Here is an open letter to the Australian HSP community from the principal researcher at the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research where the research on HSP is being carried out.
Dear HSP Community,
I continue to be in awe of how much the Foundation raises as a relatively small charity to fund the HSP research we are doing here at the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research (NCASCR) … and full of admiration for members of the HSP community who continue to dig deep to support the quest for a cure. Your funds have allowed us to add another researcher to this team (initially Dr. Gregor Abrahamsen and now Dr. Yongjun Fan) as we bring team skills and knowledge to the HSP research.
We feel privileged to have been able to host 20 or so community members here in Brisbane for a workshop last November, and to give them first-hand experience of who we are and what we are doing. Rest assured that we are acutely aware of the trust and confidence you continue to place in us through your outstanding funding efforts.
Let me paint a picture of how your research dollars are spent and effectively amplified through our research team. Our Centre is a $22 million federally funded facility set up on the campus of Griffith University within the Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies. Our Institute is specialised for drug discovery with a unique “drug library” of more than 200,000 new chemicals derived from Queensland’s plants and a high-tech robotic librarian to find the ones you want!
Our Centre has a stem cell bank with cells from 200 people with different brain diseases such as Motor Neurone Disease, Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and, of course, HSP. We have a multidisciplinary team of researchers applying their specialist techniques to each disease, as we continually learn more about how diseased human cells malfunction. The findings are not limited just to one particular disease, but often have broader applicability in growing our knowledge of other diseases.
Thirty researchers and students work in the Centre to make it all happen, with an annual budget of over $2 million for salaries and experimental costs. We are privileged to work with technologies and equipment valued at more than $10 million, including a new half million dollar instrument for future drug screening in the HSP research project. As well as the one dedicated HSP researcher who is funded through your generosity, there are eight other researchers who have made a significant contribution to the HSP research so far. The HSP research sits within a long-term and larger program here and it is very much a team effort.
Professor Alan Mackay-Sim
National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research