Inaugural Melbourne Neuroscience Institute Fellows named

February 11 / 54

MNI Fellow Andrew Zalesky's work, depicting a network of damaged functional connections in people with schizophrenia.
MNI Fellow Andrew Zalesky's work, depicting a network of damaged functional connections in people with schizophrenia.

Dr Andrew Zalesky (Psychiatry) and Dr Peter Crouch (Pathology) have been named the inaugural Melbourne Neuroscience Institute (MNI) Fellows.

Their respective projects are ‘Neurobiological markers for machine-guided diagnosis in psychiatry’ and ‘In vivo studies on a novel therapeutic treatment for motor neuron disease’.

The MNI focuses University neuroscience activities which involve research across different disciplines.  Projects involve collaboration with researchers from areas including medicine, mental health, engineering, optometry and vision sciences, ophthalmology, law, economics, and social sciences.

The fellowships were awarded to outstanding researchers whose internationally competitive research excellence gives the University the opportunity to promote cross-disciplinary research in the neurosciences.

Director of the MNI Professor Trevor Kilpatrick said these fellowships provided an opportunity for the University to promote its strategic areas of research.

“The fellows will be instrumental in facilitating the coming together of academic staff from across disciplines to work on projects consistent with our broad research objectives,” he said.

Dr Andrew Zalesky’s work involves the further development of research links between psychiatry and computer science. He said he applied for the fellowship because many of his postdoctoral research aims aligned well with the fellowship’s objectives. 

“Working alongside psychiatrists and specialist medical researchers gave me access to cutting-edge data sets and insight into relevant problems hampering the analysis of these data sets,” he said.

“This was a mutually beneficial partnership: I had unparalleled access to clinical neuroimaging data, which enabled me to develop, test and deliver relevant quantitative tools and processing techniques, and my tools were then put into practice by clinical researchers to better understand the biological basis of debilitating psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.

“This fellowship will enable me to establish more new methods for the processing and analysis of neuroimaging data and assist researchers in adopting these methods.”

Dr Peter Crouch said because the standard of competition for the MNI Fellowships was exceptionally high, he felt privileged to have received one.  

His research focuses on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and motor neuron disease.

“While these diseases have a massive impact on the people affected, their families and our health care systems, effective therapeutic treatments do not exist,” he said.

“By exploring the basic biology of neurodegenerative diseases and testing potential new treatment strategies, my work will one day, I hope, lead to the availability of effective therapeutics. 

“This type of work is most productive when performed within a strong collaborative research environment, and the Melbourne Neuroscience Institute brings together Australia’s best neuroscientists from a broad range of clinical and research backgrounds.” 

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