Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka

Neuroimaging biomarker targets and discovery of therapeutics to reduce the risk of dementia in Parkinson’s disease

Bio and overview: Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka is a NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellow, and has over 15 years’ experience in conducting large scale clinical research in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and dementia. She leads the Dementia and Neuro Mental Health Research Unit at UQCCR, and holds affiliated appointments with School of Psychology, UQ and Neurology, RBWH. Her research dedicates to improve diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychiatric manifestations in PD and uses neuroimaging and biofeedback mechanisms to optimise treatment outcomes. Despite career interruptions for maternity leave and 0.6FTE part-time work since 2016, Dr Dissanayaka has held 17 research grants (12 CIA grants; 8 clinical trials and 8 neuroimaging grants), and 3 fellowships within 10 years post PhD for research into PD and dementia. Her research impact is demonstrated by publishing 82% of her articles in Q1 journals, 29% of publications in top 10% most cited worldwide, and having a field weighted citation impact of 2.15 in Social Science and 1.15 in Medicine (SciVal 03/2021). Under her supervision, 20 higher degree students have completed thesis, and 7 are current PhD students. In 2020, she was awarded the UQCCR outstanding PhD supervisor award. She has demonstrated substantial leadership and has multidisciplinary training in pharmacology, neuroimaging, neurology and psychiatry research, and clinical trials. She will discuss her research examining neuroimaging bio marker targets and therapeutic discovery aiming to reduce the risk of dementia in PD.


Dr Aven Lee

Possible role of gut toxins in MND pathogenesis

Bio: Dr Aven Lee is a post-doctoral scientist from Professor Pamela McCombe’s group at UQCCR. Aven is a UQ graduate and his research focusses on the mechanisms that control amino acids or their derivatives that normally act as neurotransmitters in the CNS. However, excess concentrations of such can lead to excitation of neurons that lead to a state of exhaustion and death (a pathological process called excitotoxicity). He has a particular interest in glutamate excitotoxicity as it relates to diseases such as Motor Neuron Disease (MND). Aven has been working with staff from the mass spectrometry facility at UQCCR to established workflows currently used in Prof McCombe’s group for measuring excitotoxins and neurotoxins in the blood and brain tissue samples from MND patients. His other research projects include proteomic investigation of blood biomarkers and characterization of the key perturbation pathways underlying MND.

About CCR Seminars

The UQ Centre of Clinical Research Seminars (CCR) are held fortnightly on Wednesdays from 12pm - 1pm (except during school holidays) currently on Zoom. The series features topics in multiple fields of research, presented by invited international, interstate and local researchers.


UQCCR Auditorium or zoom (https://uqz.zoom.us/j/87198801358)
UQCCR Auditorium or zoom (https://uqz.zoom.us/j/87198801358)