Investigating whether mild traumatic brain injuries cause neurodegenerative disease

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Medicine and Radiology
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Associate Professor Sandy Shultz 99030268 Personal web page

Project Details

Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), often referred to as concussion, is a serious medical issue worldwide. Repeated mTBIs (RmTBIs) have been linked to the development of neurodegenerative conditions such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and epilepsy. Some evidence also suggests that people with the Apolipoprotein E4 allele (APOE4) or polymorphisms of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that are associated with decreased BDNF are genetically susceptible to the long-term consequences of RmTBIs. However, whether RmTBIs cause neurodegenerative disease, and the factors involved, remain highly controversial topics. This is in large part due to the challenges/limitations involved in studying these topics in humans. Animal models allow for the control of these issues, and we have developed a rat model of mTBI that mirrors what occurs in human mTBI. Using this model, this project will examine whether RmTBIs cause long-term neurological changes that resemble CTE, dementia, ALS, or epilepsy. We will also incorporate APOE4 knockin and BDNF knockdown rats to examine how these factors influence long-term RmTBI outcomes. To ultimately prevent the effects of RmTBIs we must understand the underlying pathophysiology and identify biomarkers that are sensitive to these changes so that they can be detected in the clinical setting. The project will therefore characterize clinically relevant and advanced MRI, blood, and skin biomarkers in the same rats to examine relationships between the biomarkers and long-term outcomes. This innovative and clinically relevant project will significantly advance the understanding of the effects, pathophysiology, and biomarkers of RmTBIs.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Research Opportunities

PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, 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.


Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

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