The ultimate goal of the Brain Research Group is to develop therapies which will minimise neurological injury and improve infant outcome through a better understanding of the mechanisms of cell injury and death.

A severe hypoxic/ischemic insult to the developing infant brain carries with it a high risk of neurological disability and in some cases death. In Australia approximately 3.5% of all perinatal deaths are due to asphyxia. The development of neural rescue therapies will result in less disabilities. However the opportunity to improve long-term outcome may only last 12 to 24 hours following a hypoxic insult. It is therefore necessary to rapidly identify infants at risk of a poor neurodevelopmental outcome so that potential benefits of neural rescue therapies can be maximised. Currently there is no technique available which can accurately identify these infants within the required time period. We have several projects aimed at finding the neccessary new techniques.

The numerous physiological and biochemical events that arise as a consequence of oxygen and glucose deprivation in hypoxia-ischemia, offer the potential for reducing neurological damage through interruption or possibly termination of neuronal cell death. In order to develop a clinical strategy to manage hypoxic-ischemic disease successfully, a greater understanding is needed of the complex processes which underlie hypoxic-ischemic neuronal pathology and dysfunction.

Current research interests of the PRC Brain Research Group include:

  • Neuroprotection - including hypothermia and the use of pharmacological agents as a rescue therapy
  • Neonatal seizures - detection and treatment
  • Mechanisms of HI brain injury - inflammation and excitotoxicity
  • Brain injury in the intrauterine growth restricted neonate
  • Effects of nutrition and the environment on preterm brain development
  • Tracking preterm brain development with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and EEG
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD)

With research driven from different perspectives focused on a better understanding of the mechanisms of cell injury, death and repair, our ultimate goal is to develop therapies to improve infant outcomes.