Stroke is an important disease to study. It affects more than 50,000 new Australians each year, is the nation’s third-biggest killer, and is estimated to cost the healthcare system $5 billion per annum in direct financial costs. QBI is dedicated to researching ways to better treat stroke, with the generous support of donors such as the Brazil family.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, causing neurons (brain cells) to die. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel, which carries oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the brain, is either blocked (an ischaemic stroke) or bursts (a haemorrhagic stroke).   

Stroke research at QBI

Bobbie and Lyn Brazil, who established the Brazil Family Program for Neurology at QBI.
(L-R) Bobbie Brazil AO and Lyn Brazil, who established the Brazil Family Program for Neurology to support stroke and MND research at QBI.

Brazil Family Program for Neurology

The multimillion-dollar program, generously funded by the Brazil Family Foundation, has greatly expanded QBI's research into stroke, as well as MND. The support of the Brazils and other funders has enabled our researchers to tackle the issue of stroke from multiple angles, including studying its neurological basis, and answering clinical questions on post-stroke management. 

 

Dr Matilde Balbi's goal is to understand the intrinsic mechanisms of the brain to restore itself following stroke and harness these mechanisms for therapeutic purposes by using a multi-level approach that includes neuronal, systems and behavioural analysis. Her vision is to recruit and enhance the intrinsic neuroprotective mechanisms of the brain through recovery paradigms tailored individually by automated assessment and AI-controlled feedback.

 

 

Dr Tara Walker is studying how new neurons are produced in the adult brain – a processed called adult neurogenesis. Her recent research has identified a new type of programmed cell death called ferroptosis, which has been linked to the cell death that occurs in a number of neurodegenerative diseases and stroke. She will investigate whether changes to diet or environment can halt cognitive decline in an animal model of stroke.

 

Emeritus Professor Perry Bartlett has discovered that stimulating neurogenesis (the production of new neurons) in the hippocampus (part of the brain critical for learning and memory) of mice with a learning deficit following stroke resulted in improved recovery in cognitive function.

 

 

Associate Professor Gail Robinson's clinical research is focused on both theoretical questions about brain-behaviour relationships like the crucial mechanisms for the executive control of language, and clinical questions regarding cognitive assessment and management of various pathologies including neurodegenerative disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, brain tumours and stroke.

 

 

Professor Jason Mattingley is the Foundation Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at The University of Queensland. He is investigating new brain imaging approaches to better understand the systems involved in attention. Professor Mattingley's research is directed toward understanding the neural and cognitive mechanisms that underlie selective attention and the prioritising of sensory inputs, cognitive operations, and motor responses, which can be adversely affected following stroke.

 

 

What is the most common type of stroke?

Ischaemic stroke is the most common type, accounting for more than 80% of all stroke cases. In an ischaemic stroke, a blood vessel can be blocked by a blood clot or by an embolus (an object carried through the bloodstream) from another part of the body. Haemorrhagic strokes can occur where there is an aneurysm (a ballooning of the vessel wall) or an arteriovenous malformation (an abnormal connection beween the arteries and veins). 

Learn more about stroke

Stroke support

In 2015 The Stroke Foundation launched enableme, a free online resource and community for stroke survivors, their families and supporters.  enableme provides:

  • Resources, fact sheets and videos on a wide range of practical topics impacting daily life after stroke
  • A community forum to ask questions and share experiences with other stroke survivors, their families and carers who have ‘been there’
  • A tool to track personal goals to recovery
  • Strokesaurus – an A to Z guide to language used around stroke explained in simple words