Jokubaitis group

Neuroimmunology Genomics and Prognostics

What's on the page?

Key terms

Multiple Sclerosis, Neuroimmunology, Women’s Health, Pregnancy, Neonatal Outcomes, Genetics, Pharmacogenomics, Prognostics, Outcomes Research, Biostatistics, Epidemiology

2021 Jokubaitis group
2021 Jokubaitis group. L-R: Dr Omar Ibrahim, Ms Pia Campagna, Dr Vilija Jokubaitis (Head), Dr Michael Zhong, Mr Sandeep Sampangi, Dr Wei Yeh

Student research projects

Group Leader - Dr Vilija G. Jokubaitis

Vilija Jokubaitis portraitDr Vilija G. Jokubaitis's 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.

E: vilija.jokubaitis@monash.edu

Find out more about Dr Vilija G. Jokubaitis

Research goal

To improve the long-term outcomes for people with MS through evidence-based management, and treatment individualisation strategies. My group’s particular focus is on the optimization of MS therapy use, and the interplay between therapy use and women’s health.

Research overview

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Globally MS affect about 2.8 million people, in Australia, MS prevalence is around 1 in 1,000, equating to about 23,000 Australians. Multiple Sclerosis represents a significant burden to Australian society with an estimated annual cost of >$1.7 billion AUD, due to lost productivity, and healthcare costs that increase markedly with disease-associated disability

The long-term disability outcomes of people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) vary greatly, ranging from little or no disease-associated disability, to severe disease that can render individuals wheelchair or bed-bound within a decade of onset. Further, MS disproportionately affects 3 times more women than men, and is usually diagnosed during a woman’s reproductive years (20-40). My group’s research focus sits at the intersection between biology and clinical outcomes research.

Our research falls under three broad umbrellas:

  1. Women’s Health, Pregnancy and Neonatal Outcomes
  2. Identification of genetic and epigenetic signals associated with disease outcomes and treatment response
  3. Integration of biological (biomarker, genetic) and environmental data with clinical outcomes data to inform prognostic modelling

Our research integrates biological data with clinical outcomes data with the aim of better understanding what drives disability outcomes in MS, and similar neuroimmunological conditions such as neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD).

Projects

We collaborate nationally and internationally in order to be able to answer some of the big questions in MS. We have strong collaborative links with the MSBase Registry. Dr Jokubaitis is a member of the MSBase Scientific Leadership Group. She is the co-Chair and Scientific Leader of the MSBase Women’s Health, Pregnancy and Neonatal Outcomes Registry.

We have a number of on-going projects that utilize genetic, genomic, biostatistic, and epidemiological methodologies to approach our research aims.  Some of our current projects are listed below:

Current project funding

  • 2022 - 2024 CI MS Research Australia Project Grant 21-069 Determining the risk of cervical precancer and cancer in women with MS
  • 2020 - 2023 AI NHMRC Partnership Grant APP1180724 in the sum of $703,705 with additional matched support from partners totalling $1.4M. InforMS – an electronic patient-driven health care model with digital biomarker monitoring that improves the clinical care of people with MS.
  • 2020 - 2021 CI  Pharmacogenomic prediction of treatment response in multiple sclerosis, Roche Pharmaceuticals,  in the sum of $30,000
  • 2020 - 2022 CI The ACTIVE-MS Program (MSRA grant) in the sum of $250,000
  • 2019 - 2021 CI Active Participatory Health Monitoring in people with Multiple Sclerosis to improve treatment (Active-MS) MRFF - $242,000
  • 2019 - 2022 CIA NHMRC Project Grant APP1156519 in the sum of $470,079. Multiple Sclerosis: Pregnancy and Prognosis
  • 2019 - 2021 CI MS Research Australia Project Grant 18-0424 in the sum of $211,000 Epigenetics of MS Severity

Selected recent publications

For full list of publications, visit Pubmed. See Monash University feed of recent publications and projects below.

  1. Campagna MP, Xavier A, Stankovich J, et al., Jokubaitis VG [senior author] Birth history is associated with whole-blood and T-cell methylation patterns in relapse onset multiple sclerosis. MedRxiv 25 Mar 2022 doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.03.24.22272917
  2. Jokubaitis VG, Ibrahim OE, Stankovich J, et al., Not all roads lead to the immune system: The Genetic Basis of Multiple Sclerosis Severity Implicates Central Nervous System and Mitochondrial Involvement. MedRxiv 6 Feb 2022 https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.02.04.22270362
  3. Yeh W, Widyastuti AP, van der Walt A, et al., Jokubaitis VG [senior author] Natalizumab, Fingolimod, and Dimethyl Fumarate use and pregnancy-related relapse and disability in women with multiple sclerosis. Neurology 2021; 96(24):e2989-3002
  4. Jokubaitis VG, Skibina O, Alroughani R, et al., on behalf of the MSBase Scientific Leadership Group†. The MSBase Pregnancy, Neonatal Outcomes, and Women’s Health Registry. TAND 12 Apr 2021; 14:1-8 https://doi.org/10.1177/17562864211009104
  5. Nguyen A, Vodehnalova K, Kalincik T et al., Jokubaitis VG (Senior author). Effect of pregnancy on the onset of clinically isolated syndrome. JAMA Neurology 2020: 77(12):1-9.
  6. Gresle MM, Jordan MA, Stankovich J, et al., Multiple Sclerosis risk variants regulate gene expression in innate and adaptive immune cells. Life Science Alliance 3(7):e202000650. doi: 10.26508/lsa.202000650
  7. Zhong M, van der Walt A, Campagna MP, Stankovich J, Butzkueven H, Jokubaitis V (Senior author). The pharmacogenomics of rituximab: potential implications for anti-CD20 agents in multiple sclerosis. Neurotherapeutics 2020: 17(4):1768-84
  8. Jokubaitis VG, Spelman T, Kalincik T, et al., Predictors of long-term disability accrual in relapse-onset multiple sclerosis. Annals of Neurology. 2016; 80(1): 89-100.
  9. Jokubaitis VG, Spelman T, Kalincik T, Lorscheider J, Havrdova E, Horakova D, et al. Predictors of long-term disability accrual in relapse-onset multiple sclerosis. Annals of Neurology. 2016 Jul;80(1):89-100
  10. Jokubaitis VG, Li V, Kalincik T, Izquierdo G, Hodgkinson S, Alroughani R, et al. Fingolimod after natalizumab and the risk of short-term relapse.  Neurology. 2014 Apr 8;82(14):1204-11.