Brain Research in Tassie

Friday, 3 July 2020 - 2:34pm

In the Autumn edition of our Quest newsletter , the regular insert focused on our exciting Major Project Grant for 2020-22, which will see Dr Jessica Collins and her team investigate the use of a blood test to detect early changes in the brain which may predict those at risk of developing dementia.

Dr Jessica Collins (who completed her college level studies on Tasmania’s north west coast) studied a Bachelor of Medical Research with Honours, followed by a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Tasmania. Currently, Jessica is a neuroscientist at the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, based in Hobart.

Jessica said she has always had an interest in human anatomy and the brain and, after moving from Queensland to Tasmania with her family in teenage years, she hasn’t looked back.

“My PhD work investigated the relationship between traumatic brain injury and the most common cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, demonstrating that the underlying disease processes in these two conditions are similar. This research sparked a strong interest in developing tests that allow us to monitor the brain changes that occur following traumatic brain injury and also in neurodegenerative conditions, such as dementia, so that we may improve outcomes,” she said.

Jessica believes that preventative health strategies and early intervention are crucial for maximising the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians.

“It is understood that a proportion of dementia cases may be preventable through lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising. Therefore, the ability to monitor people’s brain-health in a way that’s similar to how we monitor things like cholesterol for heart-health, will allow doctors to help people make healthier choices earlier in life, potentially reducing their risk of dementia when they get older.”

An avid runner and outdoor enthusiast, Jessica finds Tasmania to be her perfect home where she can balance personal and professional passions. In fact Jessica participates in trail ultramarathons in her spare time – of course?! When she is not spending hours in the lab, you can find her running around on many of our states’ beautiful trails – no doubt clearing her head before taking on the next challenge in her fascinating research investigations.

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