There are no treatments or cures for Motor Neuron Disease, and most people with the illness die three to five years after diagnosis. For the past 10 years Associate Professor Dickson’s group at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research has been investigating the fundamental mechanisms of this devastating disease, trying to unravel the causes and determine where it begins. In the next three years they will be using this knowledge to perform critical research to determine whether they can repurpose an existing drug for the treatment of MND. This work takes them one more step along the translation pipeline from the bench to the bedside – in this case from the laboratory to the clinic. A/Prof Dickson’s presentation will reflect on her research journey, the unexpected findings, the challenges and the rewards.
Associate Professor Dickson (BSc, PhD) is a neuroscientist with a national and international reputation in determining the pathological basis underlying Motor Neuron Disease, Parkinson’s disease and the neuronal response to trauma. She is the Deputy Director and Associate Director for Research at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research and Leader of the Neurodegenerative disease and Trauma Theme. She leads an ambitious and productive research team at Menzies consisting of three post-docs, six PhD students, one research assistant and one honours student. Associate Professor Dickson was previously an National Health and Medical Research Council Career Development Fellow (2008-2012), and Early Career Postdoctoral Fellow (2001-2004), where she spent two years at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. A/Prof Dickson’s work has resulted in 70 original research papers and she has secured competitive funding for her research of over $7.5 million. A/Prof Dickson has an excellent record in supervising RHD students, with 13 PhD completions.