Forefront operates two research clinics with the aim of better understanding frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and motor neurone (MND) syndromes. These clinics allow translation of our research into clinical practice.
1. Our Clinics
FRONTIER is the only dedicated FTD clinic in Australia. It was established by Prof John Hodges in 2007 and receives 80-100 new patients annually for comprehensive research evaluation. Each patient is followed at 6-12 month intervals using clinic or home visits and/or questionnaires. Serial blood samples are collected for the establishment of cell lines, and DNA and serum extraction.
2. Cognition and neuroimaging
Assoc Prof Olivier Piquet has 10 years experience in clinical research combined with 20 years experience as a clinical neuropsychologist. Dr Michael Hornberger is an expert in imaging and interested in identifying the neural correlates of behavioural and cognitive symptoms in patients. They combine cognitive, imaging and neuropathological methods in their research.
A 3-Tesla Philips scanner is available at NeuRA to undertake a full range of grey and white matter tract imaging.
We aim to find out which functions of the brain and brain areas are first affected by FTD and MND, and improve clinical diagnostic procedures.
In order to develop effective interventions for people with FTD, tests to identify the type of cellular changes occurring in the brain need to be developed, especially for those with the initial symptoms of FTD and MND where treatments would be of the greatest benefit. We aim to achieve this by using biospecimens from DNA, blood and brain donations.
Ultimately our goal is to find a cure for these devastating conditions. Our current research goal is to develop an easily identifiable biological marker (a biomarker) that indicates the type of cellular changes occurring in the brain of each patient with FTD. In order to do this, we will be screening blood from people with FTD and MND for a broad array of cellular markers such as proteins that accumulate in the brain, and other molecules associated with cell degeneration. To develop these biomarkers, it is essential to use brain tissue.
Epigenetics is the study of how our environment influences the expression of our genes. My group has found a link between early life experiences and attention. Exposure to traumatic experiences in the early stages of life, including abuse or neglect, parental divorce or mental illness, and poverty, are known to influence the development of some mental illnesses. These early experiences also […]