Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research

Macquarie Neurodegeneration Meeting

Friday 19th July 2019

9:00am - 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, frontotemporal 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 Thomas Fath from Macquarie University
  • Associate Professor Antony Cooper from Garvan Institute of Medical Research
  • Professor Michael Breakspear from The University of Newcastle
  • Dr Angela Laird from Macquarie University
  • Professor Mark Wilson from the University of Wollongong


Abstract Book

Our Sponsor

Our conference is over for another year and we would like to take this opportunity to thank our Sponsor Olympus for making it all possible.

Our prize winners for 2019

Prizes presented by Professor Ian Blair
Centre Director of the Macquarie University Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research

Best Early Career Researcher Talk - Dr Gary Morris from Centre for Neurscience and Regenerative Medicine - University of Technology Sydney

Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s Disease: The Role of Impaired GluA2 RNA Editing

Best Student Talk - Stephanie Rayner from Centre for  Motor Neuron Disease Research - Macquarie University

Rapid, unbiased identification of protein inclusion components from patient post-mortem brain tissue using Biotinylation by Antibody Recognition (BAR)
Best Student Poster - Natalie Scherer - from Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research - Macquarie University

Investigating the role of oxidative stress in spinal motor neurons in a zebrafish model of ALS
Best Student Poster - Andres Vidal-Itriago - from Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research - Macquarie University

Pectoral fin axotomy model: in vivo study of microglial response to peripheral nerve injury in zebrafish

Best Poster Early Career Researcher - Dr Sandy Stayte - University of  Technology Sydney

Targeting kainate receptors to inhibit MPTP-induced degeneration in the mouse midbrain


Best Poster Early Career Researcher - Dr Michelle Lima Garcez - from Centre for Motor Neuron Disease Research - Macquarie University

Minocycline reverses memory impairment induced by β-Amyloid (1-42) and reduces inflammatory parameters in the brain of mice via TLR-2 and NLRP3

Call for Abstracts

Now closed

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


Online registration is OPEN until the 17th July

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.

Register here:

Programme and Abstract Book

Friday 19th July, 2019

Australian Hearing Hub, Level 1 Theatre

16 University Ave, Macquarie University

8:45  – 9:10 am

Registration & Refreshments

9:10  – 9:15 am

Symposium Opening

Welcome remarks from Professor Ian Blair

Session 1Chair - Dr Lyndal Henden

9:15  – 9:45 am

Professor Ian Blair (30min)

The arbitrary genetic classification of MND; strategies to unravel missing heritability

9:45 – 10:15 am
Professor Michael Breakspear  (30min)  
Impulsivity and Gambling in Parkinson’s Disease after Subthalamic Deep Brain Stimulation Correlates with the Structural Connectivity of the Stimulation Field
10:15  – 10:30 am
Dr Gary Morris (15min)
Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s Disease: The Role of Impaired GluA2 RNA Editing
10:30 – 10:45 am
Thomas Kavanagh (15min)
Splicing Dysregulation in Parkinson’s Disease Suggests RBP Dysregulation

10:45 - 11:15 am

Morning Tea & Trade Displays from our sponsor Olympus & Posters

Session 2 Chair - Dr Luan Luu
11.15  – 11:45 am
Associate Professor Kay Double  (30min)

Shared proteinopathy pathways in Parkinson disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

11:45am–12:15 pmSenior Professor Mark R Wilson  (30min)
Rapid flow cytometry screen to identify novel MND drug leads
12:15  – 12:30 pmDr Shu Yang - (15min)    
Genetic and immunopathological analysis of CHCHD10 in Australian amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD)
12:30  – 12:45 pmDr Vanessa Tan (15min)  
Neurotoxin BMAA is a contributor to Wallerian-like degeneration, and its transcellular transmission
12.45 - 12.50 pmSian Genoud (5 min)
Copper-deficient SOD1 aggregation in Parkinson’s disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
12.50 - 12.55 pmStephanie Rayner (5 min)
Rapid, unbiased identification of protein inclusion components from patient post-mortem brain tissue using Biotinylation by Antibody Recognition (BAR)

12.55 – 1:55 pm

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

Session 3Chair - Dr Sandy Stayte
1:55 – 2:25 pm
Associate Professor Antony Cooper (30min)

Parkinson’s Disease: From disease mechanisms to biomarkers and clinical trials

2:25 – 2:55 pmDr Angela Laird  (30min)    
Treatment with sodium valproate is protective for models of spinocerebellar ataxia-3
2:55 – 3:10 pmDr Amanda Wright (15min)  
A Nanoparticle Based Strategy for Treating Inflammation in Motor Neuron Disease
3:10 – 3:15 pmDr Alison Hogan (5min)  
In vivo analysis of variant pathogenicity for the validation of novel motor neuron disease linked genes

3:15 - 3:45pm

Afternoon Tea & Trade Displays from our sponsor Olympus & Posters

Session 4 Chair - Professor Roger Chung
3:45  – 4:15 pm

Professor Tim Karl (30min)

New strategies for preclinical research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - using copper-zinc superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) transgenic mice as an example

4:15  – 4:45 pm
Professor Thomas Fath (30min)

Targeting the actin cytoskeleton to modulate the function of CNS neurons

4:45  – 5:00 pmGeorgia Watt (15min)  
Novel behavioural characteristics of male human P301S mutant tau transgenic mice - a model for tauopathy
5:00  – 5:05 pmMonokesh K. Sen (5min)
Behavioural and histological changes in cuprizone-fed mice
5:05 – 5:10 pmDr Wai Kuen Chow (5min)
A feasibility study of an ambulatory non-invasive ventilation (NIV) set up model using intelligent volume assured pressure support mode in MND

5:10  – 5:15 pm

Closing remarks by Professor Roger Chung

5:15  – 5:40 pm

Posters, Canapés & 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 Thomas Fath

Dementia Research Centre - Deputy Director

Macquarie University

Prof Fath is Deputy Director of the Dementia Research Centre in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia). Previous to this, he was the Head of the Neurodegeneration and Repair Unit (NRU) and Head of the Neuronal Culture Core Facility (NCCF) at UNSW. He received his PhD in 2002 from the University of Heidelberg, where he worked on the functional role of Tau phosphorylation in Alzheimer's disease. He then moved for his postdoctoral research to The Scripps Research Institute at La Jolla (USA) and the Children's Hospital at Westmead, shifting his research focus to the study of the actin cytoskeleton in neuronal function and morphogenesis. In 2009, he took on a Research & Teaching position in the School of Medical Sciences at UNSW Sydney, where he established an ARC and NHMRC-funded research program, investigating cytoskeleton-associated patho-mechanisms of Neurodegenerative diseases and mechanisms of neurite regeneration. He is now heading the Cellular Neurobiology Group in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia). The primary research focus of his lab is on the regulation of the cytoskeleton in injury and diseases of the central nervous system. For this, his team employs cell and tissue cultures and genetically modified mice, combined with advanced imaging technologies. His research team investigates the actin cytoskeleton as potential drug target to provide protection and promote regeneration in the injured or diseased nervous system.

See publications here

Associate Professor Antony Cooper

Head - Neurodegeneration & Neurogenomics Program & Director of the Australian Parkinson’s Mission

Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Associate Professor Antony Cooper did an undergraduate Honours degree at Otago University (New Zealand) and completed his PhD at McGill University before undertaking post-doctoral studies at the University of Oregon where as a cell and molecular biologist he investigated protein misfolding, cellular quality control, mitochondrial dysfunction and associated reactive oxygen species. These features coalesce prominently in Parkinson’s Disease and while a tenured faculty member at the University of Missouri he re-directed his research focus to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms of the disease. He returned to Australia in 2006 to join the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney where he has continued investigating the molecular mechanisms of the disease with emphasis on alpha-synuclein, and how it relates to known problems within the cells of patients. This work has expanded to extensive transcriptomics of relevant brain regions that has identified the contribution of both alternative splicing and non-coding RNAs to the disease. He is the Director of the Australian Parkinson’s Mission ( whose $30m MRFF funding is to integrate genomics, biomarkers and patient iPS cell phenotyping into disease modifying clinical trials to identify therapeutics that slow or stop disease progression in people with PD.

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).


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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