MS Biology, Genomics and Prognostics Group

Research Overview

The MS Biology, Genomics and Prognostics (MS-BioGaPs) group is part of the Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Clinical Research Group, and headed by Dr Vilija Jokubaitis.

The team’s research focus is the intersection between clinical outcomes research and laboratory-based science. Our interest lies in understanding the drivers of disease outcomes and their modifiers (clinical, demographic, treatment, environmental, genomic, molecular and cellular).

We primarily focussed on multiple sclerosis, with an additional interest in other neuroimmunological diseases.  Our research includes advanced statistical methodology, genomic and cellular biology research.  A number of opportunities exist for honours students and higher degree students (including Masters and PhD programs).

We offer hands-on training in the neurology and neurobiology of autoimmune diseases, genomic and cellular biology research and analytics of large observational data.

The team's past research projects:

  • long-term multiple sclerosis outcomes in patients treated with injectable immunomodulatory therapies
  • comparative studies of outcomes in patients treated with first- and second-generation disease modifying therapies
  • activity of multiple sclerosis after discontinuation of natalizumab
  • epidemiology and impact of multiple sclerosis relapses
  • definition of disability outcomes in multiple sclerosis
  • phenotypic characterisation of multiple sclerosis



The core of the team's work is based on large observational registries, in particular MSBase, a longitudinal global cohort study of multiple sclerosis, which involves 117 collaborating centres at 35 countries ( The team leads or participates in a number of collaborative research projects with our partners including Karolinska Institute, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge University or University of Basel, as well as industry.


The team's research projects are funded by the National Medical and Health Research Council, Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia, Multiple Sclerosis Society (UK), Biogen and Merck.

Research Publications

  1. Signori A, Izquierdo G, Lugaresi A, et al., Long-term disability trajectories in primary progressive MS patients: A latent class growth analysis. Mult Scler 2017 [Epub ahead of print 1 Apr 2017]
  2. Kalincik T, Brown JWL, Robertson N, et al., Comparison of alemtuzumab with natalizumab, fingolimod, and interferon beta for multiple sclerosis: a longitudinal study. Lancet Neurology 2017; 16(4):271-281.
  3. Spelman T, Meyniel C, Rojas JI et al. Quantifying risk of early relapse in patients with first demyelinating events – prediction in clinical practice.  [In press – accepted September 2016]
  4. Jokubaitis VG & Butzkueven H. A genetic basis for multiple sclerosis severity: red herring or real? Mol Cel Probes 2016; 30(6): 357-365.
  5. Lizak N, Lugaresi A, Alroughani R, et al., Highly active immunomodulatory therapy ameliorates accumulation of disability in moderately advanced and advanced multiple sclerosis. JNNP 2017;88(3):196-203
  6. Lorscheider J, Buzzard K, Jokubaitis V, et al., Defining secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Brain. 2016;139(Pt 9):2395-405.
  7. Jokubaitis VG, Spelman T, Kalincik T, et al., Predictors of long-term disability accrual in relapse-onset multiple sclerosis. Annals of Neurology. 2016; 80(1): 89-100.
  8. Stewart T, Spelman T, Havrdova E, et al., (co-last author Jokubaitis, V). Contribution of different relapse phenotypes to disability in Multiple Sclerosis. Mult Scler. 23(2):266-276.
  9. Mahurkar S, Moldovan M, Sorosina M, et al., Response to Interferon Beta Treatment in Multiple Sclerosis patients - A Genome-wide Association Study. The Pharmacogenomics Journal. 2017;17(4):312-318.
  10. Spelman T, Kalincik T, Jokubaitis V, et al., Comparative efficacy of first-line natalizumab versus IFNb or glatiramer acetate in relapsing MS. Neurology Clinical Practice. 2016; 6(2): 102-15
  11. Kalincik T, Cutter G, Spelman T, Jokubaitis V et al., Defining reliable disability outcomes in multiple sclerosis. Brain 2015; 138(11): 3287-98
  12. Warrender-Sparkes M, Spelman T, Izquierdo G et al., (last author Jokubaitis V). The effect of oral immunomodulatory therapy on treatment uptake and persistence in multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler. 2015; 22(4): 520-32
  13. Jokubaitis V, Spelman T, Kalincik T et al., Predictors of disability worsening in clinically isolated syndrome. Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2015; 2(5): 479-91
  14. He A, Spelman T, Jokubaitis V et al., Comparison of switch to fingolimod or interferon beta/glatiramer acetate in active multiple sclerosis. JAMA Neurol. 2015; 72(4):405-13
  15. Kalincik T, Horakova D, Spelman T, Jokubaitis V et al., Switch to Natalizumab versus fingolimod in active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Ann Neurol. 2015; 77(3): 425-35
  16. Kalincik T, Jokubaitis V, Izquierdo G et al., Comparative effectiveness of glatiramer acetate and interferon beta formulations in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler J. 2015; 21(9): 1159-71
  17. Kalincik T, Buzzard K, Jokubaitis V et al., Risk of relapse phenotype recurrence in multiple sclerosis.  Mult Scler J. 2014; 20(11): 1511-22.
  18. Jokubaitis VG, Li V, Kalincik T et al., Fingolimod after Natalizumab and the risk of short-term relapse. Neurology 2014; 82(14): 1204-11.
  19. Kalincik T, Vivek V, Jokubaitis VG, et al., Sex as a determinant of relapse incidence and progressive course of multiple sclerosis. Brain 2013; 136(12): 3609-3617
  20. Kalincik T, Spelman T, Trojano M, et al., Persistence on therapy and propensity matched outcome comparison of two subcutaneous interferon beta 1a dosages for multiple sclerosis.  PLoSOne. 2013; 8(5): e63480
  21. Jokubaitis VG, Spelman T, Lechner-Scott J, et al., The Australian Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Immunotherapy Study: A prospective, multicentre study of drug utilisation using the MSBase platform. PLoSOne. 2013; 8(3): e59694
  22. Meyniel C, Spelman T, Jokubaitis VG, et al. Country, Sex, EDSS Change and Therapy Choice Independently Predict Treatment Discontinuation in Multiple Sclerosis and Clinically Isolated Syndrome. PLoS One. 2012; 7: e38661.