$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.


Contact: Merrin Rafferty
Research Australia

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