Researcher biography

I completed my undergraduate and PhD training at UQ. After completing my PhD in 2009, I took up a postdoctoral position at UQCCR to introduce a translational edge to my research program. In 2012, I was awarded a Bill Gole Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Motor Neurone Disease Research Institute of Australia (MNDRIA) and returned to the School of Biomedical Sciences with this fellowship to continue my research program in motor neuron disease (MND). In 2015, I was awarded the Scott Sullivan MND Research Fellowship. In this position, I conduct research between the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and the Queensland Brain Institute at UQ, and the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital and the Wesley Hospital to address how changes in energy metabolism affects the course of MND, whilst working to develop therapies for MND.

The primary interest of my research group is to understand how metabolic homeostasis at the systemic and cellular level can impact upon neurodegenerative processes. My group's Metabolic Exploration in Neurodegenerative Disease (MEND) research program centres on Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a fatal neurological condition in which the average life expectancy is 27 months following diagnosis. In MND, the irreversible degeneration of neurones in the central nervous system leads to progressive paralysis and eventually, death. There is no effective treatment for MND, and hence no cure. We are using mouse models of MND, and human myosatellite cell-derived muscle fibres and human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neurons to not only understand the mechanistic nature of MND, but to also conduct preclinical testing of potential therapeutic compounds. The combined use of mouse and human-derived models are integral to our goal of translating research findings into clinical trials for MND.