The Melbourne Brain Centre at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) has just celebrated its 10th birthday.

Melbourne Brain Centre
Melbourne Brain Centre at the RMH

The Melbourne Brain Centre at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) has just celebrated its 10th birthday.

Opened in 2011, the Melbourne Brain Centre at RMH is a collaborating research centre of the University of Melbourne. Much of the research from the centre is in fields such as stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, dementia and cognitive neurology, brain tumours and neuropsychiatry.

Or, as Professor Stephen Davis, Director of the Melbourne Brain Centre at the RMH, succinctly puts it, research that looks at when things go wrong in the human brain.

“If I could think of a theme overall for the research at the Brain Centre it really is saving brain … we are aimed at saving and optimising brain function,” Prof Davis said.

Some of the highlights of the past decade have included Professor Bruce Campbell’s research into thrombectomy and his leadership with Professor Peter Mitchell of clinical trials, which have changed practice; the development of the Melbourne Mobile Stroke Unit, the first stroke ambulance in Australia led by Professors Davis and Geoffrey Donnan; Professor Trevor Kilpatrick and Associate Professor Tomas Kalincik’s research into the fundamental causes of MS and the best drug treatments; and the Australian Pregnancy Register led by Professor Frank Vajda, which is aiding research into the effects of antiepileptic medications on the developing baby during pregnancy.

Professor Kate Drummond heads an outstanding comprehensive brain tumour research program, while Professor Amy Brodtmann and Associate Professor Nawaf Yassi are both key leaders in dementia research, collaborating with the Florey Institute and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, respectively.

“(The MBC at RMH centre) has been running for 10 years, and I would have to say it has been enormously successful and that reflects the contributions of many very talented colleagues,” said Prof Davis.

“It is superbly facilitated by Dr Damien Easton, Director of Strategy and Operations. It is a key hub for clinical and translational research in the neurosciences and has been a magnet for many international research fellows. There are many national and international collaborations.”

Among the exciting research and developments underway is Prof Davis and Prof Donnan’s five-year Golden Hour for Stroke program, based at the Melbourne Brain Centre at RMH, developing lightweight brain imaging devices for small road ambulances and aircraft to treat people with stroke in rural and outback Australia. This was funded by a Medical Research Future Fund Frontiers (MRFFF) grant, supporting partnerships with two cutting edge Australian companies.

Meanwhile, A/Prof Tomas Kalincik and Prof Trevor Kilpatrick will be leading new RMH MS centre which Prof Davis said would bring together patient care and clinical research and hoped would be “quite transformative for the lives of many young people”.

“They’re two of the very exciting areas of research that will be ground breaking over the next few years,” Prof Davis said.

Mobile Stroke Unit with Ambulance Victoria paramedic and the RMH Stroke team
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