$3.6 million ARC funding boost for QBI researchers

9 Nov 2012

QBI researchers were awarded $1.69 million in the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project grants, $1.125 million in Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRAs), and a further $800,000 injection for new equipment funded under the ARC’s Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme.

QBI recipients will use the grant funding to explore a range of areas in neuroscience including the extinction of fear, the role of the neocortex in animal behaviour and the mechanisms of decision under uncertainty.

Among those funded was Professor Pankaj Sah, awarded $600,000 to explore how the brain processes, stores and retrieves information.

Professor Sah’s project will use electrophysiology and molecular techniques to understand the circuits that mediate emotional learning.

“Fear learning is a strong animal model for anxiety disorders like post-traumatic stress, panic disorders and stress, while extinction of fear responses form the basis for exposure therapy used to treat these disorders,” he said.

“This project will study the brain circuits that underpin fear learning and extinction. This study will provide insight into how these disorders may arise and subsequently to help the discovery and design of new ways to treat these often disabling disorders.”

Work at QBI’s Centre for Ageing Dementia Research (CADR) has also received funding, with $300,000 awarded to CADR Director, Professor Jürgen Götz, to study the neuronal protein, tau, and its cellular functions extending far beyond its established role in stabilising microtubules.

Professor Götz’s project will determine which tau isoforms are nuclearly localised, what the consequences are for nuclear functions, and how phosphorylation regulates this localisation.
Other QBI recipients of ARC Discovery Project grants include:

  • Associate Professor Stephen Williams,
Dendritic information processing during sensory-motor behaviour, $441,000
  • Professor Joe Lynch,The molecular basis of ionic selectivity in nicotinic-type ion channel receptors, $350,000

QBI’s younger scientists were also recognised through the awarding of three DECRAs with the recipients including:

  • Dr Marta
 Garrido, Neurobiological mechanisms of decision under uncertainty, $375,000
  • Dr Hong Sang Lee, Novel statistical algorithms and methods to quantify and partition pleiotropy between complex traits in populations, $375,000

Associate Professor Fred Meunier and colleagues received $800,000 support for equipment through the ARC’s LIEF scheme. The funds will go toward a live molecular imaging machine using super resolution microscopy.