13 Mar 2019

Translational Research Symposium Speaker Spotlight: Professor Alan Mackay-Sim

Professor Alan Mackay-Sim
Monash University's 5th annual Translational Research Symposium is being hosted by its three metropolitan clinical schools on 21 June 2019. The symposium will host a diverse group of medical researchers presenting their work into translational research. RSVP here.

The Keynote speaker for the event is Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, 2017 Australian of the Year and Professor Emeritus at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discover, Griffith University.
2017 Australian of the Year Alan Mackay-Sim is a neuroscientist and stem cell scientist. His research career has focused on how the sensory neurons in the nose are replaced and regenerated from stem cells. He is a world leader in spinal cord injury research. He led the Brisbane team in a world-first clinical trial in which the patient’s own olfactory cells were transplanted into their injured spinal cord in the first stages of a therapy to treat human paraplegia. Alan established the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research in 2006. He developed an adult stem cell bank from over 300 people with different neurological conditions including schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, mitochondrial mutation disorders, Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, ataxia telangiectasia and motor neuron disease. These stem cells are used to identify the biological bases of neurological diseases using genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and cell function assays and this work is leading to new drug therapies. In 2017 Alan received the Distinguished Achievement award from Australasian Neuroscience Society and in 2018 he was awarded the Neil Hamilton Fairley Medal by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Royal College of Physicians (Lond) for Outstanding Contribution to Medicine.

Professor Mackay-Sim's presentation abstract can be found below:
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Stem cells as brain disease models for drug discovery

After so many years of transgenic animal models, why don’t we have any successful disease-modifying drugs for brain diseases? Why have 100’s of phase III clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease and Motor Neuron Disease failed? Why are we still using drugs to treat symptoms of schizophrenia and not its causes? Why have cancer researchers been so successful in finding new treatments compared to neuroscientists? Perhaps for brain diseases we need to focus on cells, like cancer researchers, rather than brains, like neuroscientists. Patient-derived olfactory neural stem cells, generated from biopsies of the olfactory organ in the nose, give us a new way to understand brain diseases, including “monogenic” diseases (Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, familial Parkinson’s disease) and polygenic disease (schizophrenia and sporadic Parkinson’s disease). With these cells, we use the various “omics” to link disease-associated cell phenotypes with genetic mutations and use these phenotypes for drug discovery. Patient-derived neurons (from induced pluripotent stem cells) are used to validate disease-associated phenotypes.    
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We look forward to welcoming Professor Mackay-Sim for the Symposium!

More information:
Translational Research Symposium
  • Date: Friday 21 June 2019
  • Time: 8:30 for 9:00am start - 5:30pm close
  • RSVP here
Find out more about the symposium and our speaker program.

If you are a graduate student or early career researcher, you may be interested in the Young Investigator poster competition. See here for more details and to RSVP.



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