Dementia Research Unit

About us

Our research program focuses on understanding mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)/Motor Neuron Disease (MND).

Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent of all neurodegenerative disorders, characterized by a progressive loss of cognition. Frontotemporal dementia is the second most prevalent form of dementia. Motor neuron disease (also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease) is characterized by rapid degeneration of motor neurons and shares molecular and clinical features with Frontotemporal dementia.

More than 200,000 Australians are currently diagnosed with a neurodegenerative condition, causing a huge socio-economic impact. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions and current therapies achieve only very modest symptomatic relief. The team of the Dementia Research Unit is determined to understand how brain function progressively declines and translate our findings into novel therapies.

Several units contribute to furthering our broad research program into neurodegenerative diseases. These include:

the Dementia Research Unit (DRU) – Understanding disease mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease [led by Prof Lars Ittner and Dr Arne Ittner],

the Neuro-Drug Development Unit (NDDU) – Developing the next generation of drugs to overcome neurodegenerative diseases [led by Prof Lars Ittner],

the Motor Neuron Disease Unit (MNDU) – Providing new insight into the processes leading to neurodegeneration in MND [led by Dr Yazi Ke], and

the Transgenic Animal Unit (TAU) – Generation of genetically modified mice for neurodegenerative disease and beyond [led by Dr Fabien Delerue and Prof Lars Ittner]

Key Publications

  1. van Hummel A, Bi M, Ippati S, van der Hoven J, Volkerling A, Lee WS, Tan DC, Bongers A, Ittner A, Ke YD, Ittner LM (2016) No Overt Deficits in Aged Tau-Deficient C57Bl/6.Mapttm1(EGFP)Kit GFP Knockin Mice. PLoS One 11(10):e0163236.
  2. Ke YD, van Hummel A, Stevens CH, Gladbach A, Ippati S, Bi M, Krüger S, Bongers A, Halliday GM, Haass NK, Kiernan MC, Delerue F, Ittner LM (2015) Short-term suppression of A315T mutant human TDP-43 expression improves functional deficits in a novel inducible transgenic mouse model of FTLD-TDP and ALS. Acta Neuropathologica 130(5):661-78.
  3. Ittner LM, Halliday GH, Kril JJ, Götz J, Hodges JR, Kiernan MC (2015) FTD and ALS-translating mouse studies into clinical trials. Nat Rev Neurol 11(6):360-366.
  4. Ittner A, Gladbach A, Bertz J, Suh LS, Ittner LM (2014) p38 MAP kinase-mediated NMDA receptor-dependent suppression of hippocampal hypersynchronicity in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Acta Neuropathol Commun 2(1):149.
  5. Van Eersel J, KeYD, LiuX, Delerue F, KrilJJ, GotzJ, Ittner LM (2010) Sodium selenate mitigates tau pathology, neurodegeneration and functional deficits in Alzheimer’s disease models.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107: 13888-13893.
  6. Ittner LM, Ke YD, Delerue F, Bi M, Gladbach A, van Eersel J, Wölfing H, Chieng BC, Christie MJ, Napier IA, Eckert A, Staufenbiel M, Hardeman E, Gotz J (2010) Dendritic Function of Tau Mediates Amyloid-β Toxicity in Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Models.Cell 142: 387-397.

View all DRU publications


Resources & Tools

Our expertise includes generation and analysis of genetically modified mice, behavioural testing (incl. touch-screen operant chambers), telemetric electroencephalography, live microscopy, histology, adeno-associated and lenti viruses, primary neuronal cultures, molecular cloning and biochemical assays.

Grants & Funding

Our research program into disease mechanisms in neurodegeneration and function of the healthy brain is supported by Project and Program funding from the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Research Council (ARC) and national foundations.


Our drug development program depends on philanthropic support and personal donations. To make a difference and support our research please contact Prof Ittner ( ) directly.


Mian Bi, NHMRC Md/PhD Student,

Julia van der Hoven, PhD Student,

Stefania Ippati, PhD Student,

Lisa Suh, PhD Student,

Alexander Volkerling, PhD Student,

Wei Siang Lee, PhD Student,

Prita Riana Asih, PhD Student,

Magdalena Przybyla, PhD Student,

Kristie Stefanoska, PhD Student,

Merryn Brettle, PhD Student,

Sherilyn Yao, Student Assistant,