Neurology and Stroke Research

Neuroscience research

The spectrum of research conducted by the Neurology Research Group is broad; ranging from clinical research to laboratory science.  The Department of Neurology at Monash Health provides service to a large catchment area, approximately a third of the population of Melbourne.  A/Prof Henry Ma is the Director of the Neurology Department.

Director of Neurology

Henry Ma
Henry Ma

Associate Professor Henry Ma is Director of Neurology and Stroke at Monash Health (2015-) and Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at Monash University (2015-).  He was previously Director of Physician Training at Monash Health.  A/Prof Ma is a senior member of the National Examiner Panel and Adult Medicine Division Basic Training Committee for the Royal Australasian College of Physician (RACP). He undertook his doctoral thesis on imaging of ischaemic penumbra with Profs Donnan and Davis.  A/Prof Ma's work on persistence of penumbra beyond the traditional 3-hour time-frame has generated the idea for the EXtending the time for Thrombolysis in Emergency Neurological Deficits (EXTEND)-IV trial. He presented the final result for the EXTEND-IV trial at the World Congress of Stroke in October 2018. He is a chief investigator on a NHMRC sponsored Phase 1 amnion stem cell trial of stroke (I-ACT), starting in February 2019..  A/Prof Ma is a clinician and educator and has been instrumental in setting up the Australasian Stroke Academy (ASA) to educate and train the new generation of stroke physicians. He currently serves as Councillor on ASA.

A/Prof Ma has been instrumental in setting up collaborative multicentre clinical trials and observational studies as evidenced by his high productivity, role as co-chair of the Australian Stroke Trial Network (ASTN).  He is a keen advocate in the use of amnion stem cell in neurological diseases such as stroke and multiple sclerosis. His major research skill is in the clinical trials and penumbral imaging.  He is Principal Coordinator of the multicentre trial of the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator, EXTEND-IV.  The trial is being conducted in Australia and Asia.  A/Prof Ma's role in ASTN puts him in an ideal position to promote this trial to other sites in Phases II and III. He plays a key role in evaluation of biomarkers and immune dysfunction using data from START-EXTEND trial.

In addition to Stroke research activities, A/Prof Ma has been setting up Department of Neurology as an academic unit with strength in Epilepsy, Movement Disorders, Neuroimmunology/ Multiple Sclerosis, Neuro-degenerative medicine, Behavioural Neurology, Neuro-ophthalmology, Neuro-otology and Neuro-oncology.

Our research groups

The Stroke and Ageing Research Group provides a number of research opportunities for students in the fields of cerebrovascular disease (acute stroke, imaging, small vessel disease, stroke prevention, public health) and brain ageing (vascular contributions to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease).  It consists of the following divisions headed by experts in the relevant fields who have substantial experience in mentoring students in research projects.

Clinical Trials, Imaging and Informatics - Prof Thanh Phan and A/Prof Henry Ma are acute stroke specialists and neurologists with clinical and research expertise in acute stroke and TIA, endovascular therapy, advanced brain imaging, and the use of novel bioinformatics and big data approaches in stroke care.

Epidemiology and Prevention - Prof Amanda Thrift leads large international studies and secondary prevention trials for in stroke. Targeting blood pressure and diabetes management in developing countries is a major focus.

Translational Public Health - A/Prof Dominique Cadilhac leads a number of large projects aimed at improving quality of stroke care in hospitals, telemedicine provision in regional hospitals, as well as the use of behavioural techniques to improve stroke outcome in patients.

Epilepsy Research group - A/Prof Udaya Seneviratne is a neurologist with clinical and research expertise in epilepsy and EEG. He leads the Epilepsy and EEG Service in the Monash Health hospital network. He is the principal investigator of clinical trials in epilepsy at Monash Health.  Current epilepsy research is focussed on electrophysiological abnormalities in genetic generalised epilepsies as well as semiology of epileptic and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures. His other research interests include critical care EEG, video-EEG monitoring and seizure education.

The Movement Disorders group - A/Prof Peter Kempster is the head of the group.  Members include Dr Sanjay Raghav, Yennie Lie, Ganga Ganeswaran and Yenie Lie.  The group at Monash Health provides a consultative service through Monash Neurology for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.  Specific areas of expertise include dystonia, tremor, deep brain stimulation surgery for movement disorders, advanced pharmacological delivery therapies for Parkinson’s disease and Friedreich's Ataxia.  A research fellowship in movement disorders is available. Enquiry for collaboration or fellowship should be addressed to A/Prof Peter Kempster.

Current and recent research projects:

  • Neuropsychology of multisensory perception in Parkinson’s disease (in collaboration with the Department of Psychology at Monash University
  • A kinematic study of Parkinson’s disease and the levodopa response
  • A kinematic, electrophysiological and neuropsychological study of different categories of dystonia
  • A quantitative CT study of vocal fold and laryngeal movement in Parkinson’s disease
  • Using electronic devices to analyse handwriting and speech in Parkinson’s disease

The Multiple Sclerosis group – A/Prof Ernie Butler, Dr Deepa Rajendran, Dr Victor Chong, Dr Anthony Fok and Dr Martin Short provide comprehensive clinical services for patients with multiple sclerosis.  They conduct several clinical trials in multiple sclerosis.

Neurodegenerative DiseaseDr Susan Mathers (including Dr Yennie Lie), is the head of the group.  She is a member of the Motor Neurone Disease Research Institute of Australia, the MND Research Tissue Bank, and a founding member of the Australian MND Register.  Dr Mathers's main interests are in the management of chronic progressive neurological diseases (such as MND, Huntington disease), models of care and clinical trials. She collaborates with researchers in Monash Biomedical Imaging to characterise the longitudinal change in brain of patients with Motor Neurone Disease.

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The image above is the cover of a report on the Statewide progressive neurological diseases report to the Department of Health and Human Services, written by Dr Mathers
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