Pre-clinical Parkinson’s Disease Research Laboratory

This laboratory focuses on understanding the basic cellular functions and the changes in functions of cells that result in the spectrum of Parkinsonian disorders, such as that occurs in, Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s disease dementia and multiple system atrophy.  We are particularly interested in the biology of iron and copper in these diseases and how they interact with alpha-synuclein to produce the wide range of symptoms and pathologies observed within these disorders.

In conjunction with Prana Biotechnology we are able to explore novel compounds that have the potential to move towards novel therapeutics. One compound we helped select has completed pre-clinical testing in the laboratory.  This compound is undergoing toxicology testing, safety trials in humans for this compound are being planned for the near future.

We utilise a number of techniques within the laboratory, such as in vivo mouse models of  disease,  animal behaviour, aseptic surgery, microdialysis, multi-electrode arrays for electrophysiology, cell culture (primary cultures, cell lines), western blot, advance microscopy and  histological work (stereology) utilising  both animal and donated human tissues. The overall aim of this laboratory is to use the cellular knowledge of Parkinsonian disorders to development new therapeutic directions.

PhD student projects are available.

This Laboratory is currently supported by: NHMRC, ARC, Prana Biotechnology, MJ Fox and Shake it up Foundation, Parkinson’s UK and has strong ties with Parkinson’s Victoria.

A glimpse at our research

Does early life exposure to iron represent a risk for Parkinson’s disease?Overcoming the sprouting limit of axons in the brain - using biomaterials for the treatment of Parkinson's disease


Scientists in the Neurodegeneration division interrogate how neurones live, die and can be rescued to improve brain function in degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Motor Neuron Diseases. There is no effective treatment for Motor Neurone Disease and the incidence of Parkinson’s Disease is rising alarmingly in our aging community. Gene abnormalities, energy deprivation, toxic rubbish accumulation and inflammation all contribute to a toxic environment for brain cells. Our teams study these events in animal models and cultured cells, with a view to translating knowledge into new therapies for human patients.

All Labs that operate in this Division

Atomic Pathology LaboratoryCreutzfeldt Jakob Disease Clinical Research GroupMolecular Gerontology LaboratoryMotor Neurone Disease LaboratoryNational Dementia Diagnostics LaboratoryNeurochemistry of Metal IonsNeurogenesis and Neural Transplantation LaboratoryNeuropathology and Neurodegeneration LaboratoryNeuroproteomics and Metalloproteomics LaboratoryNeurotherapeutics LaboratoryParkinson's Disease LaboratoryPre-clinical Parkinson’s Disease Research LaboratoryPresynaptic Physiology Stem Cells and Neural Development LaboratorySteroid Neurobiology LaboratorySynaptic Neurobiology LaboratoryThe Australian Imaging Biomarker and Lifestyle Study (AIBL)