Shining a light on research

02 May 2022

The Big Brain Project helping little brains

More than one in ten children are affected by brain conditions of childhood such as autism, mental health conditions, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy.

These sometimes-debilitating brain disorders have two things in common – genetic vulnerability and environmental factors. In search of the key to unlock a new era in prevention, diagnosis and even cure for these conditions, the Kids Neuroscience Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network is paving the way for thousands of sick kids.

The Big Brain project, led by Professor Russell Dale and Associate Professor Michelle Farrar, consists of a multidisciplinary team of the best and brightest clinicians and scientists in the field.

Through understanding disease pathways and mechanisms, The Big Brain project will enable faster and more precise diagnosis, improve prognosis, and provide targeted treatment for patients and their families.

They are looking at developing world-class clinical cohorts with integrated technologies, which will identify novel disease mechanisms, provide new targets to treat, and ultimately cure paediatric brain diseases.

“Neuroscience has made rapid gains in understanding the causes and developing treatment approaches for brain diseases in children over the last two decades. The Big Brain project actively empowers clinicians and researchers to use neuroscience to search for answers and bring these children and families to improve care. Organisation, enthusiasm, and collaboration have given us momentum and to tackle the big brain challenge,” explained A/Professor Michelle Farrar.

SCHF, with the support of the Ainsworth Foundation, helped fund a senior position to implement Phase One of the project. In this role, Kristine Concepcion was challenged to create a registry, facilitate multiple interviews, and in effect become a research enabler with colleagues in the Neurology Departments across Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network.

“I envisage these projects to go beyond SCHN onto the parents, communities, and advocacy groups, and establish meaningful connections with them. These studies will bring our projected outcomes to fruition, whilst aiming to make an impact on precision medicine and advanced therapeutics,” added Kristine Concepcion, MD.

Thanks to the support from people like you, The Big Brain team is on the cups of something revolutionary – with the potential impact to be elevated throughout Australia and echoing out around the globe.

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