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Molecular Horizons-impression 2x1
World’s biggest health challenges to be confronted in Wollongong

UOW announces world-leading $80m molecular and life sciences research centre.

The city of Wollongong, south of Sydney, is set to become a hub of revolutionary medical research and discovery following the launch today (19 October 2016) of UOW’s plans for a world-leading research facility.

Molecular Horizons: the University of Wollongong’s $80 million Centre of Molecular and Life Sciences and its biggest ever self-funded research infrastructure investment, was launched at Parliament House in Canberra by Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE and distinguished guests before a gathering of Australian political leaders, international dignitaries and prominent members of Australia’s medical and scientific community.  Read more...

October 2016 

Antipsychotics - Mini

Antipsychotic use in childhood could have significant long-term effects

The use of antipsychotic medication in childhood and the teenage years could have significant long-term impacts on behaviours later in life, particularly in males, a new study has found. 

The research, conducted by neuroscientists at UOW and the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI), was recently published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. It looked at the enduring impacts of three commonly prescribed antipsychotic drugs, Aripiprazole, Olanzapine and Risperidone, on the brains of young healthy rats.

The researchers found long-term alterations to a number of adult behaviours, including changes to activity levels as well as changes in depressive-like behaviours and anxiety levels.   

PhD student Michael De Santis (pictured above), an Australian Rotary Health scholarship recipient from the Antipsychotic Research Laboratory and the School of Medicine, who led the study, said the drugs had a more profound impact on male rats.

This media story was also featured on
22 June: ABC News | Radio Australia | ABC AM Current Affairs Program
3 June: Illawarra Mercury

Justin Yerbury

New gene link provides hope to families with Motor Neurone Disease

Breakthrough in our understanding of MND will lead to a new genetic test for the fatal disorder.

Researchers at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and UOW have contributed to a breakthrough in our understanding of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) which will lead to the development of a new genetic test for the fatal disorder.

As reported to Nature Communications this week, a 70-strong research team led by Associate Professor Ian Blair from Macquarie University’s Australian School of Advanced Medicine and including IHMRI MND expert Dr Justin Yerbury have, for the first time, linked a gene called CCNF to MND and Frontotemporal dementia (FTD). 

Ten per cent of people who contract MND are able to trace it to a family member. Of this familial cohort, around 70 per cent have mutations in genes previously linked to MND such as SOD1, TDP43, FUS and C9ORF72, meaning that individuals and family members can be tested for the presence of these mutations.  

However, for the remaining 30 per cent without these gene mutations, tests are either inconclusive or unavailable. 

April 2016

Roger Trustcott

Research raises questions on the cause of Alzheimer’s disease

Current thinking on treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s may be called into question following new finding.

Conventional wisdom on the cause of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and current thinking on treatment strategies, may be called into question by the publication of a scientific paper suggesting that the real culprit may be slow changes to plaque in the brain that simply happen with time.  

As reported to the journal Analytical Chemistry, researchers from the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, based on the University of Wollongong campus, and the Save Sight Institute at the Sydney Eye Hospital, applied their knowledge and expertise of other diseases of ageing, such as cataract, to examine changes to the composition of proteins in the human brain.

March 2016

Last reviewed: 18 August, 2017