$1 million Myers Fellowship brings US research techniques to Melbourne

The Howard Florey Institute's inaugural Allan and Maria Myers Travel Fellowship has been awarded to world renowned neuroscientist, Prof Gerard Shaw, from the McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida College of Medicine.

Allan Myers and his wife Maria donated $1 million to the Howard Florey Institute in 2005 in an effort to foster international collaborations and attract world-class scientists to the Florey, which is Australia's leading brain research Institute.

Prof Shaw has a broad interest in neuroscience and will be working with the Florey's brain injury and repair, addiction, multiple sclerosis and Huntington's disease research groups between August and October 2006.

Prof Shaw said during his visit he hoped to share his knowledge with Florey scientists and teach them his specialised research techniques, which he is using to develop early diagnostic tools for brain disorders.

"Developing ways to diagnose brain diseases before symptoms appear are urgently needed so the onset and progression of symptoms can be delayed," Prof Shaw said.

"Through my research into the structural proteins of neurons and glial cells (cells that support neurons), I was led to biomarker research, which is the search for substances detectable in blood that can give insights into the presence and progression of diseases.

"Some of the structural proteins on which we work are detectable in blood following brain injury and degeneration, so we are now performing the basic research needed to see if this can be translated for clinical use.

"Potential uses would be the early detection of diseases like motor neuron disease and multiple sclerosis, as well as the rapid assessment of the seriousness of brain and spinal cord injuries.

"I was delighted to be invited to visit the Howard Florey Institute and I have been very impressed with its quality of research and scientific staff," he said.

During his visit, Prof Shaw will also deliver a public lecture entitled, 'Detecting and preventing brain damage in mice and men' at Newman College, University of Melbourne, on 24 August at 5:15pm (Phone Fiona Salisbury on +61 3 9342 1614 for details and registration).

Allan Myers said it was important to bring star scientists from around the world to Melbourne so the Florey scientists can learn different research techniques and discuss their findings.

"Collaboration is one of the best ways to accelerate research and by attracting some of the world's best scientists to the Florey we hope to speed up the search to find better treatments for brain disorders," Mr Myers said.

"Tapping into the knowledge of other scientists will also help the development of our younger scientists as they will learn different ways to approach their research," he said.

The Allan and Maria Myers Travel Fellowship was set up in perpetuity to attract key international researchers to the Institute, where they will work with senior scientists and students for periods of between one and three months.

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The Howard Florey Institute is Australia's leading brain research centre. Its scientists undertake clinical and applied research that can be developed into treatments to combat brain disorders, and new medical practices. Their discoveries will improve the lives of those directly, and indirectly, affected by brain and mind disorders in Australia, and around the world. The Florey's research areas cover a variety of brain and mind disorders including Parkinson's disease, stroke, motor neuron disease, addiction, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, autism and dementia.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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