Neuroscientists move to redress growing disease burden in China and Australia

17 Aug 2009

An exciting new high-level collaboration has been announced in Brisbane between the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) and Chinese neuroscientists.

The research initiative is designed to redress the increasing number of people with neurological and mental disease in both countries.

Accordingly, a joint research laboratory in neuroscience and cognition will be formed between UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute and the Institute of Biophysics (IBP) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

QBI Director Professor Perry Bartlett and IBP Deputy Director General Professor Rongqiao He signed a letter of agreement before CAS Vice-President Professor LI Jiayang at QBI on 14 August.

Professor Bartlett said more than three years of interactions had contributed to this unique scientific collaboration.

“China and Australia both face similar disturbing levels of neurological and mental disease in the coming decades,” he said.

China’s population is estimated at more than 1.3 billion people.

“We already know that mental and neurological diseases account for a staggering 45 per cent of the burden of disease in Australia,” Professor Bartlett said.

“As a result of our discussions, we have identified areas of mutual research strength. We are bringing together complementary expertise and advanced technologies in cellular and molecular systems to discover how functions such as learning and memory are regulated.

“We expect to use these discoveries to develop new techniques to treat the avalanche of neurological and mental disease facing both countries.

“Key research questions – such as the development of the brain, how the neural circuitry functions and how dysfunction leads to mental disorder – will figure prominently in our research,” he said.

Both QBI and IBP have committed dedicated laboratory space to the new joint research laboratory.

A program leader will be appointed to oversee the establishment and development of the project – spending time in both Beijing and Brisbane.

The first stage of the project will focus on memory and learning in the fruit fly (Drosophila), a valuable genetic model which allows neuroscientists to glean much-needed insights into the molecular mechanisms of memory and perception in the human brain.


For more information, please contact:
QBI Communications Office
Tel: +61 7 3346 6434

Notes to the Editor
The Queensland Brain Institute was formed in 2003 as part of the Queensland Government’s Smart State Initiative, building on a long history of neuroscience at The University of Queensland.  QBI is dedicated to understanding the molecular basis of brain function and applying this knowledge to the development of new therapeutics to treat brain and mental health disorders.