UQ is championing neuroscience research, with the primary aim of understanding the fundamental mechanisms of brain function at all levels – from development to function and disease. At UQ, this is being addressed by researchers in a number of schools and faculties as well as at dedicated research facilities such as the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI). Understanding brain function requires a multifaceted approach, and at UQ this is facilitated by bringing together specialists in a range of fields, including biology, genetics, psychology and mathematics. In addition, UQ has a wide network of partners and collaborators, which includes clinicians, medical and allied health practitioners, educators and engineers. These relationships enable the translation of basic discoveries into therapeutics and tools for the treatment of disease.

Our breakthroughs and successes are underpinned by outstanding academic researchers, including two Fellows of the Royal Society, four Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science, two Fellows of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, one Australian Laureate Fellow, four NHMRC Research Fellows, six Future Fellows, and two former Australian Research Council Federation Fellows.

UQ also has impressive international research partnerships, including three joint neuroscience laboratories in China: one of these, with the Second Military Medical University in Shanghai, has allowed for the establishment of the Joint Sino-Australian Neurogenetics Laboratory. This collaboration provides access to large patient populations, and will elucidate the genetic basis of a range of brain disorders such as motor neurone disease, dementia, anxiety and depression. The two other collaborations are both joint initiatives between UQ and the Chinese Academy of Sciences: the Joint Laboratory of Neuroscience and Cognition was established in partnership with the Institute of Biophysics in Beijing, while the Sino-Australian Laboratory of the Brainnetome is with the Institute of Automation, also in Beijing. Further collaborative links, including a student exchange programme and joint workshops, have been established with the Munich Centre for Neurosciences through the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

Neuroscience research occurs at:

  • Queensland Brain Institute
  • Institute for Molecular Bioscience
  • Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
  • Centre for Advanced Imaging
  • Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences
  • Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Science
  • ARC Science of Learning Centre
  • CRC for Australians Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders 

UQ has particular expertise in the areas of:

  • Development and Growth of Nerve Cells
  • Brain Plasticity
  • Mechanisms of Attention, Learning and Memory
  • Ageing Dementia and Neurodegenerative Disorders
  • Sensory Systems

Neurosciences in brief

  • More than 60 full-time equivalent researchers, with collaborators in fields including psychology and cognitive science, and education
  • More than 830 publications since 2008
  • More than $130.5 million in research funding since 2008
  • Neurosciences research rated at the highest level – well above world standard – in the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia exercise: one of only three institutions nationally to receive this rating.

Highlights of UQ Neurosciences

The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI): working to understand all aspects of brain function in health and disease

QBI is a world-leading neuroscience research institute focused on understanding brain development, structure and function, and how dysfunction in normal processes can result in neurological disorder. Since its establishment in 2003, internationally renowned scientists have been recruited to the Institute to study the brain using a range of model organisms (from worms to humans) and experimental approaches.

  • An outstanding example is Professor Jason Mattingley, who is an ARC Laureate Fellow jointly appointed between QBI and the School of Psychology. Professor Mattingley and his team investigate how the human brain controls attention and learning. Combining imaging and stimulation techniques with behavioural probes, his group has helped elucidate how brain networks regulate simple and complex behaviour in health and disease. Their discoveries have provided clinicians with new tools to better diagnose and treat cognitive dysfunction in people with brain diseases, including stroke and dementia. 
  • The Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research (CADR), supported by the Queensland State Government and headed by Professor Jürgen Götz (QBI), was officially opened in 2013. The Centre has major long-term goals to develop non-pharmaceutical strategies to prevent or delay the onset of ageing dementia; to develop more sensitive and accurate diagnostic tools; and to develop novel pharmaceutical therapies to prevent or delay the onset of ageing dementia.

The Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC): providing insights into how we attend to, learn, remember and recall information across the lifespan

The SLRC is a collaborative venture between neuroscientists, psychologists and education researchers. Using findings from experimental neuroscience and psychology, its mission is to understand how the brain learns and to use this information to inform and shape education practice and assessment in Australia. Supported by the ARC, the Centre is a collaboration between experts from three lead institutions – UQ, The University of Melbourne, and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) – and colleagues from Flinders University, Deakin University, the University of New England, Charles Darwin University, and Macquarie University. The SLRC is also supported by nine partner organisations: the Queensland Department of Education and Training; the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development; the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development; Questacon; North Carolina State University; the Institute of Education (London); Carnegie Mellon University; University College London; and the Benevolent Society.

Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI): bringing together key research technologies for studying the structure and function of living organisms in health and disease

The CAI provides state-of-the-art imaging facilities and is the only Centre of its kind in Australia. Developing new imaging methods is critically important for improving our understanding of the brain. Through the technologies currently available, and those that are being developed at CAI, researchers at UQ are able to visualise and quantify brain function, for example to assess the impact of learning or the structural changes that occur as a result of neurological disorder. 

CAI provides the skills of talented research staff as well as ultra-modern facilities and infrastructure to support successful collaboration between neuroscientists and the medical community.