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Associate Professor Merrill Rowley

Senior Research Fellow, Autoimmunity Laboratory

[Colour Photo of Rowley]

+61 - 3 9905 1438

+61 - 3 9905 4699


Research Interests:

Human autoimmune disease and the role of autoantibodies in disease pathogenesis with particular emphasis on rheumatoid arthritis, primary biliary cirrhosis and insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Basic and commercially-oriented research in the cause of autoimmune diseases, and the development of tests for the diagnosis of preclinical disease.

Research Links:

Molecular analysis of autoimmune diseases
Functional aspects of antibodies to collagen

Autoimmunity Group:

The Autoimmunity Laboratory was established at Monash University in 1987 by Dr Ian Mackay and Dr Merrill Rowley to research biochemical and serological aspects and pathogenesis of autoimmune disorders. The laboratory conducts both fundamental research on the nature of autoimmunity and the mechanism of pathogenesis of immune mediated disease, and applied research in collaboration with biotechnology groups designed to develop better immunodiagnostic assays and treatments. Diseases presently studied include insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis and primary biliary cirrhosis.

For this it employs and has developed a wide range of advanced techniques in cell biology, molecular biology, immunology and genetics. The group has extensive national collaborations and close international links with research groups in Europe, Asia and the USA. The Laboratory has published over 100 scientific manuscripts on autoimmune disorders, including more than 50 on diabetes, and has attracted numerous Research Grants and Biotechnology Funding, and supports graduate students and international scientists.

Representative Publications:

  1. Law RPH, Rowley MJ, Mackay IR, Corner B. (1998) Expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae of antigenically and enzymatically active recombinant glutamic acid decarboxylase. J Biotechnology 61: 57-68
  2. Davies JM, Scealy M, Cai Y-P, Whisstock J, Mackay IR, Rowley MJ. (1999) Multiple alignment and sorting of peptides derived from phage displayed random peptide libraries with polyclonal sera allows discrimination of relevant phagotopes. Molecular Immunology, 36, 659-667
  3. Cook AD, Stockman A, Brand CA, Tait BD, Mackay IR, Muirden KD, Bernard CCA, Rowley MJ. (1999) Antibodies to type II collagen and HLA-disease susceptibility markers in rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 42, 2569-2576
  4. Konigs C, Rowley MJ, Thompson P, Myers M, Scealy M, Davies J, Wu L, Mackay CR, Mackay IR. (2000) Monoclonal antibody screening of a phage displayed random peptide library revals mimotopes of chemoskine receptor CCR5 with implications for the tertiary structure of the receptor and inhibition of macrophage tropic HIV-1 infection. Eur J Immunol 30: 1162-1171
  5. Kasimiotis H, Myers MA, Argentaro A, Mertin S, Fida S, Ferraro T, Olsson J, Rowley MJ, Harley VR (2000) The SRY-related protein, SOX13, is a diabetes autoantigen expressed in pancreatic islets. Diabetes 49:555-561
  6. Jensen, W.A., Jois, J., Murphy, P., DeGeorgio, J., Brown, B., Rowley, M.J., and Mackay, I.R. (2000) Automated Enzymatic Mitochondrial Antibody Assay for Primary Biliary Cirrhosis. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, 38:753-758
  7. Rowley M.J., Scealy, M., Whisstock, J.C., Jois J.A., Wijeyewickreme L., Mackay I.R. (2000) Prediction of the immunodominant epitope of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex-E2 (PDC-E2) in primary biliary cirrhosis using phage display. Journal of Immunology 164:3413-3419
  8. Myers, M.A., Davies, J.M., Whisstock, J., Scealy, M., Mackay, I.R., and Rowley, M.J. (2000) Conformational Epitopes on the Diabetes Autoantigen GAD65 Identified by Peptide Phage-Display and Molecular Mimicry. Journal of Immunology, 165:3830-3838
  9. Myers M, Mackay IR, Rowley MJ, Zimmet PZ. (2001) Dietary microbial toxins and type 1 diabetes - a new meaning for seed and soil. Diabetologia 44:1199-200
  10. Ikuno N, Scealy M, Davies JM, Whittingham SF, Omagari K, Mackay IR, Rowley MJ. (2001) A comparative study of antibody expressions in primary biliary cirrhosis and autoimmune cholangitis using phage display. Hepatology 34: 478-86.
  11. Tong JC, Mackay IR, Chin J, Law RH, Fayad K, Rowley MJ (2002) Enzymatic characterization of a recombinant isoform hybrid of glutamic acid decarboxylase (rGAD67/65) expressed in yeast. Journal of Biotechnology 97:183-90.
  12. Mackay IR, Whittingham SF, Fida S, Myers M, Ikuno N, Gershwin ME, Rowley MJ (2000) The peculiar autoimmunity of primary biliary cirrhosis. Immunological Reviews 174: 226-237
The epitope of the pyruvate dehydrogenase enzyme complex that is the major autoantigen in primary biliary cirrhosis., as predicted using phage display

J Immunol (2000) 164:3413-9