University of Melbourne

The Melbourne Neuroscience Institute (MNI) is the principal body for the promotion of cross disciplinary research in the Neurosciences at the University of Melbourne. It continues to strengthen links between neuroscientists and those engaged in related disciplines within the academy of the University including psychiatrists, psychologists, engineers, mathematicians, physical scientists and also those engaged with the social sciences. The MNI also continues to support initiatives in Stem Cell Science, Neural Engineering, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Dementia, Traumatic Brain Injury and Music. These initiatives are now unequivocally integrated into the activities of our Neuroscience community, alongside our established, internationally renowned expertise in areas such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia.

Stem Cells Australia
The harnessing of stem cell biology to study the function of neural networks in vitro keeps our neuroscientists at the cutting edge, for example those who are studying the pathogenesis of epilepsy and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

The Melbourne Brain Centre Imaging Unit
Research undertaken on 7 Tesla MRI and PET-CT scanners is progressing well and involves a mature synthesis of basic development work including novel ways to optimise the performance of ultrahigh field MRI, as well as new clinical applications.

The Centre for Neural Engineering
The team continues to undertake world leading research in the development of microsensor technology and its application to monitoring the activity of neurological disease. The Helium ion microscope within the CfNE and the application of nanodiamond technology to cell biology continue to provide our investigators with a rare opportunity to visualise the microstructure of the biological systems they work with at unparalleled resolution.

Music, Mind and Wellbeing
This initiative has continued its successful partnership with the Melbourne Recital Centre to deliver the ‘Music on the Mind’ seminar series and continues to voice the importance of music to the general community, to education and to medical rehabilitation. Cutting edge research performed by the group is also increasing our understanding of the factors underpinning rare musical talent and how to optimise it. The initiative also provides insights into how music is appreciated as a key cognitive process.

Yulgilbar Alzheimer’s Research Program Young Clinicians’ Network
This initiative is sponsored by the Yulgilbar, Myer, Portland House and CF Leung Foundations and is managed by MNI. The initiative aims to promote clinically oriented dementia research in the hospital environment, whilst also advancing the academic careers of Early Career Clinical Researchers through collaborative interaction. The initiative includes a focus on the genetic determinants of young onset dementia; analysis of the factors that promote protection against dementia even in the presence of genetic predisposition to Alzheimer disease; the influence that vascular disease exerts upon the phenotype of Alzheimer disease; predictors of outcome for those suffering from dementia with Lewy bodies; and novel biomarkers of Alzheimer disease. The initiative is bolstered by the dedicated involvement of the Myer Family, in particular of Mr Baillieu Myer AC and his daughter, Mrs Samantha Baillieu.

The University continues to optimise its postgraduate researcher educational experience with the inception of the University of Melbourne Neuroscience PhD Program. The program is being developed in 2017 for launch in 2018 and will comprise several new key components that will collectively potentiate graduate researcher recruitment and deliver an integrated and interdisciplinary student experience beyond the core thesis project. This program derives from the highly successful advanced workshop program that MNI has coordinated which extends to the provision of scholarships for secondment to our academic partner, the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in Calgary. In addition, we have further strengthened our international links through academic workshops conducted in collaboration with our partners at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute focusing on epilepsy and with the ICM Institute for Brain and Spinal Cord Research in Paris focusing on dementia and behavioural science.

We are also particularly proud of our vibrant public engagement program and of the continuing enrichment of the experience that we are able to provide to our graduate researchers and staff involved in neuroscience-oriented research. In so doing, we continue to assist our researchers to develop their creative ideas, to strive for excellence and to publicise their achievements to the community at large.