Meet the Researcher

Professor Denise Doolan

The University of Queensland, QLD

Professor Denise Doolan is the Director of Research at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland.

Professor Doolan loves exploring how things work and building on this to improve global public health.

Born and raised in Papua New Guinea, this upbringing inspired Professor Doolan’s passion for medical research.

About Professor Denise Doolan

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself
I was born and raised in Papua New Guinea and this upbringing inspired my passion for medical research.
What inspired you to get involved in MS research?
We have developed a protein microarray technology with widespread application to many diseases and wanted to apply this technology to help improve the lives of millions of people worldwide who suffer from this debilitating disease.
What do you think has been the most exciting development in MS research?
The recent study of 10 million young adults in the US military spanning 20 years revealed that the risk of MS increased 32-fold after infection with EBV, but was unchanged after infection with other viruses, which provided compelling evidence implicating EBV infection as the trigger for MS onset.
Tell us about your current research project
Infection with Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is a strong risk factor for the development of MS. This research project aims to identify from the complete EBV proteome the EBV antigens that are targets of an increased immune response in MS and define an anti-EBV antibody signature specific to MS that could ultimately be developed into a point-of-care diagnostic test for MS.
Why is your research important and how will it influence the understanding and treatment of MS?
With no definitive cure and no specific test available, MS diagnosis is challenging and time-consuming, and the unpredictable course of disease poses further challenges for effective treatment. This research project directly addresses this critical gap, by leveraging the knowledge that Epstein-Barr Virus is a risk factor for MS to identify specific biomarkers for the disease which could be developed into a user-friendly blood-based point-of-care diagnostic test for MS disease and recurrence. This would have high clinical utility and worldwide impact.
What do you enjoy most about working in the lab and what are some of the challenges you face?
I love exploring how things work and building on this to improve global public health.
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Denise Doolan