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The main research interests of this research group are the pathogenesis of neurological and psychiatric disorders. We have research projects studying neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), motor neuron disease (MND) and Lewy body diseases, as well as alcohol-related brain damage, schizophrenia and brain tumours. Using a variety of histological and molecular techniques we aim to understand the clinicopathological correlations of central nervous system diseases and the role of genes in the causation of these diseases.
The Unit also plays a major role in research facilitation as it houses the NSW Tissue Resource centre (NSW TRC) and the Australian MND DNA bank. The facilities provide tissue and DNA form well-characterised patients with neurological disease as well as controls to researchers, nationally and internationally.
In addition to its research interests, the group has close links with SSWAHS and is involved in neuropathology service delivery for surgical and muscle pathology, is the state referral service for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and offers a consultancy service for specialist neuropathology. The Unit also hosts an annual Postgraduate Neuropathology course for trainees in medical specialties.
New South Wales Tissue Resource Centre (TRC) as a resource of human brain materials
Much of our knowledge about the pathogenesis of brain diseases comes from the use of human autopsy brain tissue that has been systematically collected, characterised and distributed from brain banks. The New South Wales Tissue Resource Centre (TRC) collects brain and spinal cord tissue from prospectively studied donors, and patients with a history of schizophrenia or alcohol misuse. Tissues are prepared in a variety of ways to maximize their benefit to medical research and made available to researchers interested in studying the human brain. Further information about the TRC and associated brain donor program is available on their website.
Australian MND DNA Bank
This Bank, funded by an Enabling Grant from the NHMRC and situated at the University of Sydney, has been collecting blood DNA samples from people with Motor Neuron Disease, as well as from controls, for over 5 years. The Bank now contains almost 3,000 DNA samples from people in all the states of Australia. The Bank will not be collecting samples from new donors after June 2011.