$1.5 million gift for mental health

$1.5 million gift for mental health

Illuminate newsletter header, June 2016
June 2016
A new Institute donor has contributed $1.5 million to support investigations into understanding how infection by the common human parasite, Toxoplasma, manipulates the brain and mind.

Dr Chris Tonkin
Dr Chris Tonkin is investigating how Toxoplasma
affects the brain

The funding from the David Winston Turner Endowment will allow Dr Chris Tonkin and his collaborators to investigate how Toxoplasma changes neural cells and tissue and how this could contribute to psychiatric diseases.

Under the terms of the will, the trustees of the David Winston Turner Endowment sought to fund innovative research in the area of mental health. The gift will support a multidisciplinary research team with extensive experience in metabolite (e.g. neurotransmitter) profiling, brain immunology, the production of different types of neural cells and the use of behavioural models of psychosis and schizophrenia.

Project collaborators

Institute collaborators on this research project include Dr Seth Masters, Dr Andrew Webb, Dr Laura Dagley, Dr Alex Uboldi and Mr Michael Coffey.

External collaborators include Professor Martin Pera from the Melbourne Brain Centre, Professor Tony Hannan from the Florey Institute, Professor Malcolm McConville from Metabolomics Australia at the University of Melbourne and Professor Paul McMenamin from Monash University.

It is hoped this research will inform the design of new anti-parasitic or anti-inflammatory therapies to relieve psychiatric symptoms or treat individuals who are at risk of developing mental illnesses.

Super Content: 

It’s thought that an infection in humans caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii could cause a change in our behaviour—even a change in our personality that could 'make us' like cats.

Research team in a lab

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