New research into Parkinson’s disease

New research into Parkinson’s disease

Illuminate newsletter index page, September 2019
September 2019

Associate Professor Grant Dewson and Mr Jonathan Bernardini
Associate Professor Grant Dewson and Mr Jonathan
Bernardini (L-R) are part of the Institute's multidisciplinary
research team tackling Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease caused by the loss of brain cells (neurons) that are responsible for making a key chemical in the brain called dopamine.

A lack of dopamine severely impairs your ability to control movement and in some cases Parkinson’s disease can also lead to dementia.

Therapies urgently needed

Around 80,000 Australians suffer from Parkinson's disease.

The health impact and socio-economic burden of the disease continues to increase with our ageing population. The Institute is expanding its Parkinson’s disease research to address the urgent need for diagnostic tests that can detect the disease early, and for new treatments that stop or slow disease progression.

Why neurons die in Parkinson’s disease is unclear. There are currently no treatments to slow disease progression, and there is no cure. Often patients are diagnosed when 70 per cent of neurons are already lost. At this point, the only course of action is to use prescription drugs to alleviate symptoms.

A generous gift

The Bodhi Education Fund, passionate supporters of the Institute, have generously committed $500,000 to a Centenary Fellowship supporting Associate Professor Grant Dewson, who researches Parkinson’s disease at the Institute.

Associate Professor Dewson said the Institute’s researchers would take a multidisciplinary and patient-centric approach to tackling Parkinson’s disease.

“The program will harness the Institute’s strong clinical partnerships, renowned expertise in proteomics, genomics, structural biology and drug discovery, and our pioneering research in inflammation and cell death,” he said.

“Importantly, by discovering the root cause of Parkinson’s disease – determining why nerve cells die – we hope to solve the mystery to slowing or stopping the disease."

Support our research

If you would like to learn more about how you can support Parkinson’s disease research and other vital research into healthy development and ageing, contact 03 9345 2403 or

Super Content: 
Two male researchers standing in a laboratory

Our researchers have revealed how a key protein protects against the death of neurons that occurs in Parkinson's disease.

Professor David Komander pictured giving a presentation

Professor David Komander provides an introduction to the ubiquitin code and its potential for tackling diseases such as Parkinson's disease.