Students from either a clinical or science background are welcome to apply to join the neurosurgery research team. Our projects that include opportunities for PhD studies include:

Pathophysiology of syringomyelia (spinal cord cysts)
Cysts form within the spinal cord after spinal cord injury, or in association with spinal tumours, meningitis, and some congenital abnormalities. When the cysts enlarge, they damage the spinal cord, resulting in pain and paralysis. The origin of these cysts is not known. We are investigating the source of cyst fluid, the pathways of fluid flow, and the role of aquaporins and the blood-spinal cord barrier on syrinx formation and enlargement. In addition, we are examining the effect of cysts on the surrounding spinal cord tissue. Our techniques involve fluid tracers (including in vivo fluorescent imaging) and molecular techniques in animal models. In collaboration with Prof Lynne Bilston, we use computational modelling to study transmission of fluid pulses in the spine and have clinical studies of patients using sophisticated MRI techniques.

Brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)
These vascular abnormalities in the brain are the commonest cause of stroke in children and young adults. Although surgery is effective for small superficial AVMs, it is often too risky for large or deep lesions. For small deep lesions a single high dose of focused radiation (radiosurgery) can be used, however this treatment takes years to obliterate AVMs. We are working on developing a completely new treatment for AVMs, using radiosurgery to induce molecular changes in AVM endothelial cells and then targeting these molecular changes to stimulate intravascular thrombosis. We have shown that this technique can result in thrombosis in an animal model and are currently working to refine the strategy. Our techniques include proteomic analysis of membrane changes after gammaknife radiosurgery in the animal model and in cell culture, in vivo molecular imaging of changes in the animal model, assessment of blood flow using Doppler ultrasound and angiography, and immunohistochemical assessment of the changes. We are also developing conjugates of antibodies and thrombotic agents to use as targeting agents.

Professor Marcus Stoodley
Tel: +61 (0)2 9812 3800