Research Areas

The NSW BTRC has users of tissue both nationally and internationally. Some of the major research areas that utilise NSW BTRC tissue include:

Alcohol-related Disorders

Professor Adron Harris leads of large research group at the Waggoner Center for Alcohol & Addiction Research at The University of Texas at Austin. They are investigating the molecular actions of drugs of abuse on brain signaling systems and the genetics of alcohol susceptibility. Along with his associates Dayne Mayfield and Igor Ponomarev are applying new genomic tools for profiling alcohol use disorders.

Professor Fulton Crews, the director of the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies heads a dynamic group investigating how the impact of chronic drinking induces structural and functional changes associated with binge drinking. Recent studies have suggested that neuroinflammation may contribute to degeneration and loss of neurogenesis during binge drinking. They have also found that heavy alcohol use damages cortical brain regions associated with impulse control and planning capabilities.

Professor Georgy Bakalkin’s group at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University are researching the endogenous opioid system (EOS) that has been strongly implicated in the positive and negative reinforcing effects of alcohol.

Dr Greg Sutherland from The University of Sydney, in collaboration with Professor Jillian Kril, is investigating neurogenesis in the alcoholic brain. Evidence from rodents suggests that chronic alcohol consumption impairs brain neurogenesis, but it is unclear whether this is the case in humans, or indeed whether significant neurogenesis occurs in older adult brains.

Professor Kril has demonstrated the extent and topography of cortical neuronal loss in alcoholics and the contribution of associated thiamin and other nutritional deficiencies. She developed techniques to undertake volumetric analysis of postmortem brains and pioneered the use of stereological methodology in alcohol-related brain damage. Her paper on the evidence of regionally-specific neuronal loss in the cerebral cortex of alcoholics (Kril et al Neuroscience 1997), remains one of the most highly-cited studies on this topic.


Professor Cyndi Shannon-Weickert is based at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA). Her research group is focused on the molecular developmental neurobiology of schizophrenia. They are exploring the molecular mechanism of how alterations in estrogen receptor and neuregulin may act to bring about schizophrenia by examining human brain tissue and primary neuronal culture. They are also directly analyzing human genomic DNA and performing comparative genomic studies that are aimed at more clearly pinpointing DNA sequence variations in susceptibility genes that may be critical in determining the vulnerability to schizophrenia. She is Australia's first Chair of Schizophrenia, a role supported by the Schizophrenia Research Institute.

Dr Kelly Newell is based at The University of Wollongong. Her research focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and depression as well as identify and investigate the potential of novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Dr Newell's research aims to understand Dr Newell has a strong interest in the glutamatergic system and its relevance to psychiatric illness and the implication of the metabotropic glutamate system in particular, in both the pathology and treatment of psychiatric illness.

Neurological Disorders

Professor Glenda Halliday is a prominent researcher currently working on the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases at theNeuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA). Her research has highlighted broader pathological involvement in Parkinson's disease and especially in dementia with Lewy bodies. She is also the Director of the Sydney Brain Bank, located at NeuRA.

Professor Kril is a chief investigator in a program of research led by Professor Glenda Halliday from NeuRA, on the pathogenesis of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and motor neurodegenerative syndromes, investigating the associated proteinopathies and clinicopathological correlations. The ultimate goal of this research program is to develop a platform for therapeutic intervention with disease-modifying therapies. This requires an understanding of the pathogenesis of the protein abnormalities to be treated, as well as the ability to clinically identify the patients with the various proteinopathies.