NHMRC Grant success

19 December 2023
2023 Brain and Mind Centre Investigator and Ideas grants
Collaborative and cross-disciplinary research has been recognised, with six Brain and Mind Centre researchers awarded the highly competitive NHMRC Investigator and Ideas grants for 2023.

The six NHMRC grant recipients have been recognised for research that cuts across disciplines and industry sectors to target disorders of the brain and mind. The recipients were among 51 grants awarded to researchers across the University of Sydney and part of an outstanding success rate of researchers from the university’s multidisciplinary initiatives.

The grants aim to foster flexibility for investigators to pursue important new research directions, and the ability to form collaborations for innovative and creative research. Now in its eighth year as a multidisciplinary initiative, the Brain and Mind Centre is thrilled to see so many of our researchers awarded with such competitive grants.

Co-directors Professor Ian Hickie and Professor Matthew Kiernan said the success in this round was a testament to the quality of their research, as well as to the cross-cutting research programs they have developed and the opportunities they have fostered for their research teams; 

“These are highly competitive grants, and we congratulate the recipients on their hard work, commitment and perseverance in their research. Their work reflects the multidisciplinary nature of our MDI and its mission statement.”
Co-Director of the Brain and Mind Centre, Ian Hickie.

Brain and Mind Investigators

Professor Muireann Irish was awarded $2.7 million towards her project- Enhancing the early and accurate diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia. 

This program will address Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and the knowledge gap by creating new clinical tools with improved diagnostic precision. Outcomes will transform the early detection of FTD, enabling us to intervene quickly, improve access to support, and decrease the physical and mental health burden of this condition.

Professor Leanne Togher received $2.5 million towards her project; Delivering technology-enabled care for people with acquired brain injury at scale. 

This program will deliver new methods to access healthcare, employment and social engagement using technology, and new models of care.

Associate Professor Laura Piccio received $2.9 million towards; Targeting neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative diseases: an integrated approach to study pathogenic mechanisms and develop new treatments. 

The research program proposed will focus on dissecting the potential roles of diet, gut microbiome, and metabolism in modulating neuroinflammation across different neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. 

Doctor Nick Everett received $700,000 towards; Developing novel strategies for stimulating the oxytocin system to treat methamphetamine addiction.

This project will develop new clinically viable strategies for stimulating the oxytocin system to treat methamphetamine addiction.

Brain and Mind Ideas grants

Professor Michael Kassiou received $1 million; to develop senolytics for the treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. 

When the body senses damaged cells, it can usually eliminate them, but dangerous senescent cells upregulate proteins such as Bcl-2 and Bcl-xl which make them resistant to the body’s elimination processes. This project will develop novel Bcl-2 and Bcl-xl inhibitors which selectively eliminate these senescent cells without eliminating healthy cells to examine the role of senescence in ALS and to develop new ALS treatments. 


Dr Sicong Tu received $900,000 to assist in defining metabolite dysfunction in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The grant will study neurochemical changes underlying excess brain activity (cortical hyperexcitability) in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the most common form of motor neuron disease.

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