UQ medical student awarded a prestigious international research fellowship

24 September 2021

A University of Queensland medical student has been awarded a prestigious fellowship to research the debilitating nervous system disorder, Parkinson's Disease.

Zhen-Yi Andy Ou, a research assistant with the UQ Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR), will use his US Parkinson’s Disease Foundation Fellowship to investigate how best limit chronic brain inflammation and neurotoxicity in Parkinson’s patients.

There are currently limited treatments for Parkinson’s and no effective way to slow or stop the disease, which results in progressive disability for most patients.

Mr Ou said chronic ongoing inflammation is believed to contribute to a loss of dopamine neurons that control brain function, leading to the progression of the disease.

“Under the guidance of Dr Richard Gordon, UQCCR researchers recently discovered new mechanisms that regulate the protein NLRP3 inflammasome, a key driver of inflammation and Parkinson’s progression”, Mr Ou said.

“Reducing inflammation and neuronal death is considered one of the most promising therapeutic approaches to slow or halt of Parkinson’s”.

Mr Ou’s research will use a new approach which targets multiple mechanisms and pathways involved in regulating inflammatory responses in the brain.

“Most therapeutic strategies used to target inflammation in Parkinson’s aim to block a single inflammatory pathway but this approach has had limited success in clinical trials to date”, he said.

Mr Ou is currently studying his MD at University of Queensland and his fellowship will be under the mentorship of Dr Richard Gordon.