About Associate Professor Mark W Douglas

I am passionate about understanding viruses and the ways they interact with their host, with the aim of developing better treatments.

Dr Douglas is an Infectious Diseases Physician with a strong research interest in the basic pathogenesis of hepatitis C virus (HCV); in particular the interactions between HCV and host metabolism.

Dr Mark Douglas is an Infectious Diseases physician, employed as a Senior Lecturer in Virology and Hepatitis at the Storr Liver Unit, Westmead Millennium Institute.  He is a NHMRC CJ Martin Postdoctoral Fellow, and has recently returned from the MRC Virology Unit in Glasgow to continue his research in Australia. His current research focuses on the basic pathogenesis of metabolic complications of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, particularly the effects of viral proteins on intracellular lipids and insulin resistance. This work employs a combination of molecular virology and cell biology techniques, and includes access to patients and clinical samples through his clinical hepatitis work in Sydney West Area Health Service.

In Glasgow Dr Douglas worked with Dr John McLauchlan, a world expert in hepatitis C virus and cellular lipid droplets, to develop innovative cellular models of HCV-induced steatosis and insulin resistance. He recently published his work in the prestigious journal Traffic, demonstrating redistribution of intracellular lipid droplets in response to HCV core protein expression (Boulant, Douglas et al. 2008 Traffic, IF 6.612). Recent work suggests that this process may be intrinsic to the HCV replication cycle, as well as contributing to the development of steatosis (fatty liver) in patients infected with HCV. As well as the steatosis model he also developed novel models of HCV-induced insulin resistance, and is now working with these at the Storr Liver Unit, in collaboration with overseas groups.

Dr Douglas completed his PhD on herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) in 2004 at the University of Sydney, with Professor Tony Cunningham and Dr Russell Diefenbach, before moving to the UK to commence his postdoctoral work on hepatitis C virus. During his PhD Dr Douglas was the first to demonstrate a direct interaction between a HSV-1 capsid protein and the retrograde molecular motor dynein, which appears to be important for retrograde transport of the virus during infection. (Douglas et al. 2004. J Biol Chem. Vol 279: 28522-30, IF 5.854, CI 29). This interaction has potential applications for neuronal gene therapy as well as for preventive treatment of HSV-1 infections. As an undergraduate he first demonstrated the cell cycle dependence of cytotoxic T lymphocyte recognition of West Nile Virus-infected fibroblasts, due to altered class I MHC expression (Douglas et al. 1994. Immunology Vol 82: 561-570, IF 3.507, CI 18). This dependence may be important for immune evasion of the virus during acute infection.

5 best career publications: (with PubMed ID where available):
Boulant S., Douglas M.W., Moody M., Budkowska A., Targett-Adams P. and McLauchlan J. (2008) Hepatitis C virus core protein induces lipid droplet redistribution in a Microtubule- and Dynein-dependent manner. Traffic, May 16. (Epub ahead of print). (IF 6.612 , PMID: 18489704)
Douglas M.W., Diefenbach R.J., Homa F.L., Miranda-Saksena M., Rixon F.J., Vittone V., Byth K. and Cunningham A.L. (2004) Herpes simplex virus type 1 capsid protein VP26 interacts with dynein light chains RP3 and Tctex1 and plays a role in retrograde cellular transport. Journal of Biological Chemistry 279: 28522-28530 (IF 5.854, CI 31, PMID: 15117959)
Vittone V., Diefenbach E., Triffett D., Douglas M.W., Cunningham A.L. and Diefenbach R.J. (2005) Determination of interactions between tegument proteins of herpes simplex virus type 1. Journal of Virology 79: 9566-9571 (IF 5.178, CI 14, PMID: 16014918)
Douglas M.W., Johnson R.W. and Cunningham A.L. (2004) Comparative Tolerability of Treatments for Postherpetic Neuralgia. Drug Safety 27(15): 1217-33 (IF 3.211, CI 5, PMID: 15588117)
Douglas M.W., Stephens D.P., Burrow J.N.C., Anstey N.M., Talbot K., Currie B.J. (2007) Murray Valley encephalitis in an adult traveller complicated by long term flaccid paralysis: case report and review of the literature. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 101(3): 284-288 (IF 1.665, PMID: 17161855)

Selected publications

For a comprehensive list of Dr Douglas's publicatons, please visit his Sydney Medical School profile page.