Chairman's message

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 (MND). 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 the many organisations and individuals who, despite a difficult year, had the vision to support QBI and its outstanding research.

QBI is one of only a few global institutes focused on understanding the brain in health and disease. A quick look at the scientific papers published in 2021 by QBI researchers shows the breadth and quality of their research. Here are some examples that captured my attention.   

Associate Professor Victor Anggono’s lab made a breakthrough in understanding how protein receptors help brain cells communicate. Their discovery will inform research in many areas, including epilepsy and neurodegenerative diseases.

Professor Jürgen Götz and his team moved closer to a non-invasive ultrasound treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. In 2021, the team developed and built a device for the upcoming safety trial.

In Professor Perry Bartlett’s lab, building on decades of discovery research, the team pinpointed the exercise ‘sweet spot’ to reverse cognition decline in mice. Then, the team led an exercise trial to test this knowledge in older people.

Also in the Bartlett lab, in research close to my heart, the team began a clinical trial to determine the safety and benefits of a novel drug that may halt or slow the progression of MND

Funding discovery research

Researchers spend nearly 25 per cent of their time writing applications for funding. Yet the success rate for grants is just eight per cent. I would like to see this intellectual effort directed to solving some of the world’s most pressing health challenges. We must advocate for increased government spending and philanthropic and commercial support for the discovery science that informs translational research.  

Setting a course for the future

Research requires input from many partners committed to working together to achieve QBI’s goals. In 2021, QBI reflected on its vision and launched a new strategic plan to continue delivering impactful research.

Thank you to the UQ community, government, foundations, corporates, industry partners and individuals who supported QBI in 2021. I would like to particularly acknowledge and thank the Clem Jones Foundation, the Brazil Family Foundation and the Stafford Fox Medical Research Foundation.

Thank you to my fellow QBI Board members for their strategic input and efforts to raise awareness of QBI’s research. Thank you to the UQ Vice-Chancellor, Professor Deborah Terry, for her ongoing support of QBI.

Reflecting on the incredible work achieved in 2021, we must give credit to QBI Director Professor Pankaj Sah and his whole team for their leadership, diligence and resilience. It is an honour to be part of QBI’s activities as we build the momentum for the health breakthroughs to come.

Jeff Maclean 

Chairman, QBI Advisory Board