Associate Professor Michael Valenzuela recently established and leads the Regenerative Neuroscience Group (RNG) at the Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney. He is a problem solver by heart.
Michael’s background is in psychology, clinical medicine and neuroscience research, and previously was a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Psychiatry, UNSW. In 2006, AProf Valenzuela received the Australian Museum’s Eureka Prize for Medical Research, and in 2010 a NHMRC Excellence Award for the top-ranked clinical Career Development Award.
The general theme of AProf Valenzuela’s group is furthering our understanding of the competing forces of neuroplasticity and degeneration in the ageing brain and harnessing this knowledge to better prevent and treat dementia.
RNG’s research projects ignore traditional boundaries. These include working with adult stem cells, animal models, brain tissue, neuroimaging, human clinical trials and large multinational population-based cohorts. Michael has a particular interest in new brain imaging technologies such as Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy to help ‘see’ stem cells in the live brain, as well as a fascination with the canine brain and the syndrome of ‘canine dementia’ as dogs get older.
Michael’s research philosophy places a premium on creativity and synthesis of ideas and technology across disciplines. This is vital when attempting to bridge the translational gap between laboratory findings, animal studies and our ultimate goal, the advancement of human health.
Michael also believes that dementia is a critical challenge for our ageing society and dedicates a lot of time to communicating healthy brain ideas to the public. In 2011, he released a popular-science book in this area, ‘Maintain Your Brain‘ (ABC Books), and was part of the Alzheimer’s Australia team that developed BrainyApp, the world’s first iPhone app designed to help users maximise their long term brain health.