Professor Matthew Kiernan leads the Neurosciences Stream for Sydney Health Partners alongside Professor Craig Anderson. Below Professor Kiernan outlines what the Neurosciences stream is trying to achieve and how their work can help people with inflammatory neurological diseases, as well as people with dementia and neurodegradation. Inflammatory neurological diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, produce severe disability and represent a costly burden to the health system. Dementia is also a major public health challenge which will dramatically increase in the coming decades with an aging population.
What are you working on?
We are currently working on two projects. The first is around inflammatory neurological diseases and identifying the antibodies across different parts of the nervous system that may cause these diseases; and the second is ensuring that research findings in the areas of dementia and neurodegeneration are translated into treatments for patients with these conditions.
Why are you undertaking this research?
Inflammatory neurological diseases produce severe disability and represent a costly burden to the healthcare system, but the causes remain unknown. Recent evidence from our team suggests that antibodies across different parts of the nervous system are critically involved. The project aims to identify these specific targets and monitor treatment responsiveness, stabilise brain and nerve function, to thereby prevent disability.
Dementia and neurodegeneration are a major public health challenge. They have devastating impacts on quality of life and are a tremendous burden on the health care system. The burgeoning population of people with dementia and neurodegenerative disorders will dramatically increase in Australia over the next decades with population ageing. This program will rapidly translate research findings into treatment tools that are deployed both into tertiary clinics and entities that will ensure broad uptake of these services and/or technologies for patients.
Who are you trying to help?
We are trying to help people with neuroinflammatory disorders, as well as people with dementia by understanding causes and developing new treatments.
How does being part of a collaborative partnership like Sydney Health Partners help you to achieve more than you would be able to individually?
We are working across the three local health districts that make up Sydney Health Partners – the Sydney, Northern Sydney and Western Sydney Local Health Districts – as well as the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network (The Children’s Hospital at Westmead) and the University of Sydney. Collaboration is key to our work, and Sydney Health Partners gives us an important platform for collaborating and increasing our reach.