Meet The Researcher

Dr Hugh Reid

Monash University

Let’s get started! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself...
My high school mathematics teacher told my father I should get a trade job as he saw no future for me in academia.
What inspired you to get involved in MS research?
I have a keen interest in understanding how and why molecules of the immune system interact and trigger aberrant responses against self.
What do you think has been the most exciting development in MS research?
Two recent discoveries are of huge interest: 1) EBV infection shown to be a key risk factor in MS pathogenesis and 2) the discovery of a B lymphocyte protein, RAS-GRP2, being involved in the maintenance of low-level autoreactive T proliferation.
Tell us about your current research project...
Up to 60 % of the genetic risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) is conferred by immune regulatory molecules known as human leukocyte antigens or "HLA". Receptors on T lymphocytes (called TCR) recognise small fragments of self-protein (called "antigens") bound to HLA which in turn triggers inflammation and damage in the central nervous system (CNS) of MS patients. Proliferation of self-reactive T cells in MS patients has recently been shown to be maintained by B lymphocytes. Evidence indicates that this "autoproliferation" is dependent on TCR recognition of HLA molecules binding to a self-peptide antigen from these B lymphocytes. This project is focused on understanding the molecular events underpinning the aberrant immune response in MS, specifically TCR recognition of this self-peptide from B-lymphocytes bound to HLA. This work will provide a molecular picture of the exact moment the molecules that lead to activation of the aberrant immune response in MS are triggered.
Why is your research important and how will it influence the understanding and treatment of MS?
By providing a molecular basis for how the immune response is triggered in MS, we will be provided with a basis for developing molecules to interfere with this interaction and hence 'short-circuit" the aberrant immune response.
What do you enjoy most about working in the lab and what are some of the challenges you face?
Structural biology lab work is extremely rewarding as it provides you with the privilege of observing the molecular mechanisms responsible for observed phenomena that no other person has witnessed before. That said, major discoveries can take 10 years to achieve. Thank you for your participation in this initiative which will allow our donors, stakeholders and individuals impacted by MS, to learn more about the talented researchers who are helping to bring us closer to finding a cure to this disease.
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Dr Hugh Reid