University of Melbourne researchers receive funding for MS research
Veteran and mid-career University of Melbourne researchers are receiving vital funding for research into multiple sclerosis, thanks to MS Research Australia.
Three researchers working at the university and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health have received a total of $442,000 to further our understanding of this crippling disease affecting nearly 24,000 Australians.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system in which the myelin (fatty insulating sheathes protecting nerve fibres) becomes damaged and scarred. This impairs how well nerves conduct impulses, affecting a person’s motor, sensory and even cognitive functions.
The causes of MS are unknown, but genetic and environmental factors are suspected of having some role. Three quarters of those living with MS are female.
Professor Trevor Kilpatrick leads the MS division at the Florey and is a neurologist and head of the MS Unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. As well, he is the director of the Centre for Neuroscience and the Melbourne Neuroscience Institute at the University of Melbourne.
Prof Kilpatrick has been awarded $92,000 to continue his world-recognized research into the functional implications of genetic variation in a specific gene called MERTK and it’s role in MS susceptibility.
Dr Simon Murray from the university’s Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience received $180,000 and, working in the laboratory of Dr Holly Cate, will be deepening his understanding of the growth factor BDNF, investigating its potential to promote myelin regrowth in MS.
Dr Stan Mitew also from the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and colleague Dr Ben Emery received $150,000 to investigate whether mechanisms for myelination that occur during development can be reactivated to enhance myelin repair in MS.
MS Research Australia plays a vital role in increasing the capacity for MS research in Australia by supporting the career development of promising young MS researchers including encouraging young clinicians to expand their focus into research.
University of Melbourne Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience
The Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience’s research in neuroscience, cell and developmental biology, and anatomical sciences aims to understand fundamental biological mechanisms in order to develop new treatments for injury and disease states. University of Melbourne researchers are located in the Medical Building and the Melbourne Brain Centre, and include research teams from the Centre for Neuroscience Research, Stem Cells Australia and the Melbourne Brain Imaging Centre.
The department has a rich history in teaching anatomy, beginning in 1862 with the appointment of the first Professor John Britton Halford as Professor of General Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology. Teaching in topographic anatomy continues to be a major area of activity in the department, enhanced by well-equipped dissection facilities and valuable educational resources of the nearby Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology. The university’s teaching program includes students from the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Science, with subjects including topographic anatomy, integrated neuroscience, cell and developmental biology and an exciting new subject on stem cells.
Master of Science (MSc) at the University of Melbourne
The Master of Science (MSc) is run through the Melbourne Graduate School. Students in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience can undertake a MSc in Neuroscience (from 2013) or in Biomedical and Health Sciences. In each case, it comprises a research project of 125 points and 75 points of coursework.