Dr Judith Greer

Email: j.greer@uq.edu.au

Dr Judith Greer is a graduate of the University of Queensland who completed her PhD on cancer immunology in the laboratory of Prof Bill Halliday in 1991. She then undertook postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School in the USA, where, under the tutelage of Prof Marjorie Lees, her interests shifted towards the nervous system, particularly the neurochemical and immunological properties of the most abundant protein of central nervous system myelin, myelin proteolipid protein (PLP). Dr Greer was then awarded the Elizabeth Albiez Research Fellowship from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia to return to Australia and begin her independent research career in the Neuroimmunology Research Unit of the School of Medicine, working on the specificity of autoimmune responses in multiple sclerosis. In 2008 she moved to the new UQ Centre for Clinical Research to continue work on immune-mediated disease in the nervous system.
Dr Greer is interested in research training, and since 2001 has been the Postgraduate Coordinator for the Central Clinical Division of the School of Medicine. She has also been closely involved with the Australasian Society for Immunology for the last 12 years, and developed and maintains websites for them (www.immunology.org.au) and the Federation of Immunological Societies of Asia-Oceania (www.fimsa.org).

Research Projects

Greer_research_An oligodendrocyte, the myelin-producing cell of the central nervous systemDr Greer's research focuses on diseases affecting the nervous system, particularly those in which the immune response plays (or may play) a role. The major focus of the lab is multiple sclerosis (MS). In particular, the aims are to identify brain components that are targetted by the immune system in people with MS, to determine how immune responses within the nervous system relate to the symptoms experienced by people with MS, and to develop new ways to specifically turn off the damaging immune responses in the brain. Much of her work still focuses on PLP. The work on MS is done in close collaboration with the MS Clinic at the Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital, which is directed by Prof Michael Pender, and in collaboration with the laboratory of peptide chemist Dr Elisabeth Trifilieff in Strasbourg, France.

In collaboration with Assoc Prof Pamela McCombe, we are alsGreer_research_demyelination in the spinal cord(*) in MSo investigating immune activation after a person has had a stroke, and whether this activation of the immune system is beneficial or harmful to the patient.

In addition, in collaboration with Prof Bryan Mowry, we are investigating whether some people with schizophrenia make an autoimmune response directed against components of the neurotransmitter receptors in the brain.

Techniques used in the laboratory include:

• In vitro culture of human and animal cells and testing in immunological assays, including proliferation, cytokine secretion, cell activation, flow cytometry, ELISA, ELISPOT
• Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; in vivo assessment of specific immunomodulatory agents
• Histological analysis of brain tissues, including immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy.
• Proteomic approaches to study brain proteins, including affinity and size-exclusion chromatography, 1D & 2D gels, Western blotting, protein purification
• Molecular Biological approaches including HLA typing, RT-PCR, RNase protection assays, DNA sequencing

Key publications

Greer JM, Csurhes PA, Muller DM and Pender MP. 2008. Correlation of blood T-cell and antibody reactivity to myelin proteins with HLA type and lesion localization in multiple sclerosis. Journal of Immunology. 180(9):6402-10.
Pfender NA, Grosch S, Roussel G, Koch M, Trifilieff E and Greer JM. 2008. The type of bond between lipid chain and peptide determines the route of uptake of palmitoylated PLP encephalitogenic peptides by antigen-presenting cells. Journal of Immunology. 180(3):1398-1404.
Yan J, Greer JM, Read SJ, Etherington K, Cadigan G, Cavanagh H, Henderson RD, O'Sullivan JD, McCombe PA. 2009. Increased activated T cells in patients after acute ischemic stroke. Journal of Neuroimmunology 206(1-2):112-7.
Greer JM, Pender MP. 2005. The presence of glutamic acid at positions 71 or 74 in pocket 4 of the HLA-DRbeta1 chain is associated with the clinical course of multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 76(5):656-62.
Greer JM, Denis B, Sobel RA, Trifilieff E. 2001. Thiopalmitoylation of myelin proteolipid protein epitopes enhances immunogenicity and encephalitogenicity. Journal of Immunology. 166(11):6907-13

Greer JM, Pender MP. 2008. Myelin proteolipid protein: An effective autoantigen and target of autoimmunity in multiple sclerosis. Journal of Autoimmunity 31(3):281-7.

Contact details and email

Dr Judith Greer
Contact: j.greer@uq.edu.au
Tel: (+61-7) 3346 6018

Group Members

Research Staff

Greer_Group_L to R: Pam McCombe, Vibeke Catts, Shannon Beasley, Casey Pfluger, Evan Sauer, Nancy Moxey, Judith Greer, Peter Csurhes, Hayley Inglis, Jun Yan, Amanda Jones

• Dr Jun Yan - Senior Postdoctoral scientist
• Peter Csurhes - Senior Research
• Casey Pfluger - Research Assistant
• Kaye Hooper - Research Nurse

Research students and their research topics

• Evan (Leif) Sauer (PhD scholar): Study of potential therapuetic agents in multiple sclerosis
• Diane Muller (PhD scholar): Neuropathological and neuroimmunological studies of axial-rotatory experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
• Amanda Jones (PhD scholar): Autoimmunity in schizophrenia
• Shannon Beasley (PhD scholar): The characterisation and response of myelin specific antibodies from MS patients directed against oligodendrocytes and their precursors
• Meng Tan (PhD scholar): Neuronal voltage-gated potassium channel and voltage-gated sodium channel autoimmunity
• Nancy Moxey (PhD scholar): Study of myelin genes in MS.

Funding acknowledgement

Funding provided from
• MS Research Australia


• Prof Michael Pender, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland
• Dr Elisabeth Trifilieff, Universite Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France
• Assoc Prof Pamela McCombe, UQ-CCR, The University of Queensland
• Prof Bryan Mowry, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, The University of Queensland
• Dr Robyn Wallace, Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland