Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and mild traumatic brain injury are among the research areas supported in the inaugural round of grants from the Bryant Stokes Neurological Research Fund.  

The fund, made possible by the generosity of the philanthropic Sarich family, was established in recognition of distinguished neurosurgeon, Emeritus Professor Bryant Stokes AO for his contribution to the Perron Institute and advancement of neurosciences research. 

The funding opportunities are for scientific research projects aimed at improving the lives of people affected by neurological conditions and supporting Western Australian researchers. 

One of two Parkinson’s projects supported concerns development of a novel RNA-based treatment for early onset forms of the disease, led by Dr Dunhui Li, PhD and MD (Perron Institute and CMMIT, Murdoch University). The other is looking to see whether non-invasive brain stimulation can strengthen connectivity in the motor cortex (responsible for voluntary movement) and reduce tremor in people with Parkinson’s, led by Dr Ann-Marie Vallence (Murdoch University).   

Understanding why immune cell changes occur in people developing multiple sclerosis is one of the studies relating to this neurodegenerative disorder, led by Dr Stephanie Trend (Perron Institute and CMMIT, Murdoch University). Another is investigating the potential for preventing damage to and restoring the insulating layer of myelin that forms around nerves, led by Dr Virginie Lam (Curtin University).  

Investigating the potential for gene patching therapy to improve cognitive ability in childhood intellectual disorders such as Down syndrome is another project among eight selected for funding, led by Dr Craig McIntosh (Perron Institute and CMMIT, Murdoch University).  

Research on whether neurofeedback from non-invasive measurement of brain wave activity can help induce positive brain changes in people with persisting post-concussive symptoms after mild traumatic brain injury is receiving support, led by Dr Sarah Hellewell (Curtin University and Perron Institute). 

A grant was awarded to research into achieving better understanding of how brain stimulation via repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) achieves therapeutic outcomes, led by Associate Professor Jennifer Rodger (UWA and Perron Institute). 

A project to decipher why the effects of rTMS varies significantly between patients has been jointly supported by the Bryant Stokes Neurological Research Fund, the Perron Institute and the WA Department of Health, led by Dr Alex Tang (UWA and Perron Institute). 

The total allocated in this first round of funding was over $700,000.  

A full list of projects and investigators can be found here.