2021: Year in Review

From discovery to you

We aim to improve lives through a deeper understanding of the brain in health and disease.
This is how we did in 2021.


Jump to a section or scroll for the full review.

Vice Chancellor Professor Debbie Terry AO

Vice Chancellor, Professor Deborah Terry AO

Nurturing research excellence 

In 2021, The University of Queensland climbed to equal 54th place in the global ranking of universities and equal second place in Australia. The result reflects the exceptional commitment of our people in teaching and research, with the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) standing out as a world leader in neuroscience research. QBI is a powerhouse where bright minds are dedicated to discovery research that ultimately will improve lives.

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Professor Pankaj Sah

Director, Professor Pankaj Sah

Our research is only possible with your support

How did we stay optimistic in a year that tested everyone’s resilience? It’s not hard if you see our team’s drive, the quality of their research and the inspiration they receive from donors. In 2021, despite the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, we pushed on with discovery research that underpins translational research and better health outcomes. To our team, donors and partners, thank you. We cannot achieve this without you.

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Mr Jeff McLean

Chairman, Mr Jeff Maclean

Improving lives

Many of you will know I’ve supported the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) from its early days, following my Dad’s experience with motor neurone disease. In 2021, the QBI team continued pushing the boundaries of neuroscience to improve lives. COVID-19 was a challenge, but the biggest one is still funding. We thank every organisation and person who, despite a difficult year, had the vision to support QBI and its outstanding research.

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The year at a glance

39 laboratories and 186 research projects underway

202 researchers and 100 PhD students

382 scientific papers published


Research that makes an impact

In 2021 we hit some major scientific milestones with innovative research being taken to clinical trials. 

Our researchers continued their outstanding legacy of generating new knowledge, with 382 papers published in scientific journals.


2021 publications list

Alzheimer’s disease clinical trial

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Motor neurone disease clinical trial

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Parkinsons and OCD clinical trial

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Our science and researchers

Find out what motivates our researchers to do what they do and why discovery science is so important.

QBI Advisory Board

Our Advisory Board, chaired by Jeff Maclean, helped steer us through 2021, navigating the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to deliver outstanding research outcomes.


Meet the Advisory Board

Community engagement

We care about community.

In 2021 we were on the road and meeting school students, sharing the secrets of the brain.

Learn more about our involvement in the Australian Brain Bee Challenge and the Parkinsons and Movement Disorder Roadshow.

Learn more


Partnerships and collaboration

To ensure that QBI discovery research positively impacts people - especially those living with neurological conditions - we work with clinician-researchers, other leading academic institutions, government, industry and commercial partners. Some of these partners support our discovery research from its infancy, well before we identify an end-use. Others join us as QBI research teams translate their findings into clinical trials.

Ultimately, we're working with organisations and people who share our mission to improve lives by delivering innovative therapeutics, novel treatment technologies and diagnostic tools.


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Prizes, awards and achievements

It's nice to be recognised for our outstanding achievements. We're proud of what we accomplished in 2021. 

11 fellowships

36 grants

21 awards and prizes

Matilde Balbi
Matilde Balbi and team won the Early-Stage Bionic Award in the Bionics Queensland Challenge.
Cong Wang
Cong Wang received a NanoString Young Investigator Brain Tank Neuroscience Edition Prize.
Fanny de Busserolles
Fanny de Busserolles received a Konishi Neuroethology Research Award.
Roger Varela
Roger Varela was awarded the Samuel Gershon Junior Investigator Award.
Elizabeth Coulson
Elizabeth Coulson received the Australasian Neuroscience Society 2021 Nina Kondelos Award for a female neuroscientist for outstanding contributions to basic or clinical neuroscience.
Massimo Hilliard
Massimo Hilliard received a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHRMC), Investigator Grant Leadership.


Equity, diversity and inclusion

QBI brings together researchers from diverse cultures and backgrounds to share ideas and research insights. This collaborative environment celebrates the uniqueness of our scientists – their ethnicity, gender, religious belief – to foster a research community which is driving the next breakthrough discoveries in neuroscience.

Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (ED&I) helps establish a supportive and welcoming workplace by committing to a policy of promoting equality of opportunity.  

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We are a not-for-profit with 100% of our income from donors and grants going straight to research. 


  •  Australian competitive grants (ARC, NHMRC, and other Commonwealth grants): $10.9 M
  •  Other grants (other research grants): $5.3 M 
  •  Other revenue (Commonwealth funding for research and other commercial income): $10.2 M 
  •  Philanthropy (research donations): $3.8 M 
  •  UQ allocation (funding in arrears, contribution model tax, and institute support): $7.3 M 

2021 total income: $37.5 M

2021 income graph

"Government funding for basic research over the past two decades has not increased significantly despite increased application numbers and decreased success rates"

Thank you to all our 2021 donors

This year we have a lot of individuals and companies to thank.

Your generosity and support has helped us take steps forward in our mission to improve human lives through unravelling the mysteries of the brain.

Our 2021 donors



Support our research

Help us make new discoveries about the incredible and complex brain on the path to new cures for neurological diseases and injury.

You can support us through donations, gifts in will or memory, and fundraising, with the assurance 100% of donations goes straight to our research.

Support our research