Vilija Jokubaitis

Assoc Professor

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

- Impact of pregnancy on long-term outcomes in women with multiple sclerosis – assessment of mechanism

- The genetics of MS severity - an investigation of the P2X7 Receptor

20082024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Biography

Associate Professor Vilija G. Jokubaitis (B. Com/B.Sci (Hons), PhD) is a Group Head in the Department of Neuroscience, School of Translational Medicine at Monash University.  She leads the Neuroimmunology Genomics, and Prognostics Group. She is a clinical and translational neuroscientist with skills in molecular medicine and biostatistics. Her research interest lies specifically, in the intersection between biology and clinical outcomes research. The overarching aim of her research is to improve the prediction of Neuroinflammatory disease outcomes (with a focus on MS) in individuals, with the ultimate goal of informing patient management and treatment individualisation.

Previously, Associate Professor Jokubaitis was working as a Senior Research Fellow and Group Head in the Department of Neuroscience, School of Translational Medicine at Monash University since 2018.  

Associate Professor Jokubaitis has conducted peer review for journals including The Lancet Neurology, Brain, Annals of Neurology, Neurology, Scientific Reports, JNNP, Multiple Sclerosis Journal, MS and Related Disorders, Human molecular genetics, and PLoS One. 

Research interests

Dr Jokubaitis' research themes fall under three broad umbrellas:

  1. Women's Health and Pregnancy Research. She leads an international Women's Health, Pregnancy and neonatal outcomes Registry integrated in MSBase (www.msbase.org). This line of enquiry includes elucidating the biological mechanisms underlying pregnancy impacts on disease states.
  2. Identification of genetic and epigenetic signals associated with disease outcomes, disease states and treatment response.
  3. Integration of biological (biomarker, genetic) and environmental data with clinical outcomes data to inform prognostic modelling.

Community service

Head of the International Women in MS Mentorship Program https://iwims.world

Monash teaching commitment

2020 - TRM6005 – Clinical and Translational Neuroscience Lecturer

2018 - Monash University – Human Pathology (HUP3022) Lecturer in Multiple Sclerosis

University Service

Department of Neuroscience and MAPrc, School of Translational Medicine, Honours Coordinator for BSc and BMS streams

Community service

2019 – 2022 - Stop and Reverse MS Vice-Chair of Steering Committee – I was a steering committee member and working group member of the patient-reported outcomes working group for this MS Research Australia initiative that aims to greatly accelerate MS research to achieve the goal of stopping and reversing MS in 10 years. AI on successful NHMRC Partnerships Grant application to support this project and develop a web-app to facilitate collection of patient-reported outcomes, and improve clinical management.

2019 - Scientific Conference Organising Committee Member – MS Research Australia 2019 Research Conference https://msra.org.au/conferences-and-workshops/

2018 – present - I am the digital content manager for the International Women in MS network. We are currently hosting regular COVID-19 information sessions for neurologists and scientists globally. We are providing an opportunity to share in experiences of managing people with MS during this pandemic, and to discuss registry efforts to track outcomes of those affected. I curate the iWiMS website (www.iwims.world) including a COVID-19 information page. This page engages neurologists, scientists and people with MS. We are sharing recordings of these meetings on our site to enable all people to access this information.

2017 - Developed and gave a series of 3 lessons for Prep students (aged 5-6) to introduce them to science.  Themes included: What is science?  What types of science are there? What do scientists do? What am I made of? (DNA the recipe for life) and How the brain works. – Northcote Primary School.

2016 - Science communication to pre-schoolers – teaching young children how to care for their brains – Northcote Time-Out Childcare centre.

2014 - present - MBC MS partnership group.  I am part of a collaborative effort to foster communication and develop common goals between MS advocacy groups and MS researchers

2014 - present - MSTranslate. I have provided content for MSTranslate (http://www.mstranslate.com.au/) during their MS@MBC feature week in March 2014. I have been involved in google hangouts answering  questions, and have provided a video interview to be shared shortly.

2013 - Guest blogger on Gavin Giovannoni’s Multiple Sclerosis Research blog. (http://multiple-sclerosis-research.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/guest-post-from-down-under-early.html)

2013 - ASMR scientists in schools program, talk about MS and medical research as a career at MacRobertson Girls’ High School (Melbourne, Victoria)

2010 - Logan Central Library (Brisbane, Queensland) public lecture entitled “Our Amazing Brain”

2010 - Queensland Brain Institute Open Day volunteer

2006 - Hobart Convention Centre – MS Research Update – Rotary District 9800 conference

2005 - Brain awareness week volunteer – Melton Primary School

Supervision interests

Impact of pregnancy on long-term outcomes in women with multiple sclerosis – assessment of mechanism

Data suggests that pregnancy in women with multiple sclerosis (MS) may exert long-term health benefits. Comparisons of women with and without pregnancy (but otherwise equivalent disease at a baseline time point) has shown less accumulation of disability in those who have had pregnancies. Further it has been shown that the risk of developing MS diminishes with increasing parity. The mechanism by which pregnancy protects against MS, and the accumulation of disability has not been established. This project will investigate the biological mechanism by which pregnancy exerts protection against the accumulation of disability.

The genetics of MS severity - an investigation of the P2X7 Receptor

MS is a chronic neuroinflammatory condition with associated demyelination and neurodegeneration. The most common form of MS is relapsing-remitting (RRMS) where new symptoms occur in isolated attacks (relapses) which can lead to permanent neurological deficits. The outcomes of people with MS are highly variable, some accumulate a lot of disability, despite the use of effective immunotherapies, whilst others accumulate little disability. Our recent work characterising the genetic architecture of MS severity, has demonstrated that progressive MS is associated with an overrepresentation of genes expressed in CNS compartments. Specifically, we have identified signals involving synaptic plasticity, oligodendroglial biology and cellular senescence in being associated with more severe MS. Additionally, we have been investigating the role of innate immune cells, namely monocytes and microglia and their role in MS pathogenesis and outcomes. Specifically, we are interested in a purinergic receptor, P2X7 and its role in microglial activation, and MS outcomes.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Neuroscience, PhD, University of Melbourne

… → 2009

External positions

Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Alfred Hospital

Feb 2018 → …

Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

22 Jan 2018 → …

Honorary Research Fellow, Royal Melbourne Hospital

2011 → …

Research area keywords

  • Neuroimmunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Central Nervous System
  • Women's Health
  • Genetics
  • Epigenetics
  • Biomarkers
  • Pharmacogenomics
  • Epidemiology
  • Outcomes Research
  • Biostatistics
  • Lifestyle behaviours

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or