Australasian Neuroscience Society 2019 meeting

Two Perron Institute PhD candidates were the only students representing Western Australia invited to give platform talks at the annual meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS) in Adelaide earlier this month.

Craig McIntosh from the Molecular Therapies Research group based at Murdoch University, presented research on an incurable neurodegenerative disease called spinocerebellar ataxia type 3. In a cell system, Craig showed he could mitigate the disease causing protein and potentially provide a treatment for the disease.

Darren Clarke (pictured) from the Neurotrauma Research group presented his latest findings exploring the effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on astrocytes, supportive cells in the nervous system. Darren showed data suggesting that some beneficial effects of rTMS in neurotrauma may be due to astrocyte modulation, and improved patient outcomes may be achieved by also considering astrocytes when implementing rTMS as a therapy.

Astrocytes, which are star-shaped cells, perform various roles, among them regulating the transmission of electrical impulses within the brain.

Darren was the only student who provided a presentation with a direct focus on neurotrauma. He was one of many students supported by a Neurotrauma Research Program (NRP) travel scholarship to attend the conference. Other students supported by the NRP funding travel scholarships were PhD students Megan Bakeberg, Jessica Moretti, Anastazja Gorecki, Lauren Hennessy and Honours student, Eden Ouliel.

Professor Lindy Fitzgerald, head of Neurotrauma Research at the Perron Institute and Curtin University, co-chaired a NHMRC Grant System Workshop, and institute collaborator Associate Professor Kaylene Young (University of Tasmania), chaired the ANS Plenary, delivered by Professor Jose-Manuel Alonso from the College of Optometry, State University of New York, titled: “Chiaroscuro in the visual brain”, described the way that neurons connect and function to allow a precise representations of the visual world in the brain.

Perth is set to host the milestone 40th ANS meeting in 2020. The Perron Institute and affiliates are well represented on the host organising committee. They include Emeritus Professor Alan Harvey, Professors Fitzgerald and Julian Heng (Curtin University) and Sulev Kōks, Associate Professors Stuart Hodgetts and Jenny Rodger, Drs Li Shan Chiu and Adam Edwards, and several students including Leanne Jiang, Megan Bakeberg and Anastazja Gorecki.