The Neurodegeneration division has five research areas – Parkinson’s disease, Motor Neurone disease, Neuropharmacology, Steroid Neurobiology and Stem Cell Therapies.

A number of neurodegenerative disorders are characterised by abnormal aggregation of protein in the cell and associated disturbance of synaptic function. In the case of Parkinson’s disease (PD) the relevant molecule is α-synuclein and a leading hypothesis is that dopamine itself contributes to this aggregation and thus to the genesis of PD. We have developed a mouse that models some of the events that lead to α-synuclein aggregation and our current studies are directed at exploiting this model.

In the case of motor neuron disease, SOD-1 is the offending protein. In previous work carried out, our research team has shown that accumulation of SOD-1 results from a secretary failure and that protein disulphide isomerase plays an important role in ameliorating this effect. It appears that secretion of SOD-1 may play a part in normal cell life but also in causing disease. It also appears that α-synuclein may be secreted and we are examining the potential to examine this as a biomarker as well as a partner in causing disease.

The Neuropharmacology laboratory focuses its activities on understanding the injury processes that contribute to acute and chronic degeneration within in the brain. Various mechanisms, including excitotoxicity, oxidative stress and inflammation appear to underlie the patholologic chain of events occurring in ischemic-hypoxic conditions, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a form of motor neuron disease). Glial cells are also intimately involved in the maintenance of normal synaptic transmission and during brain injury become activated, changing their phenotype and energetics, and synthesising inflammatory and trophic factors.

Research in stem cell therapy has found that by replacing damaged or injured neurons by transplanting stem cells can lead to an exciting prospect for a future therapy. Stem cells can divide, and are thus a potentially limitless source of new cells.They can also be instructed to become a particular cell type, such as a dopamine neuron (the degenerating cells in PD). This group aims to use these two capabilities to produce cells that can at least partially restore function after disease or trauma.

Collaborative Links


Prof Phillip Nagley
Department of Biochemistry, Monash University, Melbourne
Mitochondrial contributions to neuronal injury

Prof Rod Devenish
Department of Biochemistry, Monash University, Melbourne
Autophagy and mitochondria in neuronal injury

Dr Nicole Jones
Department of Pharmacology, University of NSW
Preconditioning the brain and cytoprotection

Prof David Pow
Department of Anatomy, University of Queensland
Cellular localisation of glutamate transporters

Dr Steve Cheung
Menzies Research Institute, University of Tasmania
Transcriptomic analyses of genes in neuronal injury

Prof Sheila Crewther
School of Psychological Sciences, La Trobe University
Retinal oxygen and hypoxic inducible factor

Jim Stankovitch
Menzies Institute
Genetics of Parkinsons disease

Prof Paul Gleeson
Department of Biochemistry, University of Melbourne
SOD1 secretion

Prof Philip Nagley
Department of Biochemistry, Monash University
a-synuclein secretion, Mitochondrial function and apoptosis signalling in relation to motor neuron disease

Prof Myles Prince
Peter McCallum Cancer Institute, Melbourne
a-synuclein secretion

Dr Andrew Hill
BIO21 Institute, Melbourne University
Exosome function in Motor Neurone Disease

Dr John Forsythe
Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University
Biomaterials and scaffolds

Collin Pouton
Monash University
Cell based therapies for Parkinson’s Disease

Dr Phillip Dickson
University of Newcastle
Tyrosine hydroxylase phosphorylation

Maarten van den Buuse
Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria
Title: Oestrogen and behavior

Qiao-Xin Li
Department of Pathology, The University of Melbourne
Title: NMDA receptors, apoptosis and neurodegeneration

Evan Simpson
Prince Henry’s Institute
Project: Roles of oestrogens in obesity and diabetes

Jeffery Zajac
Department of Medicine, Austin Health, University of Melbourne
Project: Roles of androgens in the brain and on behaviour

Bruce Tonge and Nicole Rinehart
Centre for Developmental Psychiatry & Psychology, Monash University
Project: Roles of sex hormones in Autism


Prof Arne Schousboe
Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Denmark
Analyses of the roles of glutamate transporters

Prof Niels Danbolt
Department of Anatomy, University of Oslo, Norway
Cellular localisation of glutamate transporters

Dr Thelma Lovick
Department of Physiology, University of Birmingham, UK
Cholecystokinin receptors in pain and analgesia

Dr Marcus Rattray
University of Reading, Reading, UK
Molecular neurobiology of glutamate transporters

Prof Gerald Shaw
University of Florida
a-synuclein secretion

Allan E. Herbison
Department of Physiology, School of Medical Science University of Otago, New Zealand
Project: Oestrogen and kisspeptins

Dr Bruno Cauli
Laboratoire de Neurobiologie et Diversité Cellulaire, ESPCI, France
Single cell multiplex PCR

Dr Yifat Prut
Department of Physiology, Hebrew University, Israel
Functional properties of spinocerebellar neurons in the cervical enlargement of primates performing voluntary movement

Anders Bjorklund
Dept. of Experimental Medical Science Lund University 
Cell and Gene Therapy for Parkinson’s disease

Deniz Kirik
Dept. of Experimental Medical Science Lund University
Cell and Gene Therapy for Parkinson’s disease

Prof. Tomas Hökfelt
Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
Regulating neurogenesis in the adult brain

Dr Kevin Talbot
University of Oxford, UK

Prof Dame Kay Davies
University of Oxford, UK

Prof Evan Snyder
Burnham Institute for Medical Research, USA
Cell based therapies for Parkinson’s Disease