Ageing, Iron and Neurodegeneration

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Gawain McColl
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Ashley Bush

Summary The McColl group is explores brain ageing and the impact it has on neurodegenerative diseases. We use the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, to model the biology of ageing and late-life neurobiology. By reducing complexity and time scale, the study of simple organisms can provided a wealth of information about the biochemical systems and fundamental biological processes. Despite the relative simplicity of these animals the conservation of genetic and disease pathways between these nematodes and higher eukaryotes make it an effective in vivo model for study ageing and disease mechanisms.

Project Details

Age is the single biggest risk factor for major neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. How ageing drives disease susceptibility is a fundamental but poorly understood question.  To solve the mystery of brain ageing we propose to first understand it in a simpler animal. Our laboratory takes a fresh approach, using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, with its well-developed genetics, to explore the biological roles of iron. Metal ions, including those of iron, are essential for life with approximately half of all proteins using a metal ion co-factor. However, excess metal ions can be highly toxic. Organs such as the brain accumulates iron through life, which may contribute to disease risk.  This project will explore why the handling of redox-active iron fatigues with age, and creates a toxic, pro-ageing biochemistry and drives cell death. In addition, this project will 1. Characterise the cellular consequences of age-dependent iron changes; and 2) Investigate cell type specific restoration of iron homeostasis to identify where iron toxicity occurs and if and how it spreads.

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

MDHS Research library
Explore by researcher, school, project or topic.