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Dr Adjanie Patabendige

Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science




Dr Patabendige is a neuroscientist with significant research expertise in cerebrovascular biology, and in particular, studying the BBB (the specialised physiological barrier that protects the brain from blood-borne toxins and pathogens, and regulates molecular traffic between the blood and the brain) in health and disease. She received her PhD from King’s College London (University of London), UK under the mentorship of Prof Joan Abbott. During her PhD, she developed a porcine BBB model that mimics the in vivo BBB closely (Patabendige et al., 2013). This is one of the most robust and reproducible primary BBB models currently available, and is being used by many academics and pharmaceutical companies for drug screening and functional studies.

Her postdoctoral research at the University of Liverpool (PI Prof Tom Solomon) was focused on developing a human BBB model to study viral encephalitis. Here she used containment level 3 flaviviruses to investigate the mechanisms of neuroinvasion across the human BBB and the pro-inflammatory cytokine response on the brain endothelium (Patabendige et al., 2018). In 2012, Dr Patabendige was awarded one of the inaugural David Sainsbury Fellowships from the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs, UK) for early career researchers. Following her relocation to Australia, Dr Patabendige was recruited to the University of Newcastle in 2016 (PI Prof Neil Spratt) recognising her expertise in BBB and cerebrovascular biology. Here she worked on an NHMRC funded project on intracranial pressure (ICP) and hypothermia treatment for stroke, where she developed an interest in cerebrospinal fluid dynamics in ischaemic stroke (Bothwell et al., 2019). Dr Patabendige was awarded an Early-Mid Career Fellowship from the NSW Ministry of Health in 2018 to investigate the mechanisms that contribute to early neurological deterioration in ischaemic stroke patients.

Research Interests

Development and establishment of physiologically-relevant in vitro models

Using a range of in vitro blood-brain barrier (BBB) models, we aim to understand the detailed cellular and molecular mechanisms of BBB dysfunction in neurological and cardiovascular diseases, including identification of new disease biomarkers. In addition, in collaboration with pharmaceutical industry partners, brain penetration of selected neuroprotective drugs across the BBB are being investigated.

Understanding the pathophysiology of ischaemic stroke

We are also interested in investigating the mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of impaired brain fluid homeostasis in neurological diseases such as stroke and brain trauma. Disruption of brain fluid dynamics can be life threatening, as this leads to an elevated intracranial pressure (ICP). We have demonstrated that changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volume can lead to ICP elevation in ischaemic stroke in preclinical studies. We are now exploring clinical translation and potential treatment strategies to reduce the ICP elevation in ischaemic stroke. 

Twitter: @APatabendige