Inaugural Fellowship advances research into targeted treatments

An inaugural Professorial research fellowship courtesy of philanthropists and long-time supporters of the Florey Institute, Carl Dowd, AM and Wendy Dowd, AM will advance research into the targeted treatment of anxiety and depression, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease.

Representing an incredible level of commitment to the health and wellbeing of Australians living with a brain or mind condition, the Carl and Wendy Dowd Professorial Fellowship will enable recipient, Professor Ross Bathgate, to continue his investigation of therapeutic targets for a range of neurological conditions.

Professor Ross Bathgate standing in a Florey laboratory standing in front of shelves with bottles of solution. He wears a white lab coat.
Professor Ross Bathgate, Head of the Neurotherapeutics Theme

“Though the burden of neurological disease in Australia and world-wide is considerable, there aren’t many new drugs coming through the pipeline. Developing drug treatments against brain and mind disorders is extremely challenging and far more expensive than non-neurological diseases. Through my work, my primary goal is to translate our research to get better medicines,” said Professor Ross Bathgate, Head of the Neurotherapeutics Theme.

“I hope to use these next three years to really push the boundaries of my research. My vision is to use this time and the security that this fellowship has given me to play a leading role in helping to advance neurotherapeutic development, both within my own team and within the Florey as a whole,” he continued.

Professor Bathgate’s research focuses on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) which represent the most important class of biomolecules for pharmaceutical development, being targeted by over 30 per cent of current drugs.

He is currently developing a drug that mimics a neuropeptide his team discovered 20 years ago when investigating the pregnancy hormone relaxin. By developing mimetic drugs based on this important neurotransmitter, they hope to use them for preclinical validation as a treatment for anxiety and depression. Further research has also led to drug targets for autism, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s disease.

“I’m very heartened to think that we’re going to be supporting Professor Bathgate for a few years to come through this professorial fellowship. We’ve seen how he plans to use this fellowship to not only grow and sustain his group and his research, but how his research will in turn come to sustain the Institute,” said Carl Dowd.

Carl and Wendy Dowd. They stand on a deck overlooking the bay. Their pet dog sits at their feet.
Carl Dowd AM and Wendy Dowd AM. Photo by Glenn Hunt.

Wendy Dowd AM, hopes that the fellowship provides the necessary financial resources to keep researchers like Professor Bathgate focused on their investigations, easing the pressure of grant applications while offering them support for ongoing research within the Florey Institute.

“The fellowship represents our vision for the Florey Institute, a vision of supporting both the researchers investigating neurological conditions and the people who experience them. Our congratulations to Professor Bathgate. We wish him an exciting and prosperous time ahead,” she said.