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Research Excellence

Professor Gilles Guillemin
Professor Gilles Guillemin is internationally recognised as a leader in the fields
of tryptophan, neuroinflammation and neurotoxicity research. Gilles is currently leading a team of 12 researchers studying the involvement of tryptophan (an essential amino acid) in MND such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Spinal muscular atrophy - (SMA). Gilles has a large network of national
and international collaborations. This work has opened numerous promising research opportunities. Gilles’ team is now mostly focusing on identifying and developing new therapeutic targets for these neuroinflammatory diseases.

Professor Roger Chung 
Professor Roger Chung is an Australian Research Council Research Fellow and leads
a research program that aims to understand why particular proteins are prone to aggregation in neurodegenerative diseases. These aggregated proteins interfere with the normal function of neurons, and the goal of this research is to identify treatments that prevent this process. This involves biochemical
mapping of abnormal protein interactions, and evaluating how subtle changes in protein structure can trigger a disastrous series of events in neurons leading to their dysfunction and death. His team is also interested in understanding the role of non-neuronal cells in disease progression – these
cells normally provide support for motor neurons, but appear to become toxic to neurons in MND.

Associate Professor Ian Blair
/>Associate Professor Ian Blair’s research career has focused on determining the molecular and cellular basis of a variety of neurological disorders including Motor Neurone Disease, ALS, hereditary sensory neuropathy (HSN), Charcot Marie Tooth disorder (CMT), the spinal cerebellar ataxias
(SCA), Joubert syndrome, and bipolar disorder. At Macquarie University, Ian conceives, instigates and leads studies to unravel the molecular genetic and cellular basis of ALS/MND. In the past 5 years, his group has played a key role in several ALS gene discoveries worldwide. These discoveries have opened
new chapters in ALS/MND research and produced publications in high-impact journals. His work has also led to the development of effective diagnostic tests for ALS, CMT1A and HSN1.

Dr Nicholas Cole 
/>Dr Cole's research team is focused upon understanding and curing MND by generating zebrafish models of the disease. The fish models are created to understand how motor neurons die in MND patients. Zebrafish are an established research model organism that offers several advantages. In particular,
zebrafish are transparent, allowing us to watch motor neurons degenerate in a living fish, providing a unique opportunity to visualise and understand MND as it actually happens. Several MND causing genes that produce incorrect proteins have been identified from MND patients. Incredibly, Nick
is able to insert these human genes into zebrafish which makes them produce the same proteins. His team can then try to understand the mechanism that results in motor neurone degeneration in MND/ALS. The hope is to make a breakthrough that will lead to an effective treatment or cure.

Associate Professor Julie Atkin
/>Julie is internationally recognised as a leader in the role of cellular stress responses in MND. She is interested in the basic molecular and cellular mechanisms that trigger neurodegeneration in MND, particularly the disruption of cellular trafficking processes and the role of protein aggregation.
Her research has opened up promising novel therapeutic targets which she is investigating further.

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