Stroke research boosted with international recruit

5 Sep 2019



Dr Matilde Balbi.

Harnessing brain stimulation to aid recovery after stroke is the focus of a new researcher joining the Queensland Brain Institute at The University of Queensland in 2020, thanks to a transformative donation.

Dr Matilde Balbi, who is currently based in Canada, will establish a laboratory at QBI supported by a generous gift from the Brazil Family Foundation, which gave $5 million to the institute for stroke and Motor Neurone Disease (MND) research.

“Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide,” Dr Balbi said. “Recovery is widely variable across survivors and is highly dependent on the level of blood flow restored to affected areas.

“I am investigating the use of brain stimulation in animal models to improve blood flow and thereby reduce the size of lesions and improve motor function following a stroke.

“I’m also exploring the fundamental mechanisms underlying these improvements to understand how we could harness them to further enhance stroke recovery.

“The world-class facilities, opportunity to collaborate with leading clinicians and researchers in stroke and the security of funding provided by the Brazil family convinced me to move halfway around the world to join the Queensland Brain Institute.”

QBI Director Professor Pankaj Sah said Dr Balbi’s appointment demonstrated the clinical benefits that could arise from generous philanthropic support of fundamental research.

“The incredibly generous gift from the Brazil family is allowing QBI to accelerate its research into stroke and MND by boosting our clinical collaborations.

“Philanthropic funding on this scale allows fundamental research, such as Dr Balbi’s work exploring the molecular and cellular basis of brain function and response to stroke and treatments, to lead to clinical outcomes that improve diagnosis and treatment of this major health issue.

“This in turn helps bridge the gap between researchers with an idea, and a treatment solution for the person living with the disease.

“I am delighted that this funding has helped QBI to attract a promising researcher of Dr Balbi’s calibre, and I look forward to welcoming her next year.”

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in Australia, costing the economy an estimated $5 billion each year, according to Deloitte Access Economics.