QBI has notched up another year of outstanding performance in the highly competitive Australian Research Council (ARC) funding arena, with the awarding of Future Fellowships and Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards (DECRA) recently.
QBI’s Dr Charles Claudianos and Dr Massimo Hilliard were two of The University of Queensland’s 21 successful fellows; while Dr Oliver Baumann was among UQ’s 34 successful DECRAs.
QBI Director Professor Bartlett said the results in both the Future Fellowships and DECRA schemes reinforced the high quality of the Institute’s researchers and research programs.
“This support for our researchers is crucial if we want to retain our best and brightest neuroscientists within Australia,” he says.
The Future Fellowships scheme aims to address opportunity gaps for Australia’s brightest early and mid-career researchers, ensuring they continue to make discoveries that will improve lives.
Dr Charles Claudianos’ fellowship worth $708,377 will explore the role of synapse development in cognitive disorder.
“In humans, intellectual disability occurs when nerve cells in the brain fail to connect,” Dr Claudianos explains.
“The project examines fundamental molecular processes involved in synapse development of neurons.
“The use of insect models provides a generalised biological template to understand how synaptic molecules contribute to behaviours that underlie cognitive disorder.”
Dr Massimo Hilliard was awarded $714,528 to investigate the molecules and mechanisms regulating axonal degeneration and regeneration in Caenorhabditis elegans neurons.
“Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying nerve degeneration and regeneration is essential to tackle and provide treatment for neurodegenerative diseases and injury of the nervous system,” Dr Hilliard says.
“This project aims to discover, using a genetic approach and a simple animal model system, the molecules regulating these crucial biological processes.”
The DECRA scheme was a separate element of the ARC Discovery program, providing more focussed support and creating more opportunities for early career researchers.
Dr Oliver Baumann’s DECRA, worth $375,000, will probe the role of the human cerebellum in perceptual processes.
“Our brains are constantly bombarded with sensory information,” he explains.
“This project will determine how a particular brain structure, the cerebellum, regulates the perception of our environment.
“The project will also contribute to a better understanding of deficits in disorders that have been linked to cerebellar abnormality such as autism.”
These awards build on success earlier this month in which QBI researchers received more than $2.7 million in the latest round of ARC Discovery Project grants to explore topics ranging from how sensory experience modulates sense of smell through to the role of micro-RNAs in the learning and memory of insects.
QBI researchers were also successful in the latest round of ARC Linkage Project grants.
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