Cerebrovascular Disease Research

Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke, dementias) are a major health concern in Australia and throughout the world.

Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke, dementias) are a major health concern in Australia and throughout the world. Cardiovascular diseases disrupt the blood flow to the brain, which reduces the supply of oxygen and other essential nutrients required for neurons to function. This disruption can contribute to the development of cognitive impairment.

Our research focuses on the effects of cardiovascular diseases (e.g. hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome) on the brain and its circulation. We use animal models of disease as well as state-of-the-art imaging, and molecular and behavioural testing techniques to determine the impact of disease on the brain and to identify potential targets for therapy.

The overall goal of our research is to develop new therapies to help reduce the burden of cerebrovascular disease.

Current Research Projects

Due to our ageing population, the number of patients diagnosed with dementia is expected to triple in the next 30 years. This impairment of cognitive function may arise as a result of cardiovascular pathology or cerebrovascular injury. Hypertension has profound effects on the brain (alterations to autoregulation, impairment of neurovascular coupling, neuroinflammation, blood-brain barrier dysfunction) and is the major modifiable risk factor for strokes caused by a lack of blood flow. This research aims to assess the effects of hypertension and/or stroke on the brain and specifically on cognitive impairment.

Cardiovascular diseases (hypertension, metabolic syndrome) are known contributors to brain injury and may result in impairment of cognition. The effects of these diseases include disruption of blood flow to the brain, brain inflammation and damage to brain neurons. This can lead to a loss of cognitive function, which may eventually lead to dementia. This project aims to determine whether human amnion epithelial cells (hAECs) can treat brain injury and cognitive impairment caused by hypertension, stroke and metabolic syndrome.

Small vessel disease (SVD) is associated with a disruption in the blood flow to the brain which can lead to inflammation and a decline in cognitive function. Small vessel disease is thought to account for more than 25 per cent of all dementia cases. While there are several underlying causes of SVD, including genetic mutations, cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension are regarded as a major cause of sporadic SVD. Very little research has been conducted on this area to date and our team is seeking to better understand the links between these conditions.

Team members

  • Dr Michael De Silva (Division Head)
  • Dr Quynh Nhu Dinh
  • Ms Cecilia Lo (Research Assistant)
  • Mr David Wong Zhang (PhD Student)
  • Mr Mehdi Zia (Masters Student)
  • Ms Tarunpreet Rajput (Honours Student)