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World-beaters join Brain and Mind Centre to defeat dementia

26 October 2016
Translating research into therapies for healthy brains and minds

Three world-leading neuroscience scholars are joining the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre to progress research-led treatments for dementia and other neuro-degenerative diseases affecting human memory and thinking.

Professor Glenda Halliday, Professor John Hodges and Professor Olivier Piguet bring a significant team of researchers, PhD students and professional staff to the Brain and Mind Centre, recognised internationally as a pre-eminent multidisciplinary facility that spans pre-clinical, clinical and translational research.

“A major reason for joining the University of Sydney is that we are at a critical stage of translating many of our research projects into neurological research clinics with the aims of testing new diagnostic methods and preclinical treatment evaluations,” Professor Halliday said.

Professor Halliday is a specialist in the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases, a senior principal research fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council, a past president of the Australian Neuroscience Society and part of the Academy of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

“We want to build on the close collaborations and successful working relationships we already enjoy with staff at a number of the Brain and Mind Centre’s diverse neurological clinics,” she said. “Together with Sydney Local Health District and facilities at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, the Brain and Mind Centre is developing new dementia clinics perfectly suited to our research purposes.”

The recruitment of this outstanding group of scholars forms part of our broader university strategy to harness our research excellence for the public good.
Professor Duncan Ivison, DVC Reseaerch

Also leading the move to the University is Professor John Hodges, who leads a multidisciplinary research group focused on aspects of frontotemporal dementia. Professor Hodges has authored 500 papers on aspects of memory, language and dementia, in addition to six books. Professor Hodges is a former lecturer in behaviour neurology at the University of Cambridge.

Joining Professor Halliday and Professor Hodges at the Brain and Mind Centre is Professor Olivier Piguet – an international expert on cognitive and clinical changes in pathological brain ageing who has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles on this topic. His research has recently focused on the biological correlates of deficits in social cognition and memory in frontotemporal dementia and related conditions.

In welcoming the team of leading neuroscientists, Co-Director of the Brain and Mind Centre, Professor Ian Hickie AM said: “Having teams of leading clinicians and scientists working closely with patients and families affected by brain and mind disorders means we have the greatest chance of making a real difference. I’m delighted that Professor Glenda Halliday, Professor John Hodges and Professor Olivier Piguet and their team of talented researchers and professional staff are joining us in this critical endeavor.”

Echoing the welcome, Professor Duncan Ivison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, added:  “The recruitment of this outstanding group is another important development for our multi-disciplinary Brain and Mind Centre as it pursues an agenda of both fundamental and translational research to deliver better mental health to our community. It forms part of our broader university strategy to harness our research excellence for the public good”.

Chief Executive of Sydney Local Health District, Dr Teresa Anderson, added: "Sydney Local Health District is thrilled to have Glenda join our translational research team. Having Glenda join an already high calibre translational research team on this campus will be a significant benefit to patients and the delivery of health care in SLHD. The work Glenda and the team are doing will be another boost to Sydney Research and Sydney Health Partners."

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