Student Projects

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Mental Health

Dissecting the genetic basis of clinical heterogeneity and differences in treatment response in patients with depression

Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory: This project will characterise the genetic architecture that underlies variation in both symptom profiles and treatment response across patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). This will be achieved by applying a set of computational and statistical approaches to the analysis of a recently collected dataset of ~20,000 Australian MDD patients who have answered a comprehensive online questionnaire and provided saliva samples for DNA profiling.

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Investigating blood-brain barrier mediated drug delivery in neurodegenerative diseases

PhD project but may also be considered for Honours project The blood-brain barrier (BBB) lines the walls of brain microvessels, and is critical in preventing the entry of toxic molecules into the brain and enhancing the uptake of nutrients. The BBB is formed by brain endothelial cells (BECs), pericytes and neural cells (neurons and astrocytes) […]

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Olfactory stem cells for investigating the causes and progression of dementia

Background: With no clinical success yet achieved from amyloid-targeting strategies, there is an urgent need to gain new insights and develop effective treatments for people who have dementia. New stem cell-based approaches have generated much ex-citement in dementia research with the potential to study patient-derived neurons and supporting cells. However the commonly used ‘pluripotent’ stem […]

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Generating Alzheimer’s microglia for testing patient responses to immune-modulating compounds

Alzheimer’s disease is anticipated to affect 100 million patients with an annual cost of US$1 trillion by 2050. Promising amyloid-clearing therapies have failed to translate to clinical outcomes, and new approaches targeting the underlying molecular pathways of Alzheimer’s disease are urgently required. There has been a ‘re-awakening’ to the critical role of microglia in Alzheimer’s […]

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Generating patient-derived microglia to investigate neuroinflammation in MND

This project will build important new tools for understanding the role of the immune system in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neuron disease (MND). Inflammatory responses by resident brain and spinal cord immune cells (microglia) have an important role in ALS/MND and are key targets for therapy. Until now, research on microglia […]

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Development of metal-based therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases

PhD project but may also be considered for an Honours project Biological trace elements, also known as trace minerals, or biometals include copper, zinc, iron, selenium and manganese. These and other biometals have essential roles in many areas of brain function including energy metabolism, transcription factor activity, antioxidant regulation and synaptic signalling. During ageing and […]

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3D Alzheimer’s disease ‘brain on a chip’

PhD project but may also be considered for an Honours project Alzheimer’s dementia is a rapidly growing health issue for Australia and worldwide with an expected 136 million cases by 2050. The disease is characterized by accumulation of amyloid peptide and phosphorylated tau microtubule protein in the brain, together with an abnormal inflammatory response and […]

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Identifying individuals at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Background: Dementia affects an estimated 353,800 Australians, with up to 80% being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Despite a major research effort, an effective treatment is not available. The pathogenic process of AD begins decades prior to the clinical onset, so it is likely that treatments need to begin early in the disease process to […]

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Integrating genomic data to characterise inherited risk factors for mental health disorders

PhD project but may also be considered for an Honours project Background: Mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders, afflict around half of the population at some point in their lives and account for a substantial proportion of the global burden of disease. Recently, significant progress has been made in identifying genetic […]

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