29/09/22 - Early career neuroscientist Dr Alex Tang has become the first Western Australian recipient of a Young Investigator Grant from New York’s Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.
The goal of this program is to help promising neuroscientists launch their independent research careers.
Dr Tang is a team leader in the Brain Plasticity Research group led by Associate Professor Jennifer Rodger at the WA-based Perron Institute and The University of Western Australia. The competitive grant is his first international funding as a postdoctoral researcher.
The $100,000 grant (over two years) will fund an investigation into how magnetic brain stimulation enhances neural plasticity in the human brain and how it can assist in treating depression.
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a popular treatment for depression as it is non-invasive and well tolerated, but not all patients experience improved outcomes.
“It is unclear why the therapeutic effect varies substantially,” Dr Tang said.
“The aim of this research project is to improve the efficacy of rTMS treatment, with an overall goal of improving the lives of people with depression worldwide.
“We hope to provide clinicians with an evidence base to predict reliably which neurological symptoms and which patients will benefit from rTMS treatment for depression.
“I’m thrilled with my Young Investigator grant as applications are reviewed by top neuroscientists and psychiatrists internationally. The grant recognises the innovative work my students and I are doing.”
Dr Tang will be collaborating with his PhD student (UWA and Perron Institute), Rebecca Ong, an Australian Rotary Health Scholar, and Paul Croarkin, Professor of Psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic Depression Center in Minnesota, USA.
They will use spatial transcriptomics, a new technique that maps gene expression in brain samples, to investigate how rTMS induces human brain plasticity and how this varies in patient populations.
The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation is committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances in scientific research. It is the largest US non-government provider of mental health research grants, and historically, only one or two Australians annually are funded by the Foundation.
Photo: Dr Alex Tang IMAGE CREDIT: KELLY PILGRIM-BYRNE
Tennille Kroemer, Communications Manager, Perron Institute
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Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science
For over 40 years, the Perron Institute (WA’s longest established medical research institute) has continued to build its reputation as a world-class medical research institute which has made significant breakthroughs across a broad spectrum of neurological conditions.
Perron Institute has facilities within the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands and Murdoch University in Perth, and brings together laboratory scientists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, clinical psychologists, physiotherapists and other health professionals to tackle the major challenges in neurology.