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IMV Executive Assistant


tel. (612) 624-1926

fax. (612) 625-1108


18-242 Moos Tower
515 Delaware St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

General Questions:

Julie Olson,
Associate Professor

Diag/Biological Sciences, School of Dentistry

Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine

Phone: (612) 626-6304



B.S., University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse

Ph.D., University of Iowa
Post-Doctoral, Northwestern University

Research Interests

My research interest is in the immune response that occurs in the central nervous system (CNS) with two areas of study within this interest. The first area of study examines the role of the CNS resident immune cells, microglia, during the immune response following virus infection, during neurological diseases, or during neuropathic pain in the CNS. My research focuses on the microglia cells which are macrophage type cells which reside in the CNS. The blood brain barrier restricts the infiltration of peripheral immune cells into the CNS until an immune response has been initiated in the CNS by resident cells. Therefore, microglia are the first line of defense against injury, infection, or disease in the CNS. My research examines how microglia respond to infection, disease, or injury; how the response by microglia contributes to the overall immune response; and whether the response is helpful or harmful to the CNS. A focus of this project is to develop agents that can alter the immune response by microglia to be used as a therapeutic strategy for treatment of neurological diseases. My second area of study in neuroimmunology is the role of virus infection on the development and progression of autoimmune disease in the CNS. Specifically, we study a virus-induced model of multiple sclerosis (MS) in mice. MS is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system in humans that is associated with an inflammatory immune response. Strong epidemiological evidence suggests that virus infections play a role in disease development as well as disease progression. My studies utilize a mouse model of virus-induced MS, Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV). TMEV infection of mice results in the development of an autoimmune mediated demyelinating disease beginning with clinical symptoms around 35 days post infection with a chronic progression in severity, eventually leading to ascending paralysis and death. My research focuses on the role of the innate immune response in the development and progression of the autoimmune response and disease. We have demonstrated that the innate immune response initiated following virus infection plays a critical role in development and progression of the autoimmune demyelinating disease, and we are developing possible therapies based on the innate immune response which when administered to mice diminish the development and progression of the demyelinating disease.

Selected Recent Publications

  • Hall, S.D., E.A. Thompson, and J.K. Olson. 2013. Innate immune response affects the development and progression of Theiler's virus- induced demyelinating disease. J. Neurovirol. In Press.

  • Bowen, J.L. and J.K. Olson. 2013. IFN-gamma influences type I interferon response and susceptibility to Theiler's virus-induced demyelinating disease. Virol Immunol. 26(4):223-38

  • Y-P Liu, L. Zeng, A. Tian, A. Bomkamp, D. Rivera, D. Gutman, G.N. Barber, J.K. Olson, J. A. Smith. 2012. Endoplasmic reticulum stress regulates the innate immunity critical transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 3. J. Immunol.189:4630-4369.

  • Spanier, J.A.,F.E. Nashold, J.K. Olson, and C.E. Hayes. 2012. IFN gene is essential for VDR gene expression and vitamin D3 mediated reduction of the pathogenic T cell burden in the central nervous system in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a multiple sclerosis model. J. Immunol. 189(6):3188-97.

  • Schomberg, D. and J.K.Olson. 2011. Immune response by microglia during neuropathic pain. Exp. Neurol.234:262-270.

  • Olson, J.K. 2010. Role of microglia in the immune response in the spinal cord. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1198:271-278

  • Liu, Y., D.B. Kintner, V. Chanana, J. Algharabli, X. Chen, Y. Gao, P. Ferrazzano, J.K. Olson, D. Sun. 2010. Activation of microglia depends on Na+/H+ exchange- mediated H+ homeostasis. J. Neurosci. 30:15210-15220.

  • Bowen, J.L. and J.K. Olson. 2009. Innate immune CD11b+Gr-1+ cells, suppressor cells, affect the immune response during Theiler's virus-induced demyelinating disease. J Immunol. 2009 Dec 1;183(11):6971-80.

  • Olson, J.K. and S.D. Miller. 2009. The innate immune response affects the development of the autoimmune response during TMEV- induced demyelinating disease. J. Immunol. 2009 May 1;182(9):5712-22.


Featured News & Events

'Wisc-e-sota', a Joint UMN-UW Virology Training Grant Symposium was first held on Friday, Sepbember 20th, 2013 at the Uniiversity of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Cartwright Center. This was the inaugural collaborative symposium of the NIH T32-supported virology training programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Talks and poster sessions were presented by students, postdocs and faculty. The second UMN-UW Virology Training Grant Symposium will be held in the Fall 2014. Details to follow.

The 2014 IMV Symposium will be held on May 12, 2014 and Mark Denison (Vanderbilt) and Bert Semler (UC-Irvine) will be the Keynote Speakers. Click on the link below to register and submit abstracts.

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Read about bacteriophage phi 29 and why it matters.

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Explore nearly a century's worth of discovery in the field of virology at the University of Minnesota.


"This Week in Virology" from professor Vincent Racaniello.