Monif group

Neuroimmunology, Neuroinflammation and Neurological Diseases Laboratory - Monif Group

The Monif Group studies neuroinflammation in a number of neurological conditions (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis, Autoimmune Encephalitis and Brain Cancer), focusing on the role of innate immunity and purinergic signalling to understand their implications in the development of the conditions and avenues for new drug treatments.

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L-R top row: Paul Sanfilippo, Nabil Seery, Katrina Kan, Robb Wesselingh, William O'Brien, Tiffany Rushen.
L-R bottom row: Mastura Monif (Group Leader), Tracie Tan, Sher Chim Ting, Sarah Griffith, Andrea Muscat.

Get in touch

Whether you want to be involved in our research, you wish to study with us or donate to our work, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Available honours and postgraduate research projects

Our work

We focus on solving the most challenging problems in neurological conditions

  • To more accurately define autoimmune encephalitis in the clinical setting at onset and progression to reduce its misdiagnosis and assist patients getting an earlier diagnosis
  • To find better treatments to increase the survival rates of people with glioblastoma without the disabling side effects which impact on quality of life
  • To identify soluble biomarkers for people who have flares in multiple sclerosis to develop targeted therapies to improve their functional independence

The majority of our work is translational, i.e. it is based on seeing or recruiting patients at the bedside (hospital) by obtaining their insights and collecting samples like tissue or blood and using these for our analysis in the laboratory to answer major research questions.

Our ultimate aim is to take the findings or knowledge we produce in the laboratory back into the hospital setting to improve treatments and provide advancements in patient care.

We use multiple technologies and biological methods to perform our work including tissue culture, live cell confocal imaging, immunocytochemistry, flow cytometry and immunoassay experiments (e.g. ELISA, qPCR). We use the following Monash Technology Research Platforms – FlowCore, Monash Histology Platform, and Monash Micro Imaging (MMI).

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Our people

Group leader

Research Coordinator
Ms Tiffany Rushen

Research Assistants
Mr Richard Sequeira
Mr Padmakrishnan Chorakode Jayakrishnan

Biostatistician/Applied statistician
Dr Paul Sanfilippo

Clinical researchers
Dr Claire Meaton
Dr Hannah Ford

PhD students
Dr Robb Wesselingh
Dr James Broadly
Mr William O’Brien 
Ms Katrina Kan 
Ms Sarah Griffith 
Mr Matthew Drill 
Dr Tracie Tan 
Dr Nabil Seery 
Dr Mohammad Amin

Honours student
Ms Sian Stukey

Medical students
Ms Sinali Seneviratne
Ms Sher Chim Ting 
Mr Ivan Chan

Our achievements

Awards

  • Mr Matthew Drill – 2019 Robyn O’Hehir Honours Dux prize, 2nd place in Science Byte section (2021 CCS Graduate Research Symposium)
  • Mr Robb Wesselingh – 2nd Prize for the Best poster (2021 CCS Graduate Research Symposium), People’s choice award (2020 CCS Graduate Research Symposium), 1st Prize for Best oral presentation and People’s choice award (2019 CCS Graduate Research Symposium)
  • Mr William O’Brien – 3rd Prize for Best poster (2019 CCS Graduate Research Symposium)
  • Ms Katrina Kan – 1st Prize in Science Byte (2020 CCS Graduate Research Symposium)
  • Ms Sarah Griffith – 3rd Prize for Best oral presentation and People’s choice award (2020 CCS Graduate Research Symposium)
  • Dr Mastura Monif – 2019 Monash Graduate Supervisor of the Year

Grants

  • Dr Mastura Monif
    • 2021 - NHMRC Ideas grant (CIA Monif)
    • 2020 - NHMRC Medical Research Future Fund (CIA Monif)
    • 2020 - MS Research Australia Project grant (CIA Monif)
    • 2020 - Bethlehem Griffith Foundation (CIA Monif)
    • 2020 - Charles and Sylvia Viertel Clinical Investigator Award (CIA Monif)
    • 2020 - Ku Leuven  (CIC, Monif)
    • 2019 - Merck Investigator Grant (CIA Monif)
    • 2019 -  Brain Foundation Research Award (CIA Monif)
    • 2018 - Melbourne Health Neurosciences Foundation (CIA Monif)

Publication highlights

Below are a selection of some of published studies reflecting our high impact work. A full list of our publications can be found here.

Autoimmune Encephalitis

Electroclinical biomarkers of autoimmune encephalitis. Epilepsy & behavior : E&B, March 2022. Wesselingh, R., Broadley, J., Buzzard, K., Tarlinton, D., Seneviratne, U., Kyndt, C., Stankovich, J., Sanfilippo, P., Nesbitt, C., D'Souza, W., Macdonell, R., Butzkueven, H., O'Brien, T. J., & Monif, M.

Prognostic value of acute cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities in antibody-positive autoimmune encephalitis. Journal of neuroimmunology Journal of Neuroimmunology, April 2021. Broadley, J., Wesselingh, R., Seneviratne, U., Kyndt, C., Beech, P., Buzzard, K., Nesbitt, C., D'souza, W., Brodtmann, A., Macdonell, R., Kalincik, T., Butzkueven, H., O'Brien, T. J., Monif, M., & Australian Autoimmune Encephalitis Consortium

Peripheral Immune Cell Ratios and Clinical Outcomes in Seropositive Autoimmune Encephalitis: A Study by the Australian Autoimmune Encephalitis Consortium. Frontiers in immunology, January 2021, Broadley, J., Wesselingh, R., Seneviratne, U., Kyndt, C., Beech, P., Buzzard, K., Nesbitt, C., D'Souza, W., Brodtmann, A., Kalincik, T., Butzkueven, H., O'Brien, T. J., Monif, M., & Australian Autoimmune Encephalitis Consortium

Innate Immunity in the Central Nervous System: A Missing Piece of the Autoimmune Encephalitis Puzzle? Frontiers in immunology. September 2019, Wesselingh, R., Butzkueven, H., Buzzard, K., Tarlinton, D., O'Brien, T. J., & Monif, M.

Brain Cancer

Pretreatment neutrophil-to-lymphocyte/monocyte-to-lymphocyte ratio as prognostic biomarkers in glioma patients. Journal of Neuroimmunology, December 2021. Chim ST, Sanfilippo P, O'Brien TJ, Drummond KJ, Monif M.

Inhibition of purinergic P2X receptor 7 (P2X7R) decreases granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) expression in U251 glioblastoma cells. Scientific reports, September 2020. Drill, M., Powell, K. L., Kan, L. K., Jones, N. C., O'Brien, T. J., Hamilton, J. A., & Monif, M.

P2X7 receptor antagonism inhibits tumour growth in human high-grade gliomas. Purinergic signalling, September 2020, Kan, L. K., Seneviratne, S., Drummond, K. J., Williams, D. A., O'Brien, T. J., & Monif, M.

The role of microglia and P2X7 receptors in gliomas. Journal of neuroimmunology, July 2019, Kan, L. K., Williams, D., Drummond, K., O'Brien, T., & Monif, M.

Interleukin-1β has trophic effects in microglia and its release is mediated by P2X7R pore. Journal of neuroinflammation, June 2016, Monif, M., Reid, C. A., Powell, K. L., Drummond, K. J., O'Brien, T. J., & Williams, D. A.

Multiple Sclerosis

Prediction of multiple sclerosis outcomes when switching to ocrelizumab - Multiple Sclerosis Journal, October 2021.
Michael Zhong, Anneke van der Walt, Jim Stankovich, ... , Mastura Monif, Melissa Gresle, Helmut Butzkueven*, Vilija G Jokubaitis

Predicting Infection Risk in Multiple Sclerosis Patients Treated with Ocrelizumab: A Retrospective Cohort Study. CNS Drugs. August 2021. Seery, N., Sharmin, S., Li, V., ... , Monif, M.

Fast and safe: Optimising multiple sclerosis infusions during COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple sclerosis and related disorders, January 2021. Rath, L., Bui, M. V., Ellis, J., Carey, J., Baker, J., Taylor, L., Fernando, H., Taylor, N., Savage, P., Richards, J., Zhong, M., Kalincik, T., Skibina, O., Wesselingh, R., Nguyen, A. L., Monif, M., Butzkueven, H., & van der Walt, A.

The role of vitamin D and P2X7R in multiple sclerosis. Journal of neuroimmunology, May 2019, Voo, V., O'Brien, T., Butzkueven, H., & Monif, M.