Engage

You can help progress our research

You don't have to be a scientist to get involved with QBI. We offer a range of opportunities for everyday people to connect and progress our research and discoveries.

The foundation for all of our work is the funding we receive through a range of sources, including philanthropic donations from our generous supporters. There are many ways to give to QBI: directly, through planned giving, or holding fundraising events that entertain or challenge supporters as they dig deep to help us better understand the brain. 

We also offer opportunities for students to learn directly from our inspiring researchers through lab placements, and for community members to tour our facilities and attend events. Finally, you can give one of the greatest gifts of all by volunteering for studies to advance treatments and diagnostics for brain diseases and disorders.

What your donations fund

Through your support you are helping QBI solve the major neurological health challenges facing our community today

World leading research

Brightest scientific minds

Solutions to global health challenges

Discovery Research Endowment Fund
 

Find out more        Donate to research

QBI’s Discovery Research Endowment Fund supports scientists exploring the unknown, which will guide new research on finding cures for diseases or improving quality of life.

Community & school programs

 

Australian Brain Bee

The Australian Brain Bee Challenge (ABBC) is a competition for high school students in year 10 to learn about the brain and its functions, learn about neuroscience research, find out about careers in neuroscience and to dispel misconceptions about neurological and mental illnesses. 
 

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Volunteer for a research study

QBI offers the public the opportunity to become involved in our research
through volunteering in a range of our human studies.

Your help may be vital to solving some of humanity's greatest ailments
and answering some of the biggest questions we face.
 

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Research in action

  • Prospective candidates should have a strong background in either neuroscience or maths/physics/engineering. Some potential PhD projects include the following (please read our recent papers for more details):
  • Dr Merja Joensuu, who is discovering how neurons communicate in health and disease, believes women in science can overcome any hurdle if they are instilled “to believe in themselves".
  • Vukovic: Neuroimmunology and Cognition

    Group Leader

    Associate Professor Jana Vukovic

    Principal Research Fellow
    Queensland Brain Institute
    Researcher profile is public: 
    1
    Supervisor: 
    Researcher biography: 

    The Vukovic laboratory investigates how brain function is sculpted and influenced by the immune system. Specifically, we examine the role of brain's main resident immune cell population (i.e. microglia), as well as various peripheral immune cells, on learning and memory in mice. We are interested in defining the contribution of immune cells to such higher cognitive tasks, including for neuroinflammatory conditions where learning and memory deficits can occur, e.g. following traumatic brain injury, cancer treatment, and ageing. We have established an array of genetic and pharmacological tools alongside robust behavioural assays to directly probe the function of these immune cells in both the healthy and diseased brain. The ultimate goal of our work is to link cellular and molecular events to altered behaviour, and to harness the brain's intrinsic regenerative potential for stimulating optimal cognitive function.

    A neuroimmunologist, Dr Vukovic received her PhD in 2008 from The University of Western Australia after working on the repair of injured nerve cell connections. She joined QBI in 2009 to work in Professor Perry Bartlett's laboratory as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, before being awarded a Queensland Government Smart Futures Fellowship to continue her research into the importance of adult neurogenesis for behaviour and how microglia influence this process in ageing. Dr Vukovic demonstrated that microglia can exert a dual and opposing influence over adult neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons) in the hippocampus under different physiological conditions, namely exercise and ageing, and that signalling through the chemokine receptor, CX3CR1, critically contributes towards this (Vukovic et al., 2012, J Neurosci). Dr Vukovic also generated novel evidence that ongoing neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus is critical for new learning but does not play a role in memory recall (Vukovic et al., 2013, J Neurosci).

    Dr Vukovic was awarded an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2015-2018) and was jointly appointed as a group leader by the UQ School of Biomedical Sciences (SBMS) and QBI in 2015. She heads the Neuroimmunology and Cognition team investigating the interactions between the brain and the immune system in health and disease.

    Currently, the group is working on three main projects:

    1. Identification of microglia-derived molecules that support neuronal survival and stimulate neural stem/progenitor cell expansion
    2. Characterisation of immune cell contribution to changes in neuronal connectivity
    3. Immune cell responses to cancer treatment, and their effect on learning and memory
    Body: 

    Dr Jana Vukovic: Neuroimmunology and cognition

    The Vukovic laboratory investigates how brain function is sculpted and influenced by the immune system. Specifically, we examine the role of brain’s main resident immune cell population (i.e. microglia), as well as various peripheral immune cells, on learning and memory in mice. We are interested in defining the contribution of immune cells to such higher cognitive tasks, including for neuroinflammatory conditions where learning and memory deficits can occur, e.g. following traumatic brain injury, cancer treatment, and ageing. 

    Find out more


     


    Members

    Dr Seung Jae Kim

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    Researcher profile is public: 
    1
    Supervisor: 
    Body: 

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    Journal Articles

    Insulin signaling in AgRP neurons regulates meal size to limit glucose excursions and insulin resistance
    Dodd, Garron T., Kim, Seung Jae, Méquinion, Mathieu, Xirouchaki, Chrysovalantou E., Brüning, Jens C., Andrews, Zane B. and Tiganis, Tony (2021). Insulin signaling in AgRP neurons regulates meal size to limit glucose excursions and insulin resistance. Science Advances, 7 (9) eabf4100. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abf4100

    Integration of hindbrain and carotid body mechanisms that control the autonomic response to cardiorespiratory and glucoprivic insults
    Kakall, Zohra M., Cohen, E. Myfanwy, Farnham, Melissa M. J., Kim, Seung Jae, Nedoboy, Polina E. and Pilowsky, Paul M. (2019). Integration of hindbrain and carotid body mechanisms that control the autonomic response to cardiorespiratory and glucoprivic insults. Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology, 265, 83-91. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2018.08.008

    Glia and central cardiorespiratory pathology
    Cohen, E. Myfanwy, Farnham, Melissa M.J., Kakall, Zohra, Kim, Seung Jae, Nedoboy, Polina E. and Pilowsky, Paul M. (2018). Glia and central cardiorespiratory pathology. Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical, 214, 24-34. doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2018.08.003

    Sympathoexcitation following intermittent hypoxia in rat is mediated by circulating angiotensin II acting at the carotid body and subfornical organ
    Kim, Seung Jae, Fong, Angelina Y., Pilowsky, Paul M. and Abbott, Stephen B. G. (2018). Sympathoexcitation following intermittent hypoxia in rat is mediated by circulating angiotensin II acting at the carotid body and subfornical organ. Journal of Physiology, 596 (15), 3217-3232. doi: 10.1113/JP275804

    Intrathecal intermittent Orexin-A causes sympathetic long-term facilitation and sensitizes the peripheral chemoreceptor response to hypoxia in rats
    Kim, Seung Jae, Pilowsky, Paul M. and Farnham, Melissa M. J. (2016). Intrathecal intermittent Orexin-A causes sympathetic long-term facilitation and sensitizes the peripheral chemoreceptor response to hypoxia in rats. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 358 (3), 492-501. doi: 10.1124/jpet.116.234443

    Intermittent hypoxia-induced cardiorespiratory long-term facilitation: a new role for microglia
    Kim, Seung Jae, Kim, Yeon Jae, Kakall, Zohra, Farnham, Melissa M. J. and Pilowsky, Paul M. (2016). Intermittent hypoxia-induced cardiorespiratory long-term facilitation: a new role for microglia. Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology, 226, 30-38. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2016.03.012

    Dr Emily Willis

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    Queensland Brain Institute
    Researcher profile is public: 
    1
    Supervisor: 
    Body: 

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    Researcher biography

    Emily is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the Vukovic laboratory for Neuroimmunology and Cognition where she investigates the functional consequences of neuro-immune interactions and their impact on traumatic brain injury outcomes. Specifically, she investigates microglia, the CNS resident innate immune cells, and their role in mediating learning and memory deficits arising from brain injury. Dr Willis completed her PhD in neuroimmunology at The University of Queensland in October 2020. During this time, she identified that microglia do not actively drive secondary inflammatory pathology after brain injury, but rejuvenating microglia can induce microglia to become neuro-protective, driving brain repair and restoring cognition after brain injury. She identified that these rejuvenated microglia act via the interleukin-6 signalling pathway and identify this pathway as a potential target for therapeutic intervention. Her work demonstrates that microglia and their suggested roles in propagating brain injury have been previously misunderstood, and approaches to harness and modulate microglia are possible and this can support brain repair and restore brain function after injury. Her work was published in the leading life sciences journal Cell in 2020 (IF: 41.58, citations to date: 150). Her research has received several awards, including the Mark Rowe award and the Paxinos-Watson award, both from the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS) in 2021, as well as the Postdoctoral Investigator Award from the National Association of Research Fellows (NARF) of the NHMRC in 2020.

    Journal Articles

    Selective ablation of BDNF from microglia reveals novel roles in self-renewal and hippocampal neurogenesis
    Harley, Samuel B. R., Willis, Emily F., Shaikh, Samreen N., Blackmore, Daniel G., Sah, Pankaj, Ruitenberg, Marc J., Bartlett, Perry F. and Vukovic, Jana (2021). Selective ablation of BDNF from microglia reveals novel roles in self-renewal and hippocampal neurogenesis. The Journal of Neuroscience, 41 (19), 4172-4186. doi: 10.1523/jneurosci.2539-20.2021

    Protocol for brain-wide or region-specific microglia depletion and repopulation in adult mice
    Willis, Emily F. and Vukovic, Jana (2020). Protocol for brain-wide or region-specific microglia depletion and repopulation in adult mice. STAR protocols, 1 (3) 100211, 100211. doi: 10.1016/j.xpro.2020.100211

    Repopulating Microglia Promote Brain Repair in an IL-6-Dependent Manner
    Willis, Emily F., MacDonald, Kelli P. A., Nguyen, Quan H., Garrido, Adahir Labrador, Gillespie, Ellen R., Harley, Samuel B. R., Bartlett, Perry F., Schroder, Wayne A., Yates, Abi G., Anthony, Daniel C., Rose-John, Stefan, Ruitenberg, Marc J. and Vukovic, Jana (2020). Repopulating Microglia Promote Brain Repair in an IL-6-Dependent Manner. Cell, 180 (5), 833-846.e16. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.02.013

    Complement components are upregulated and correlate with disease progression in the TDP-43 mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
    Lee, John D., Levin, Samantha C., Willis, Emily F., Li, Rui, Woodruff, Trent M. and Noakes, Peter G. (2018). Complement components are upregulated and correlate with disease progression in the TDP-43 mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 15 (1) 171, 171. doi: 10.1186/s12974-018-1217-2

    Defects in synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction precedes motor deficits in a TDP-43Q331K transgenic mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
    Chand, Kirat K., Lee, Kah Meng, Lee, John D., Qiu, Hao, Willis, Emily F., Lavidis, Nickolas A., Hilliard, Massimo A. and Noakes, Peter G. (2018). Defects in synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction precedes motor deficits in a TDP-43Q331K transgenic mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. FASEB Journal : Official Publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 32 (5), fj201700835R-2689. doi: 10.1096/fj.201700835R

    Somatic Arc protein expression in hippocampal granule cells is increased in response to environmental change but independent of task-specific learning
    Cleland, J. P., Willis, E. F., Bartlett, P. F. and Vukovic, J. (2017). Somatic Arc protein expression in hippocampal granule cells is increased in response to environmental change but independent of task-specific learning. Scientific Reports, 7 (1) 12477, 12477. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-12583-1

    Protocol for Short- and Longer-term Spatial Learning and Memory in Mice
    Willis, Emily F., Bartlett, Perry F. and Vukovic, Jana (2017). Protocol for Short- and Longer-term Spatial Learning and Memory in Mice. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 11 197, 1-8. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2017.00197

    Thesis

    Role of microglia in traumatic brain injury
    Willis, Emily (2020). Role of microglia in traumatic brain injury. PhD Thesis, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland. doi: 10.14264/906b939


    Students

    Ms Samreen Shaikh

    PhD Student
    Researcher profile is public: 
    0
    Supervisor: 

    Max Dierich

    PhD Student
    Researcher profile is public: 
    1
    Supervisor: 

    Yi Xu

    PhD Student
    Researcher profile is public: 
    1
    Supervisor: 

    Samuel Stuart

    Honours Student
    Researcher profile is public: 
    1
    Supervisor: 

    Shweta Eliza Zachariah

    Honours Student
    Researcher profile is public: 
    1
    Supervisor: 

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