Chloe Yap is an aspiring clinical-scientist and her research has a neurological focus. Yap will undertake “big data” analysis on genetic studies of the human brain in relation to autism and will work on a proposed clinical trial under the guidance of Dr Michael Gandal at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“We rely on observation and interview to arrive at a diagnosis with autism and other psychiatric conditions,” Yap said. “The lack of biomarkers reflects our limited understanding of the biology. Perhaps looking at physical conditions in autism that are more obviously biological will be an inroad. Why are they so common? What do they say about the underlying biology of autism? The answers may help to improve diagnosis and tailor treatment.”

Yap will begin studying at UCLA in 2021 after completing the second year of her PhD at UQ’s Mater Research Institute and Institute for Molecular Bioscience. Under the guidance of Professor Aaron Gitler at Stanford University, Mr Briner will study the role of tau protein in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. “I hope to identify new mechanisms through which tau mediates, and ultimately dysregulates, fundamental pathways in neuronal physiology to identify novel therapeutic targets,” Mr Briner said. “I’m excited by a future where I’m among the first generation of clinician-scientists able to understand, prescribe and deliver this type of targeted therapy.”

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