiated antigen-presenting cells permits efficacy. Blood. 121:1049-1058, 2013.

2. Coleman MA, Steptoe RJ. Induction of antigen-specific tolerance through hematopoietic stem cell-mediated gene therapy: the future for therapy of autoimmune disease? Autoimmunity Reviews. 12:195-203, 2012. 

3. Bertin-Maghit S, Pang D, O’Sullivan B, Best S, Duggan E, ThomasH, KayTWH, HarrisonLC, Steptoe R and Thomas R IL-1β produced in response to islet autoantigen presentation differentiates T-helper 17 cells at the expense of regulatory T cells: implications for the timing of tolerizing immunotherapy. Diabetes. 60:248-257, 2011.

4. McNally A, Hill GR, Sparwasser T, Thomas R, Steptoe RJ. CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells control CD8+ T-cell effector differentiation by modulating IL-2 homeostasis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 108:7529–7534, 2011.

5. Shah N, SteptoeRJ, ParekhHS. Low generation asymmetric dendrimers with minimal toxicity effectively complex DNA. J Peptide Sci. 17:470-478 2011.

6. Nasreen M, Waldie T, Dixon CM, Steptoe RJ. Steady-state antigen-expressing dendritic cells expressing cognate antigen terminate CD4+ memory T-cell responses. Eur J Immunol. 40:2016-2025, 2010.

7. Kenna TJ, Waldie T, McNally A. Thomson M, Yagita H, Thomas R, Steptoe RJ. Targeting antigen to diverse APC types inactivates memory CD8+ T cells without eliciting destructive effector function. J Immunol. 184:598-606, 2010.

8. Doan T, McNally A, Thomas R, Steptoe RJ. Steady-state peripheral dendritic cells continuously inactivate T cells that escape thymic negative selection. Immunol Cell Biol. 87:615-622, 2009.

9. Steptoe RJ, Ritchie JR, WilsonNS, VilladangosJA, LewAM, Harrison LC. Cognate CD4+ help elicited by resting DC does not impair tolerance induction in CD8+ T-cells. J Immunol. 178: 2094-2103, 2007.

10. Kenna TJ, Thomas R, Steptoe RJ. Steady-state dendritic cells expressing cognate antigen terminate memory CD8+ T-cell responses. Blood. 111:2091-2100, 2008. 

 Additional publications:

  1. Wilson NS, Behrens GMN, Lundie RJ, Smith CM, Waithman J, Young L, Forehan SP, Mount A, Steptoe RJ, Shortman KD, de Koning-Ward T, Belz GT, Carbone FR, Crabb BS, Heath WR, Villadangos JA. Systemic activation of dendritic cells by TLR ligands or malaria infection impairs cross-presentation and anti-viral immunity. Nat Immunol. 7:165-172, 2
  2. Steptoe RJ, Ritchie JM, Harrison LC. Transfer of hematopoietic stem cells encoding an autoantigen prevents autoimmune diabetes. J Clin Invest. 111:1357-1363, 2003

Research fields

immunology, immune tolerance