Meet The Researcher

Dr Stefan Blum

Dr Stefan Blum

The University of Queensland, QLD

Let’s get started! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself...
I was born and raised in Germany and never thought I would end up in Australia! I came over to Australia for a year of work experience, with a clear plan to move back to Germany after this. 15 years later, I am still here. It’s just too nice here…
What inspired you to get involved in MS research?
I have been interested in immunology since my days as a medical student, when I did a doctoral thesis in immunology. During my training in neurology I was again interested in the interaction of the immune system and the brain and have specialised in this area both clinically and in my research interests.
What do you think has been the most exciting development in MS research?
Clearly this has to be the translation of our understanding of the immune system to the huge variety of novel MS therapies that have become available in recent years. This is impacting people living with MS enormously and will very likely markedly influence prognosis.
Tell us about your current research project...
White blood cells can enter in and out of peoples brains. While this is normal in all humans, the white blood cells can cause inflammation in some people, such as MS. Natalizumab blocks this movement and is used to treat patients with MS. Our project seeks to understand and measure this blocking effect of Natalizumab.
Why is your research important and how will it influence the understanding and treatment of MS?
With this method, we can see how long Natalizumab works after the drug is given. This is of importance, as we can assure that the treatment is still effective, even if infusions are spaced out or after therapy has been stopped. MS can flare up when the medication is not given for longer periods of time as white blood cells can again enter the brain. On the other hand, it is often attempted to space out infusions as much as possible to minimise the risk of side effects.
What do you enjoy most about working in the lab and what are some of the challenges you face?
Working as a neurologist frequently confronts us with situations where no one quite knows the best course of action. I am working in a field of neurology that is rapidly changing and where many aspects of disease are unknown. Learning about and understanding how disease works and what the best therapies are is therefore very important for my daily clinical practise. This is frequently challenging as learning about the complexities of disease requires complex approaches in research. I enjoy working with many people in and beyond my group of colleagues trying to tackle these challenges.

Previous Research Project

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Stefan Blum