Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research

Macquarie Neurodegeneration Meeting

Friday 19th July 2019

8:40am - 6:00pm

Australian Hearing Hub Theatre

The Macquarie Neurodegeneration Meeting is an annual event hosted by the Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research, Macquarie University. The aim of this event is for Australian neuroscientists to showcase their research and to stimulate conversation and foster collaboration to develop treatments for diseases including motor neuron disease, Alzheimer’s disease, frontal temporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other degenerative brain disorders. We have assembled a program which will feature several keynote speakers:

  • Professor Ian Blair from Macquarie University
  • Professor Tim Karl from Western Sydney University
  • Associate Professor Kay Double from The University of Sydney
  • Professor Lars Ittner from Macquarie University
  • Dr Mary-Louise Rogers from Flinders University
  • Professor Michael Breakspear from The University of Newcastle
  • Dr Angela Laird from Macquarie University
  • Professor Mark Wilson from the University of Wollongong

Program will be available in June

Abstract Book will be available in June

Our Sponsor

Call for Abstracts

Abstract submission will open in May - date to be advised.

Prizes will be awarded on the day for:
Best ECR presentation
Best student poster
Best ECR poster


Online registration will open in May (date to be advised)

Registration is free and includes Morning tea, Lunch, and Afternoon Tea during the sessions.

Drinks and nibbles will be provided at the end of the program.

Programme and Abstract Book

Friday 19th July, 2019

Australian Hearing Hub, Level 1 Theatre

16 University Ave, Macquarie University

8:40  – 9:10 am

Registration & Refreshments

9:10  – 9:15 am

Symposium Opening

Welcome remarks

Session 1Chair - TBA
9:15  – 9:45 am
Guest Speaker 1 -  (30min)
9:45 – 10:15 am
Guest Speaker 2 -  (30min)  
10:15  – 10:30 am
ECR Speaker 1- (15min)
10:30 – 10:45 am
ECR Speaker 2 - (15min)

10:45 - 11:15 am

Morning Tea & Trade Displays from our sponsor Olympus & Posters

Session 2 Chair - TBA
11.15  – 11:45 am
Guest Speaker 3 - (30min)
11:45am–12:15pmGuest Speaker 4 -  (30min)
12:15  – 12:30 pmECR Speaker 3 - (15min)    
12:30  – 12:45 pmECR Speaker 4 - (15min)  

12.45 – 1:45 pm

Lunch, Poster Session – Meet our poster presenters, Trade Displays from our sponsor Olympus

Session 3Chair - TBA
1:45 – 2:15 pm
Guest Speaker 5 -  (30min)
2:15 – 2:45 pmGuest Speaker 6 –  (30min)    
2:45 – 3:00 pmECR Speaker 5 - (15min)  
3:00 – 3:15 pmECR Speaker 6 - (15min)  

3:15 - 3:45pm

Afternoon Tea & Trade Displays from our sponsor Olympus & Posters

Session 4 Chair - TBA
3:45  – 4:15 pm
Guest Speaker 7 - (30min)
4:15  – 4:45 pm
Guest Speaker 8 -  (30min)
4:45  – 4:50 pmECR Short Speaker 1 -  (5min)  
4:50  – 4:55 pmECR Short Speaker 2 -  (5min)  
4:55 – 5:00 pmECR Short Speaker 3 -  (5min)
5:00  – 5:05 pmECR Short Speaker 4 -  (5min)  
5:05  – 5:10 pmECR Short Speaker 5 -  (5min)      

5:10  – 5:15 pm

Closing remarks

5:15  – 5:40 pm

Posters, Canap├ęs & Social Drinks

5:40  – 5:50 pm

Prize Presentation

Download the Program (available in June)

Download the Abstract Book (available in June)

Invited Speakers

Professor Ian Blair

Motor Neuron Disease Research Centre - Director and Group Leader

Macquarie University

Prof Ian Blair leads a team at the Macquarie University Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research, that seeks to unravel the molecular genetic basis of MND and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). In the past 10 years, his group has played a key role in most MND gene discoveries worldwide. His team also uses these genes to develop cell and animal models that express the mutant proteins as tools to study the molecular basis of disease. These discoveries have been used to develop new diagnostic tests, predict disease onset and progression, and establish new models for therapeutic development.

See publications here

Professor Tim Karl

Behavioural Neuroscience - School of Medicine

Western Sydney University

Tim Karl graduated from the Leipniz University of Hanover (Germany) in 2003 with a PhD in Zoology (Behavioural Neuroscience). Until 2008, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Garvan Institute working on rodent models for anxiety and schizophrenia. In 2008, Tim established his own research team at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) before taking on an academic position at Western Sydney University in February 2016. His research focused on the neuro-behavioural consequences of gene-environment interactions in animal models for schizophrenia and the discovery of new therapeutic targets for dementia. Tim’s team also investigates the detrimental and potentially beneficial properties of cannabis constituents for brain disorders. As all of his group’s research is based on mouse model systems, Tim’s research also aims to enhance the validity of rodent models and the well-being of test animals in medical research by providing more stimulating housing conditions and utilising more natural test system models. Prof Karl has published over 90 research articles, reviews and book chapters and is currently funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC Project Grants and Dementia Research Team Initiative), the ARC, and the Ainsworth Medical Research Innovation Fund.

See publications here.

Associate Professor Kay Double

Neuroscience - Brain and Mind Centre and Discipline of Pharmacology

University of Sydney

Kay Double is a neurochemist and leads the Neurodegeneration Research Laboratory at the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney. She has a particular interest in mechanisms underlying neuronal vulnerability in neurodegenerative diseases with a focus on neurodegenerative disorders of movement, including Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Her ultimate aim is to understand why neurodegenerative diseases lead to the death of specific neuronal groups in order to identify and test disease-modifying interventions. Her approach employs cutting-edge technologies, often applying methods rarely used with human brain tissues. In addition to investigating disease-associated changes in human post mortem tissues, she uses model systems to functionally test the effects of identified disease-linked pathways on neuronal survival. Her work on the uniquely human pigment neuromelanin demonstrated the protective and metal-binding properties of this molecule in the healthy human brain but also demonstrated toxic changes to the pigment in Parkinson’s disease. More recently she discovered the first mechanistic link between Parkinson’s disease and ALS. Her group are now investigating the potential of this pathway for disease modification. Her work is highly collaborative and she leads a number of multidisciplinary, international research groups. A past member of the PNSW Board and Past-Secretary of the Australasian Neuroscience Society, she currently chairs the Parkinson’s New South Wales Expert Advisory group.

See publications here.

Professor Lars Ittner

Dementia Research Centre - Director

Macquarie University

Lars Ittner is a Professor at Macquarie University (2018-) and NHMRC Principal Research Fellow (2018-2022). Lars graduated in Medicine from the University of Ulm in Germany, and received his M.D. from the University of Zurich in Switzerland in 2002, where he then studied neuronal stem cells and signalling pathways. In 2005, he moved to Australia to focus his work on basic pathomechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases. He was recently appointed as new Director of the Dementia Research Centre at Macquarie University in Sydney. He has made major contributions to the understanding of fundamental pathomechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia and identified novel targets for drug development in these diseases. Lars has published over 120 papers with more than 9000 citations, including in leading scientific journals, such as Science, Cell and Nature Medicine. Lars is the recipient of the ASBMB Merck Research Medal 2017 and a chief investigator on the NHMRC Program Grant ForeFront, investigating frontotemporal dementia and motor neurodegenerative syndromes.

See publications here

Dr Mary-Louise Rogers

Senior Research Fellow - Lab Head Motor Neuron Disease and Neurotrophic Research Laboratory

Flinders University

Dr Mary-Louise Rogers is Lab Head of the Motor Neuron Disease & Neurotrophic Research Laboratory (MND&NR), Flinders University, South Australia.  She leads a research team that has developed global strategies for monitoring motor neuron disease (MND) in clinical trials, is developing targeted therapies and describing the fundamental biology of how MND starts. Dr Rogers has led research that has resulted in a world-first urinary biomarker of MND progression called p75ECD. Her team has translated this biomarker into a quantitative method to assess effective MND therapies that is being incorporated into recent clinical trials. In parallel, she has developed methods of targeting gene therapy delivery to motor neurons and is also investigating retroviruses as contributors to the trigger or amplifying signal for MND onset or progression. Her approach is unique in Australia; and her laboratory is co-located in an active teaching hospital that contains the MND SA clinic.

Professor Michael Breakspear

Systems Neuroscience -  School of Psychology

The University of Newcastle

Michael Breakspear is Professor of Systems Neuroscience at the University of Newcastle. He has made important contributions to our understanding of the basic principles underlying activity in large-scale circuits and networks of the brain. The work of his group combines mathematical modelling with the novel analysis of neuroimaging data. As a psychiatrist, he has translated this knowledge into new perspectives on dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and epilepsy.

See publications here

Dr Angela Laird

Motor Neuron Disease Research Centre - Group Leader

Macquarie University

Dr Laird studies the pathogenesis of movement disorders with a particular focus on identifying and testing potential disease treatments. Her group has been successful at producing and characterising the world’s first zebrafish model of spinocerebellar ataxia type-3 (also known as Machado Joseph Disease, MJD).

See publications here

Professor Mark Wilson

Proteostasis and Disease Research Centre

The University of Wollongong

Prof Wilson is a co-founding member of the ‘Proteostasis and Disease Research Centre’, a nucleus of biomedical scientists focussed on aspects of protein homeostasis and its relevance to human diseases (currently comprised of 6 team leaders within IHMRI, with external members at Uni Melb, ANU, Oxford and Cambridge). Wilson currently has 119 publications, mostly journal articles, but including 5 book chapters, 9 review articles and 1 AV work. His work has been published in some of the top journals in the field, including Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Annual Review of Biochemistry, Cell Reports, FASEB Journal, and Traffic. He has studied chaperones for more than 25 years, their effects on protein folding/misfolding, and their roles in proteostasis. His group, based at the University of Wollongong, has pioneered discoveries of the first known secreted (extracellular) mammalian chaperones. The first identified and most extensively studied of these extracellular chaperones is clusterin (CLU), sometimes still called ApoJ.  Together with Prof Heath Ecroyd and a number of student researchers, he recently developed a unique flow cytometry based technique that is able to rapidly and accurately quantify and characterise inclusions formed by essentially any aggregation-prone protein inside cells. This assay is being further developed for use as a drug-screening platform targetted to the treatment of protein aggregation diseases, such as motor neurone disease (MND).

See publications here


The Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research would like to thank the sponsor of the Macquarie Neurodegeneration Meeting.

Venue Details

The Australian Hearing Hub

Level 1, Lecture Theatre
16 University Avenue
Macquarie University NSW 2109


Transport and Accommodation

Getting to the University from the airport

The terminus for domestic and international flights to Sydney is Kingsford Smith airport.  Macquarie University is about 30km from the airport and can be reached from there by road or rail.

TBA Train line closed but expected to open mid year

By train: Take the unique line from the airport to the city; change at Central to the Northern Line and take a train for Hornsby via Macquarie Park, disembarking at the Macquarie University stop.

By taxi: There are taxi ranks at each terminal; the fare to Macquarie University will be over $100.

By car: Sydney Airport is serviced by most major car rental firms, check the airport website for more details.

Driving to campus

Vehicular access into campus is available via:

  • Culloden Road (via Hadenfield Ave, Link Road and Gymnasium Road)
  • Talavera Road (via Research Park Drive)
  • Herring Road (via Innovation Road and University Ave)
  • Epping Road (via Balaclava Road)

Vehicles are only permitted on public access roads unless otherwise stated.


There are marked parking bays in car parks across Campus. Some car parks are for Permit Holders only whilst others are Pay & Display. See the Parking Map for locations.

Parking Restrictions on Campus apply from 6.00am until 8.00pm, 7 days per week.

Pay & Display Parking:

Pay & Display Parking tickets are available from ticket dispensing machines located at the following locations:

  • P North 3 (near Culloden Road)
  • P West 3 (west side of campus)

Pay and display ticket holders may only park in these car parks and a valid ticket must be displayed on the dashboard.

Note that ticket dispensing machines accept gold coins, credit cards/debit cards or PayWave. 

There are fines for parking in carparks not designated for casual parking (pay and display).

Disability Parking

Australian Disability Parking Scheme permits are honoured at Macquarie University. Vehicles displaying these permits may park in specially designated 'disabled only' spaces, or general parking areas at no charge. See Accessibility Map.

Motorcycle Parking

Motorcycle parking is provided in specially marked bays and areas throughout the Campus. Motorcycles do not need to pay or obtain entry permits if they park in these designated bays.

Public Transport



Accommodation Options

MGSM Executive Hotel is on campus and is the closest hotel in walking distance to the Hearing Hub

Travelodge Macquarie North Ryde is also located on campus and is within walking distance:

Medina Apartments caters for small groups and is located off campus but within 15-30 min walking distance or short drive.

Meriton Suites North Ryde is located off campus and close to Macquarie Shopping Centre and also caters for small groups and within 15-30 min walking distance or a short drive.

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