Meet The Researcher

Associate Professor Tomas Kalincik

Professor Tomas Kalincik

University of Melbourne

Let’s get started! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself...
When not studying treatment of MS, I enjoy climbing rocks in beautiful Australian outback with my family.
What inspired you to get involved in MS research?
There were a number of factors that have attracted me to study outcomes in MS: the rapidly evolving therapeutic possibilities, the dramatic improvement in the outcomes among patients living with MS over the last two decades, the growing volume of data that were to be translated into evidence with exciting analytical methods, and my former clinical mentors Dana Horakova and Helmut Butzkueven.
What do you think has been the most exciting development in MS research?
MS is an incredibly exciting field to work in. Every year, we see a break-through discovery. A few examples include the discovery of the central role that B cells play in orchestrating autoimmune cascade in patients with MS, epitope spreading in early MS, microglial control of astrocytes in response to microbial metabolites, the key role of Epstein-Bar virus in the pathogenesis of MS... Even more exciting is to see the novel findings being translated into more effective and safer therapies for all forms of MS.
Tell us about your current research project...
The research program that we will pursue with Professor Trevor Kilpatrick and the teams at the Florey Institute, University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital in the course of this fellowship will translate several biological concepts into clinical practice. First, it will develop a method to diagnose and monitor insidious (latent) progression of MS, using clinical information and several promising biomarkers, such as neurofilament light chain, quantitative MRI analysis and cognitive profiling. It will assess the utility of this information for treatment decisions. Our study will further explore the interaction between relevant genes - MERTK and HLA-DRB1 - with the latent MS progression. Further, the study will assess the ability of the currently used MS therapies to slow or abolish the subclinical progression of MS and thus avert overt and permanent disability later. This research will develop and translate a method to characterise activity of the innate immune system in the central nervous system of people with MS. Finally, the program will advance development a new therapy for MS progression, with a defined path to its translation into an in-human clinical trial.
Why is your research important and how will it influence the understanding and treatment of MS?
Insidious progression of neurological symptoms and signs is often missed in routine clinical practice. It may be present in patients with relapsing MS, and even among those in the earliest stages of their disease. Accurate detection and measurement of such clinically unrecognised progression will open opportunities for its treatment and thereby prevention of its consequence - an overt and irreversible disability. To this end, our research program will advance research of a promissing novel therapy for progressive MS closer to its clinical testing and eventually application.
What do you enjoy most about working in the lab and what are some of the challenges you face?
I love bringing pieces of knowledge together - whether that is in the form of linking discoveries into new research ideas, working with a wonderful team of brilliant clinicians and researchers, contributing to research initiatives across multiple collaborating teams - often across several countries, or being inspired by patients, their carers and advocates.
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Professor Tomas Kalincik