Understanding the brain and the mind is a fundamental challenge. The Institute embraced technology to understand the brain and develop advanced therapies. Interdisciplinary research included learning from the self-healing zebrafish in the quest to aid the repair of brain cells, and using copper therapy to help those with motor neurone disease.
The Melbourne Neuroscience Institute (MNI) strengthened research, partnerships and initiatives in neuroscience and related disciplines.
MNI enabled projects ranging from pushing the boundaries of man-machine interface in the realm of biomedical engineering, examined music therapy to ease disease burden in Alzheimer’s and dementia, and discovered the role cannabis plays in reducing seizures in children with severe epilepsy.
Key initiatives include Stem Cells Australia, The Melbourne Brain Centre Imaging Unit, the Music Mind and Wellbeing Initiative and the Australian Dementia Network.
The MNI provided postdoctoral research fellowships and established the Melbourne Neuroscience PhD Program. It also supported a range of innovative research, commercial and education programs, including:
Stem Cells Australia
Stem Cells Australia tackles the big questions in stem cell science. It links experts in bioengineering, nanotechnology, stem cell biology, advanced molecular analysis and clinical research.
- Explores the fundamental mechanisms involved in stem cell regulation and differentiation
- Translates knowledge into innovative biotechnological and therapeutic applications
- Debates the ethical, legal and social issues associated with stem cell science
- Fosters the next generation of stem cell scientists.
It has led scientific breakthroughs in a range of areas. From improving blood stem cell collection to converting cell types to growing a kidney in laboratory dish.
Melbourne Brain Centre Imaging Unit
The Melbourne Brain Centre Imaging Unit (MBCIU) houses one of only two 7Tesla MRI scanners in Australia. The scanner provides unprecedented structural, functional and molecular detail about the brain.
The scanner helps researchers analyse and understand Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress and other neurological disorders.
The MBCIU supports research including:
- Imaging sodium in different parts of the brain
- Predicting the onset of dementia using Positron Emission Tomography
- Developing methods for measuring magnetic susceptibility in the brain.
The Melbourne Neuroscience PhD Program
The Melbourne Neuroscience PhD Program is offered for PhD students across the University to come together in the area of neuroscience. The program is training the next generation of neuroscientists and includes opportunities for dedicated mentorship and an internship experience, preparing them to effectively engage with industry and improve graduate career outcomes.
The program is based at the University in heart of the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct close to key partner organisations including hospitals, research institutes and industry partners.
Music, Mind and Wellbeing
The Music, Mind and Wellbeing program links neuroscience, music and social wellbeing. Researchers collaborate across science, health, education, industry and the community.
The program has three main research strands:
- Music neuroscience
- Music education
- Health and wellbeing
Leading researchers work on projects including:
- brain mechanisms involved in listening to and engaging in music
- social factors involved in music learning and participation
- therapeutic application of music for health and wellbeing
- advanced music theory and technology.
Music is being used as medicine to help people with dementia and Alzheimer’s address distressing symptoms such as agitation and depression.
Researchers from areas including Medicine, Mental Health, Music, Engineering, Optometry and Vision Sciences, Social Sciences, Ophthalmology, Law and Economics were key to the success of MNI.
Working with Siemens, IBM, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, and the CSIRO, researchers harnessed technology to translate research into health and teaching outcomes for institutional, hospital and commercial partners.
MNI supported projects through interdisciplinary seed funding and postdoctoral research fellowships. It focused on enhancing existing research as well as emerging opportunities.