Dr Carli Roulston is currently Team leader of Neurotrauma Research in the Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, St Vincent’s campus. She has extensive experience in both commercial and independently funded projects enabling her team to adopt a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to study key mechanisms involved in brain injury and remodelling. In 2002 Roulston commenced her career in stroke research as the lead scientist working on commercially funded projects aimed at developing cytoprotective compounds now in clinical trial (NeuProtect). Since this time Roulston has expanded her research focues beyond neuroprotection to include investigating new ways to promote and facilitate brain repair. Over the past 14 years she has demonstrated a capacity for leading high quality research with 75% of publications as first or senior author. Her international profile is recognised by invitations to serve on 3 editorial boards and as an international expert for the National Medical Research Panel, Singapore; and Medical Research Council, UK. Roulston's research is most notably recognised for characterising animal models of stroke for brain injury and remodelling, which includes invited review articles and book chapters in this field.
With previous support from the NHMRC #628767 Roulston's team has been investigating the role of angiogenesis and reactive gliosis in brain remodelling, which includes developing new was to promote brain repair and funcitonal recovery. Current projects include drug development to reduce brain scarring, stem cell transplant to promote neurogenesis and the use of epidural electrical stimulation to accelerate functional recovery. Working closely with leading clinicians at St Vincent's hospital who specialise in brain disorders, Roulston's research is focused on pre-clinical testing in animal models prior to clinical trial.
• Cass Foundation Medical Science Grant (2016) Targeting Astrocytes to Rescue the Brain after Stroke. $58,000; Roulston, Beart, Cheng.
• St Vincent’s Hospital Research Endowment Fund (2015) Rebooting the brain after stroke with electrical stimulation to promote plasticity and functional recovery. $20,000; Roulston, Williams.
• Australian Brain Foundation (2014) Targeting astrogliosis and brain stimulation after stroke to promote plasticity and functional recovery. $38,500; Roulston, Beart, Williams, Dusting.
• St Vincent’s Hospital Research Endowment Fund (2014) Targeting astrogliosis and brain stimulation after stroke to promote plasticity and functional recovery. $20,000; Roulston, Beart, Williams.
• NHMRC #628767 (2010 $196,325; 2011 $201,325; 2012 $196,325) Dusting, Roulston Crook, Kobayash:i NADPH oxidase in brain repair after stroke
• Bethlehem Griffiths Research Foundation (2009; $50,000) Roulston, Dusting: Oxidative stress and angiogenesis in recovery from ischaemic stroke.
• NHF Research Grant-in-aid G07M3237 (2008-2010; $66,550 p.a.) Dusting, Roulston: Oxidative stress, cell signaling and angiogenesis in recovery from ischaemic stroke.
• NHF Research Grant-in-aid G 05M 2169 (2006-2007; $63,000 p.a) Dusting, Roulston, Callaway: Targeting the source of oxidative damage in ischaemic stroke.
• Cass Foundation Science and Medicine grant (2006; $60,000) Roulston, Dusting: Targeting Oxidative Stress in Brain Injury Following Ischaemic Stroke.
• Perpetual Trustees Research Grant (2006; $30,000) Dusing, Roulston: Targeting Oxidative Stress in Brain Injury Following Ischaemic Stroke.
• The Eirene Lucas Foundation Small Equipment Grant (2004; $4,500) Roulston, Dusting, Jarrott: Accelerating Rota Rod.
Manipulating the post-stroke environment to support brain repair
Each year approximately 48,000 Australians suffer a stroke, with one third experiencing major long-term disability and an annual cost of over $1.7 billion. Following stroke, brain remodelling contributes to functional recovery in many patients. However, there is currently little evidence to suggest that significant improvement in clinical outcome after stroke is caused by endogenous neurogenesis, although stem cell migration towards damaged regions of the brain does occur.
Cellular therapies offer a new opportunity for stroke treatment by administering optimised cell grafts that can support endogenous “at risk” neurons and integrate to reconstruct functional neural circuitry. However a supportive transplant environment is likely necessary to ensure neuroprotection and function.
In collaboration with Associate Professor Chris Williams at the Bionics Institute and Professor Phillip Beart at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health we are investigating ways in which to reduce scar formation after stroke as well as growth supporting strategies involivng electric stimulation, to promote endogenous neurogenesis and pre-differentiated human stem cell grafts to accelerate recovery from stroke.
Our research goals broadly include:
1. Reduce scar formation and maintain important astroglial support.
2. Promote new blood vessels to support brain repair.
3. Promote stem cell migration into the damaged brain to support nerve regeneration and outgrowth.
4. Stimulate new and surviving nerve cells into organization of functional pathways
5. Accelerate functional recovery.