Seed funds for promising early stage neuroscience projects


Congratulations to Dr. Juliana Silva and Dr. Ana Antonic-Baker from the Department of Neuroscience at Central Clinical School (CCS) who each received a seed grant worth $25,000 to pursue new collaborations and research projects. research.

The Department of Neuroscience launched its inaugural “Find a Friend” initiative in late 2021 to provide funding for two early-career researchers or late-career (final year) doctoral students to undertake a small research project ( pilot) over 12 months.

Applicants were invited to submit a project for consideration, which would enhance innovative and collaborative research from different research groups and/or departments within the CCS. The Department received 10 applications, all very interesting and original – making the decision of the evaluators very difficult.

Dr. Juliana Silva (Epilepsy and Behavior Research Group), in collaboration with Dr. Olaf Perdijk (Department of Immunology and Pathology) will harness the gut-brain axis to explore the potential of a novel ketogenic diet as a therapy to prevent the development of seizures and epilepsy in people with Alzheimer’s disease. People with Alzheimer’s disease have an increased risk of developing epilepsy, and about 10-20% will have at least one unprovoked seizure. Researchers will use an Alzheimer’s mouse model known as 5xFAD to explore the effects of the ketogenic diet on the composition of the gut microbiome and the metabolites that are released to produce a neuroprotective effect in the brain, reducing seizures and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. ‘epilepsy.

Dr Silva said: “I am delighted to receive my first research fellowship with Dr Olaf Perdijk to pursue this project. Thank you to the ministry for providing such a great and important initiative for early career researchers to launch their research careers. We look forward to starting work on this project soon. »

Dr. Ana Antonic-Baker (Stem Cells Group, Department of Neuroscience) with Dr. Bianca Jupp (PET-CT ARA-MBI Senior Scientist and Group Leader, Addiction and Impulsivity Laboratory, Department of Neuroscience) and Dr. Karen Alt (Group Leader, Nanotheranostics Research Group, ACBD) will develop and validate the use of iron oxide nanoparticles to track the long-term integration of human neural progenitor cells following transplantation into mouse brains using magnetic particle imaging (MPI). The results will be useful in demonstrating the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapies for the treatment of neurological diseases. MPI is a breakthrough technology offering significantly improved sensitivity and temporal resolution compared to other modalities, is non-invasive, and is faster than MRI and PET imaging.

Dr Antonic-Baker said: “I would like to thank Professor Helmut Butzkueven and the Department of Neuroscience for giving me the opportunity to embark on this exciting new collaboration with Dr Bianca Jupp and Dr Karen Alt. This funding will allow us to generate exciting preliminary data that will form the basis of many future collaborative projects between the Department of Neuroscience and the Australian Blood Diseases Centre.

Last year, the Alfred Research Alliance-Monash Biomedical Imaging (ARA-MBI) platform launched a magnetic particle imaging system funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council, with contributions from Monash University and from RMIT University (see press article).

Laureates will not only gain skills in developing collaborative partnerships, but will also build their careers as expert researchers in their field and use the results of their projects to enable greater funding opportunities.

Professor Helmut Butzkueven, Head of the Department of Neuroscience, said: “This new initiative is one of the first for our department since its launch in 2018, thanks to the continued generous support of the Van Cleef/Roet Foundation. Through a comprehensive departmental planning process, we identified the need for early career researchers to access seed grants.

“We also want to encourage new collaborations within the Central Clinical School. On behalf of the leadership and administration group, I am very pleased that we can support three talented early career female neuroscience researchers to launch new and exciting We are very sorry for all the applicants who missed out, as we were only able to fund 2 applications out of 10. The choice was very difficult, because the quality was so high in all areas.


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