Florey researchers receive prestigious fellowships

The nervous wait is finally over for two of the Florey’s rising stars, Dr Philip Ryan and Dr Robyn Brown, who have both received Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards from the Australian Research Council. The funding will allow them to extend their research into junk food addiction and fluid balance in our bodies.

Congratulations to this pair of talented young researchers, who have received the awards for research contributing to Australia’s national interest.

Dr Robyn Brown investigates how fatty, sugary foods interact with the brain to make us crave them more.

Highly palatable foods cause changes in brain reward circuitry in a manner similar to drugs of abuse.

Identifying how these “junk” foods interact with the brain’s reward areas will help uncover the mechanisms underlying the pleasurable aspect of appetite.

Her work not only informs our understanding of how exposure to these foods can contribute to overeating and obesity, a huge and growing problem in Australia, but will also provide evidence when developing policy options relevant to regulating junk food advertising and marketing.

Dr Phil Ryan and Dr Robyn Brown

Dr Phil Ryan is mapping the brain circuits controlling fluid and salt intake using innovative genetically encoded techniques.

These enable him to precisely manipulate select neuronal populations to construct detailed maps of the brain circuits for fluid and salt intake.

By tracing the network in intricate detail, characterising neuronal populations, and precisely defining their functions, he will aid our understanding the brain regions controlling fluid and salt intake which are essential for maintaining the correct fluid balance in our bodies.

The work also provides a framework for investigating the neural circuits underlying other complex behaviours.