Dr Johanna Barclay

Honorary Fellow

Mater Research Institute-UQ
Faculty of Medicine

Overview

Since the completion of my PhD in 2007 I have pursued a research career with a focus on endocrinology and metabolism. In doing this, I have worked within many exceptional research institutes, including the prestigious Max Planck Institute in Germany. Since returning to Australia in 2013 I have endeavoured to build a clinical focus to my research, enabled by my location within the Translational Research Institute with close ties to both the Mater Hospital and the Princess Alexander Hospital. I currently hold a position which encompasses research, teaching and clinical research facilitation.

A focus of my research has been the role of glucocorticoids in metabolic regulation. My work on the circadian clock explored glucocorticoids as synchronising agents, and their ability to reset perturbations in metabolic rhythms in order to maintain homeostasis. My subsequent work characterised the role glucocorticoids have in the development and function of human brown and white adipose tissue, culminating in a publication which was ranked in the top 10 articles for the journal in 2015. The current focus of my work is the development of a biomarker panel which reflects an individual’s glucocorticoid response to better diagnose and treat disorders of the pituitary and adrenal, and to better prescribe glucocorticoid therapy for inflammatory conditions. This work has yielded 2 publications to date, both focussed on thrombospondin 1 as a candidate glucocorticoid-responsive biomarker. The focus of this application is to extend this work so as to attract industry partnerships, develop and validate a clinically useful test, and translate this important research into clinical practise for improved patient outcomes.

Research Interests

  • Characterisation of glucocorticoid-responsive proteins for the assessment and treatment of pituitary and adrenal disorders and inflammatory disease
    A current focus of my work is the development of a biomarker panel which reflects an individual’s glucocorticoid response to better diagnose and treat disorders of the pituitary and adrenal, and to better prescribe glucocorticoid therapy for inflammatory conditions.
  • Obesity-induced Barrett’s oesophagus and associated cancer
    Oesophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer and has a poor 5 year-survival rate of less than 14%. Of the two main subtypes of oesophageal cancer, oesophageal adenocarcinoma has been rapidly increasing over the past three decades in western countries. The only known precursor condition to oesophageal adenocarcinoma is Barrett’s oesophagus, a common precancerous change of the oesophageal lining which increases cancer risk 30-60 fold. Obesity and chronic heartburn are strongly implicated in the development of Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal adenocarcinoma, however, there is currently little known about this. This aim of this study is to develop a pre-clinical model of obesity-related Barrett’s oesophagus to study this disease and devise better diagnostic methods.

Research Impacts

The current focus of my work is the development of a biomarker panel which reflects an individual’s glucocorticoid response to better diagnose and treat disorders of the pituitary and adrenal, and to better prescribe glucocorticoid therapy for inflammatory conditions. Approximately 1% of Australians are on long term glucocrticoid therapy, this equates to almost a quarter of a million Australians taking glucocorticoid medications. When used in pharmacological doses (>5 mg per day of prednisolone or equivalent), glucocorticoids are potent anti-inflammatory agents and also have anti-neoplastic and immunosuppressive properties. Examples of conditions where systemic glucocorticoids are used in pharmacological doses span many medical sub-specialties. Glucocorticoids in excessive dose can result in serious side effects such as weight gain, diabetes, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, marked bruising, prominent striae, cataracts and hypertension. Thus, a validated glucocorticoid biomarker measurable in human blood specimens would have a major impact on clinical practice across a range of medical specialties.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Hons), Queensland University of Technology

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • This project aims to development of a biomarker panel which reflects an individual’s glucocorticoid response to better diagnose and treat disorders of the pituitary and adrenal, and to better prescribe glucocorticoid therapy for inflammatory conditions. This is clinical research project, working closely with consultants, registrars and research nurses in the identification of appropriate particiants, the collection and processing of samples and the testing of samples.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Barclay, Johanna L., Leliavski, Alexei and Oster, Henrik (2012). Circadian clocks and eating disorders. In Luka Golovkin and Alexei Maliszkewicz (Ed.), Circadian rhythms: biology, cognition and disorders (pp. 1-27) New York, NY United States: Nova Science Publishers.

  • Barclay, Johanna L., Tsang, Anthony H. and Oster, Henrik (2012). Interaction of central and peripheral clocks in physiological regulation. In Andries Kalsbeek, Martha Merrow, Till Roenneberg and Russell G. Foster (Ed.), The Neurobiology of Circadian Timing (pp. 163-181) Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier Science. doi:10.1016/B978-0-444-59427-3.00030-7

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Barclay, Johanna L., Petersons, Carolyn J., Keshvari, Sahar, Sorbello, Jane, Mangelsdorf, Brenda L., Thompson, Campbell H., Prins, Johannes B., Burt, Morton G., Whitehead, Jonathan P. and Inder, Warrick (2016). Thrombospondin-1 is a glucocorticoid responsive protein and potential biomarker of glucocorticoid activity. In: Annual Scientific Meeting of the Endocrine-Society-of-Australia, Adelaide, Australia, (26-26). 23-26 August 2015.

  • Ishikawa, M., Barclay, J. L., Brooks, A. J., McPhee, T. R., Yoshino, G. and Waters, M. J. (2012). Hepatic IGF-I production is regulated by Kupffer cells. In: Sixth International Congress of the GRS and the IGF Society, Munich, Germany, (). 17-20 October 2012. doi:10.1016/S1096-6374(12)60056-2

  • Ishikawa, M., McPhee, T. R., Barclay, J. L., Fernandez-Rojo, M., Brooks, A. J. and Waters, M. J. (2010). Role of growth hormone signaling pathways in liver regeneration. In: Program and Abstracts of the Fifth International congress of the GRS and the IGF Society. Fifth International congress of the GRS and the IGF Society, New York, NY, United States, (S3-S4). 3-7 October. doi:10.1016/S1096-6374(10)70011-3

  • Saxton, N., Barclay, J. and Fawcett, J. (2000). CyA, a potential therapy for ischaemia/reperfusion injury. In: David Carr-Locke and Robin Williamson, HPB Journal of the International Hepato Pancreato Biliary Assoc. IHPBA, Brisbane, (236-236). 29-31 May 2000.

  • Barclay, J., Saxton, N. and Fawcett, J. (1999). Inhibition of apoptosis by CYA pre-treatment in the rat liver ischaemia/reperfusion injury model. In: The Surgical Research Society of Australiasia Annual Scientific Meeting. , Cairns International Hotel, (7). 23-25 Sept, 1999.

  • Saxton, N., Barclay, J., Clouston, A. D. and Fawcett, J. (1999). The effect of anti-TNF-alpha treatment in the rat liver ischaemia/reperfusion model. In: Immunology & Cell Biology. Transplantation Society of Australia/New Zealand Annual Scientific Meeting, Canberra, (A13). 14-16 Jun, 1999.

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • This project aims to development of a biomarker panel which reflects an individual’s glucocorticoid response to better diagnose and treat disorders of the pituitary and adrenal, and to better prescribe glucocorticoid therapy for inflammatory conditions. This is clinical research project, working closely with consultants, registrars and research nurses in the identification of appropriate particiants, the collection and processing of samples and the testing of samples.