$100,000 – from Car Parking!

GENERAL NEWS

$100,000 – From Car Parking!

At the windy Jackson’s Landing site (L-R) SRI’s Debbie Willcox and Lee Drury, Site Foreman Darren Power, CFMEU Delegate Ante Zadrilic, and Angus Wippell.

Who would have thought that a large cement slab at the Bovis Lend Lease Jackson’s Landing
construction site in Pyrmont could have been so valuable to SRI?

After two years of collecting fees for daily parking on the slab, over $100,000 was handed over in aid of research.

Big thanks go to CFMEU delegate Ante Zadrilic, site Foreman Darren Power, and to Bovis Lend Lease. And even bigger thanks go to the hundreds of workers on site who contributed to this imaginative project.

All at SRI can’t wait to see the brilliant fund-raising scheme ‘Big Gordon’ will devise for the new Bovis Lend Lease site at Campbelltown!

Annual Report 2004

Annual Report 2004

Annual Report 2004 View

Zeroing in on a Mental Health ‘Black Spot’

RESEARCH NEWS

Zeroing in on a Mental Health ‘Black Spot’

The brain area known as the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has been a focus of neuroscience mental health research for some time, and its dysfunction has been directly linked to disorders
such as obsessive-compulsive, bipolar and post traumatic stress, as well as to depression, autism and schizophrenia. All evidence identifies the ACC as an ‘accident black spot’ in the brain’s busy network of pathways.

In earlier studies, SRI’s Dr Katerina Zavitsanou at the University of Wollongong has detected increased numbers of cannabinoid and glutamate receptors, and decreased numbers of serotonin receptors in the ACC of post mortem brains from schizophrenia patients.
Her recent research* has focussed on muscarinic receptors in the ACC because these have been shown to play a role in depression and bipolar disorders. Are there abnormalities in these receptors in the ACC of schizophrenia affected brains as well?

The anterior cingulate cortex (above) is a brain region strongly associated with the ‘executive function’ or decision-making
role so commonly found to be affected in schizophrenia. No differences were found in muscarinic receptor density in the anterior cingulate cortex of brain tissue from bipolar samples, major depression samples, and normal controls. Tissue from schizophrenia samples, however, (below right) contained 19-24% less muscarinic receptors than controls (below left).

To answer this question, Dr Zavitsanou obtained samples of the ACC from 60 postmortem brains: 15 schizophrenia, 15 bipolor, 15 depression, and 15 controls. A chemical process was used to label the muscarinic receptors in all samples, and the density of these receptors measured and compared across all samples.

No differences were found in the muscarinic receptor densities of bipolar and depression samples and controls, but the schizophrenia samples contained 19-24% less muscarinic receptors than controls.

As the ACC plays a fundamental role in cognition and attention, which are both disordered in schizophrenia, it is possible that the observed deficit in numbers of muscarinic receptors
may combine with the earlier abnormalities found in other receptor levels as a cause of such disorders.

Further studies investigating the correlation between the altered receptor levels in the ACC brain region in schizophrenia are underway.

*Receptors in the anterior cingulate cortex in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression disorder.
Published in Neuropsychopharmacology, vol 29, pg 619-625, 2004.

NSW Health Pledges $500,000 for Australia’s First University Chair of Schizophrenia Research’

GENERAL NEWS

Morris Iemma Pledges $500,000 for Australia’s First University Chair of Schizophrenia Research
With $500,000 for a University Chair and $160,000 raised for research, SRI’s ‘Spark of Genius’ event was well named.

Minister for Health Morris Iemma announces the good news for Australian schizophrenia research.

More than 300 guests assembled at NSW Parliament House on 19 March to enjoy Andrew Denton’s repartee, Wendy Harmer’s wit, Ann Fulwood’s presentation skills, and the company of many geniuses from times past.

In keeping with the event theme, 22 actors in full costume and makeup played the roles of famous people who suffered from mental illness. Guests were welcomed by Jackson Pollock, Beethoven and Vivien Leigh, and conversed with Virginia Woolf, Tennesse Williams, Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln and many others.

The bidding was enthusiastic for donated auction items ranging from a holiday in Greece to a training session in the RAAF’s F111 fighter flight simulator. Other pledged donations went to support the DNA Bank for Schizophrenia Research, a SRI initiative dedicated to collecting DNA samples from patients and their relatives for use in investigating the genetic sources of the illness.

New Recognition for Schizophrenia

In his keynote speech, NSW Minister for Health Morris Iemma announced a grant of $500,000 towards founding a University Chair of Schizophrenia Research in NSW. SRI will now attempt to raise the additional $500,000 necessary to establish the position.

The first in Australia, such a Chair will establish a new source of research under the aegis of a NSW University, and will create a new national benchmark of priority for schizophrenia
as a major disease.

Don McDonald’s Farewell

Andrew Denton looks on as Don McDonald receives a special plaque of appreciation from SRI Founding Chairman Prof.
Stan Catts.

The black tie event also provided an ideal opportunity to honour Don McDonald on the occasion of his retirement. Don was interviewed on stage by Andrew Denton, and presented with a commemorative plaque in recognition of his inimitable role as SRI’s original and greatest advocate and fundraiser. As one of the founding SRI Board members in 1996, and later as Director of the SRI/NSW Health Partnership Project, Don has been personally responsible for raising over $2 million in sponsorships and donations, as well as for lobbying government support, and significantly improving public awareness of schizophrenia.

Masterminded by SRI’s Lee Drury, with the assistance of Graziella Garrett, the ‘Spark of Genius’ event owes special thanks to our host the Hon Morris Iemma MP; to Andrew Denton;
to Anne Fulwood; to Telstra and 20 Telstra Friends; to St. George Bank, who supplied auction software and staff; to Doug Hawkins of TUV; to our auctioneer David Tapp, and to our cast of 20 actors. Many, many thanks to all who contributed significantly to create a truly ‘sparkling’ event in aid of SRI’s schizophrenia research.

Mine Workers Support SRI

GENERAL NEWS

Mine Workers Support SRI

The Mine Workers Trust has once again provided substantial support for SRI donating over
$50,000 to establish a new SRI research laboratory at the Psychological Assistance Service (PAS) in Newcastle. This funding was made available through coal royalties from the Miners Unions shareholding in United Colliery – Hunter Valley.

Secured by SRI/NSW Health Partnership Project Director, Don McDonald, the donation comes on top of an earlier donation of $50,000 from the Mine Workers Trust to assist in the purchase of the Beta-Imager for SRI’s Wollongong scientists.

PAS is a designated Hunter Area Mental Health Service for the early detection of and intervention into psychoses. The new research laboratory at PAS will enable SRI scientists to conduct research into early signs and symptoms of schizophrenia at a community based mental health service by translating basic research into new applications; namely by improving the detection of early signs and symptoms of schizophrenia upon which specific interventions can be initiated at a much earlier stage of the illness, thereby providing a major step towards the
prevention of the transition into schizophrenia in young high-risk individuals.

The generous donation from the Mine Workers Trust played a major role in allowing SRI-affiliated
scientists Prof. Ulrich Schall and Prof. Pat Michie to obtain a further $40,000 grant from the University of Newcastle to develop the research facility.

Many thanks to the Mine Workers Trust and University of Newcastle for providing support
for the establishment of this important new schizophrenia research facility.