15. Professor Perry Bartlett: Team Brisbane

Professor Perry Bartlett. Photo: Richard BriggsProfessor Perry Bartlett has dedicated his working life to studying the human brain.
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In the 1990s, he co-led a scientific team that discovered that stem cells in the brain could produce new neurons. It was a finding that gave hope that there may one day be a cure for diseases like dementia.

He moved from Melbourne to Brisbane 12 years ago to establish the Queensland Brain Institute, which has grown from a team of 10 to about 450 and has received more than $150 million in funding over a decade.

The institute, based at the University of Queensland in St Lucia, now has 35 lab teams trying to understand how the brain works.

“In terms of an institute who really focuses on fundamental discoveries and how brain circuitry and learning and memory works, we’re probably one of the largest institutes in the world,” he said.

He said cooperation was vital to their success.

“It’s very important to let the best and the brightest people to go at it, somewhat individually, but what one needs is the ability then to take those discoveries and investigate very rapidly how important they are and how they apply to diseases or to learning across the board,” he said.

“That requires teams of people to do it.”

About 332,000 Australians currently have dementia, but without a cure that number is expected to triple by 2050.

Professor Bartlett said in order to prevent this, scientists needed to better understand the brain before trying to repair it.

“It is a long game, it’s a tough game,” he said.

Given institutes like QBI receive a bulk of their funding from grants, Professor Bartlett says there was an increasing trend of governments and research councils placing higher expectations on short-term results.

“Short-term funding leads to people doing non-risk research, which usually doesn’t have any significant output in terms of discoveries and innovation,” he said.

“The US, Korea, China and Japan all understand that unless governments back that discovery phase then no-one else will. If you don’t support that as a government then you don’t have anything that industry can work on downstream.”

“We may well lose our ability to be at the forefront of discoveries, and this country has done very well especially in the biomedical sciences.”

That said, Professor Bartlett said neurological research had reached an exciting phase.

Researchers at QBI can now analyse individual brain cells in mice, and are not far behind with humans.

“We’re getting to the stage now where we can nearly do everything in the human that we can do in animals. The next 10 years is going to be very much focused on to use this technology to look at human function, rather than animals functions,” he said.

Professor Bartlett still enjoys his time in the lab and heads up a team that last year analysed how the loss of neurons is linked to the loss of cognitive function. The team also researched treatment of spinal cord injury.

Now 67, Professor Bartlett said he would remain director of QBI for at least another year, after which he planned to spend more time in the lab.

Visit the Team Brisbane website

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Victory eyeing Strikers winger

IT STARTED with a spot on the bench for Tasmania against the Melbourne Victory youth team late last month.
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HOT PROPERTY: Michael Holden lines up for Melbourne Victory’s youth team during a trial match.

Thirty-three minutes, one goal, and a near-miss later, Michael Holden suddenly became hot property among some of Australia’s biggest A-League clubs.

The 17-year-old now finds himself in Melbourne for a week-long trial with the Victory youth team, after initial interest from Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers.

It’s been a whirlwind few days for the Devonport Strikers winger, who is still coming to terms with the fact he may get signed by the team he supports.

‘‘I got a call-up from the Victory last Thursday and they organised me to come over,’’ Holden told The Advocate yesterday.

‘‘Sydney and Western Sydney showed some interest, but Melbourne just got it all done for me and were first in.

‘‘A couple of years ago Kevin Muscat [Victory coach] came down to Devonport for a clinic and I’ve followed him and Melbourne Victory ever since.’’

Holden, who travelled over with his dad Stewart, had little time to settle in to his new environment, lining up for the Victory in a trial match against Box Hill the day after he arrived.

He will train with the squad three times this week, before a second trial match on Saturday night.

‘‘It’s been good so far, I’ve been enjoying it,’’ Holden said.

‘‘I didn’t think I went too bad in the first match — it was the first time I had met them [my teammates].

‘‘They play the same formation as we do at Devonport, but it is a bit more technical than what I am used to.’’

Upon his return home next week, Holden won’t have long to find out if he has made the cut, with the Foxtel National Youth League starting on October 18.

‘‘They have 25 players at the moment, but they are looking to contract 16 of them,’’ Holden said.’’

‘‘When I get back we will see what happens, but nothing is organised at the moment — I’m guessing I’ll get a call from them (Victory).

‘‘It’s always been a dream that’s starting to come to reality now and it’s a bit of a shock.’’

Holden’s elation was also shared by Strikers president Rod Andrews, who said it was a great coup for his club to have a talented player get a direct chance with an A-League club.

‘‘It’s just great vindication for our club in terms of what we are doing with our junior program,’’ he said.

‘‘Sydney FC wanted his details on Monday, a couple of other clubs were in it as well, then Melbourne Victory came along and trumped them all.’’

Holden could become the third North-West Coaster to break into the A-League system, with former Devonport player Jesse Curran still in the Central Coast Mariners’ set-up, while Ulverstone junior Jeremy Walker’s stint at Melbourne Heart came to a close last season.

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Cawston and Bourn the big hits for Coast at titles

BEN Cawston and Tully Bourn were the standout Coastal players at the Medibank Tasmanian state championships gold JT, tournament director Trent Constance says.
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TOP PERFORMER: Ulverstone’s Ben Cawston prepares to serve in the 18-and-under playoff for third. Picture: Meg Windram.

Competition wrapped up yesterday after Monday’s downpour forced the completion of the tournament at the Burnie Tennis Club to be delayed.

‘‘There was some really good tennis played, and it’s always good to play at the Burnie Tennis Club,’’ Constance said.

‘‘There were some very impressive performances in testing conditions at times.’’

Constance said Cawston, Bourn and Hobart’s Daniel Groom were among those to underline their potential.

‘‘Daniel won the 16 and under, the 18 and under and the doubles, so he won all the events he played in,’’ Constance said.

‘‘From the North-West, the best player was Ben Cawston, and Tully Bourn, from Burnie, also had a very strong tournament.’’

Constance said Bourn was a surprise packet and would gain valuable ranking points from her performances.

The inclement weather and resulting delay caused South Australian David Abfalter to miss out on his playoff matches yesterday, due to being unable to change his flights.

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Keiselis busy in variety of roles

IF YOU ventured to a basketball stadium around Tasmania over the course of 2014, there is fair chance you would have seen Stacey Keiselis.
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HUGE COMMITMENT: The August nomination for service to sport award, Somerset basketball coach, Stacey Keiselis. Picture: Stuart Wilson.

The junior coach was involved in a number of teams throughout the year, ranging from the Tasmanian under-16 girls team, Somerset junior intertown teams and the Marist College school team.

Keiselis’s huge commitment to the sport has seen her bestowed August’s service to sport nomination The Advocate IGA junior sports awards.

With such a variety of roles, Keiselis said she was busy most nights of the week and admitted to having to pause at times and think about what group she was about to coach.

‘‘Between all the junior teams I coach and state teams, it’s been a busy year,’’ she said.

‘‘It probably takes up six nights a week, but it could possibly be seven — it could be my full-time job that I don’t get paid for.’’

After a playing career that covered Smithton and Somerset, Keiselis returned to the sport 10 years ago with the Heat.

She said one of the highlights of 2014 was winning a state title with the club.

‘‘Our under-18 girls won the state championship last month against Hobart team Cavaliers and I was pretty proud of them,’’ Keiselis said.

While the basketball season enjoys somewhat of a break this time of year, Keiselis is still involved, and hopes to be just as busy again in 2015.

‘‘I’m still mixed up with North-West development programs through Mark Radford and help out with that,’’ she said.

‘‘I’ll probably still do the roles again next year — I’m just waiting on state team selections to see whether I go down that path again, but I’ll still have the Somerset teams.’’

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Offers for netball squads

BALLARAT Sovereigns have all but finalised their inaugural Victorian Netball League squads.
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The new VNL franchise, which replaced Ballarat Pride, has started making player offers following three trial sessions under head coach Natasha Chokljat and high performance manager Eloise Southby.

About 100 candidates showcased their game and billing for Chokljat and Southby, both former Australian netballers, helped attract players from as far as Warrnambool,

Moama, St Arnaud, Edenhope and Melbourne to try for the squads.

The Sovereigns will sport three playing squads under the VNL structure – championship, division one and 19/unders – but Southby has indicated the Sovereigns will also form a development squad for raw talent.

“It’s not age specific … just if we do look and think if someone’s young and raw and whether we can develop them over the next few years,” Southby told Sovereigns TV.

“The squad is mainly about competition for the 19/under team.

“Also, you get injuries through the year, people have to move up grades or you need a replacement in the 19s then it’s really important that you’ve got that option.”

Chokljat was particularly impressed with western Victoria’s young talent, and said squad selections now became a juggling act in finding the best fit for each player.

Both Chokljat and Southby were impressed with the Sovereigns’ trial sessions, with numbers and talent intensifying as football-netball competitions across the region wrapped up.

Chokljat said that for those accepting the Sovereigns’ offer, individualised pre-season fitness programs would begin this month with squad sessions to start in November.

Netball Victoria awarded the Sovereigns a three-year VNL licence in early July.

The announcement came just after the end of the 2013 season.

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Book find a treasure trove for historian

A KEEPSAKE that fits into the palm of a hand is the key to unlocking a story from World War II.
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HISTORIC FIND: Latrobe historian Jim Frost bought a book of Persian poetry in an auction in Devonport earlier in the year and was fascinated to find the book had an inscription for a man who served in the Australian Army in 1942. Picture: Jason Hollister.

Latrobe historian Jim Frost picked up the small and inconspicuous book at a clearance auction in Devonport earlier in the year and was fascinated that the book contained a far more interesting story than the poems it contained.

The small book, with faded yellow pages and a spine held together with sticky-tape, also held an inscription that proved it had once been the property of a Private T Vernal, sent by a woman named Doris.

The book’s inscription, that reads: To dear Thomas, hoping this little book will refresh you. Yours, Doris, was sent to the Base Postal Unit for the AIF abroad on October 27, 1942 from Kent in the United Kingdom.

Mr Frost said he was intrigued not only by the inscription, but also by some markings that were on the back of the small book, that seem to indicate Private Vernal was counting down the days to something.

‘‘It could very well be that he was a prisoner of war,’’ Mr Frost said.

The book is an edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the astronomer-poet of Persia, which is a collection of poems translated into English.

Mr Frost said after a small amount of digging on the internet he found a listing for a Corporal Thomas Vernal who was stationed at Royal Park in Victoria after enlisting at Kew in Victoria in 1940.

Mr Frost said it was obvious the book had been loved and hoped one day to reunite the book with the family of Corporal Thomas Vernal.

‘‘This isn’t a medal, but it’s a keepsake, it’s a memento from the war,’’ Mr Frost said.

‘‘I don’t have any use for it, but I would like to think the family would like to have it.’’

Mr Frost said that day at the auction in Devonport he bought 500 books from a vendor, but said this one immediately drew his eye.

‘‘I didn’t want to let it go,’’ he said.

Mr Frost said he didn’t want to disclose how much he’d paid for it, but said he just thought the book was something special.

‘‘I guess I’m just really interested in the story behind these things,’’ he said.

Mr Frost said he tried enlisting the help of the Kew RSL in trying to track down Corporal Vernal’s family, but so far he’d had no luck.

Anyone who may have an idea who the family or Corporal Thomas Vernal is and would like to see the book can contact Jim Frost on 0456 694 000.

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Ballarat exhibition gallop for Melbourne Cup hopeful More Than Sacred

Robert SmerdonMELBOURNE Cup hopeful More Than Sacred steps up his spring preparation in Ballarat on Wednesday.
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Trainer Robert Smerdon will gallop the former New Zealand five-year-old on the new ground at Sportsbet-Ballarat.

More Than Sacred was one of two Smerdon-trained runners among Melbourne Cup second acceptors released on Tuesday.

He also has English import Noble Protector among the 72 contenders still in the running to face the start at Flemington on Tuesday, November 4.

Third in this year’s Auckland Cup, 3200m, More Than Sacred has had just the one start for Smerdon – a promising fourth over 2000m at Caulfield on September 28.

The exhibition gallop will take place at 4.05pm.

Noble Protector is yet to race for Smerdon.

MEANWHILE, the Darren Weir-trained Signoff is racing for a berth in the Caulfield Cup when he fronts up at Caulfield on Saturday.

Signoff will go around in the group 2 $200,000 Herbert Power Stakes, 2400m.

The winner is guaranteed a start in the Caulfield Cup on Saturday, October 18.

Signoff was the only Weir runner among 41 third acceptors for the Cup on Tuesday.

The five-year-old has mixed his form in three outings this preparation, with a third to Brambles over 1700m at Flemington on September 13 his best run.

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Strategy could create 135 jobs for West

ABOUT 135 new jobs are expected to be created on the West Coast if the state government adopts recommendations made in the West Coast Economic Working Group’s three-month interim report.
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TIME TO DIVERSIFY: West Coast Economic Working Group chairman Adam Brooks speaking in Queenstown at the beginning of the process. Picture: Meg Windram.

The report was handed down by the working group’s chairman Adam Brooks yesterday afternoon in Devonport.

The working group met on Monday night to endorse the three-month interim report that focuses on short, medium and long-term public works and private investment to diversify the West Coast economy.

The West Coast Economic Working Group was established by the state government to address major job losses and the economic impact of the closures of Copper Mines Tasmania Mt Lyell mine at Queenstown and the Henty Gold Mine.

More than 200 submissions from the community were made to the working group and the three-month interim report has identified projects and earmarked them for funding that will form their submission to the state government.

Among the suggestions are short-term projects that include:

■$5.2 million for construction upgrades of Strahan Road

■$8 million for upgrades to the Murchison Highway

■$130,000 fast-tracked funds to help complete track works on the West Coast Wilderness Railway

■$435,000 for walking tracks at Horsetail Falls

■$1.170 million for the construction of mountain bike tracks and the establishment of the Zeehan Mountain Bike Hub

■$50,000 to upgrade Climies four-wheel-drive track to open up four-wheel drive experiences

■$25,000 for geo-tourism to produce interpretative signage at geo-significant landmarks.

Mr Brooks said ultimately the report had reflected the wishes and needs of the West Coast community and that projects endorsed by the working group were ones that would diversify the economy.

The endorsed projects, that focus heavily on tourism and private enterprise projects will need some state government funding to go ahead.

Mr Brooks said they endorsed projects that could work side-by-side with mining ventures in the region.

‘‘There are some mining projects on the table, and I’m hopeful that they’ll be up and running next year so it’s not about that mining is over,’’ Mr Brooks said.

Mr Brooks said the aim of the endorsed projects would be to ensure tourists to the region stayed longer and more often in the region.

‘‘We have a great landscape and people will come here to do that but it’s about giving them more things to do and more opportunities to stay,’’ he said.

The West Coast Economic Working Group will continue to work in the community for another three months before delivering its final report after six months of operations.

Members of the community can continue to submit ideas to the working group until October 31.

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Ballarat trainer on track for hometown success

Starter: Archie Alexander’s new Ballarat stables produced its first win at the end of September. PICTURE: LACHLAN BENCEARCHIE Alexander has had a bright start to his horse training career.
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His new Ballarat stable produced its first win with just his fifth starter.

Tyanna opened the account for the English-born Alexander, who worked with leading trainers in Great Britain, Europe and Australia, before going out on his own, at Seymour on September 25.

Tyanna now has the opportunity to give Alexander his first taste of success on his new home track – Sportsbet-Ballarat – on Wendesday.

She lines up in the Sportsbet Showcase Benchmark70 Handicap, 1400, at Ballarat Turf Club’s long-awaited first race meeting on its newly upgraded track.

The BTC combined with Racing Victoria and state government to carry out the $1.5-million project after last year’s Ballarat Cup in late November last year.

BTC was to have resumed racing on the new racing surface mid-year, but drainage issues in a section of the home straight caused a delay.

The BTC and RV chose to wait until after winter, with today’s meeting launching the countdown to the Ballarat Cup on Saturday, November 22.

Tyanna has had two starts for Alexander, having had a first-up third.

Alexander is one of eight hometown trainers with starters on a strong eight-race program.

Darren Weir has eight, Dan O’Sullivan three, and Simon Morrish, Mark Lewis, Kevin McCartin, John Thom, and Alan Hanrahan one each.

NORTH Melbourne Football Club chairman and television sports broadcaster James Brayshaw will be a special guest at the races.

THE new training partnership of David Hayes and Tom Dabernig has jumped out of the blocks – sitting third on the state premiership table and second in the metropolitan title chase.

They will be looking to carry this on with Duck Dynasty in the Sportsbet-Fixed Odds Specialist 3yo Maiden, 1600m, in Ballarat.

The son of Pentire is nominated for a string of feature races – $250,000 Blue Sapphire, 1200m, at Caulfield next Wednesday; $750,000 Caulfield Classic, 2000m, on Saturday, October 18; and $1.5m Victoria Derby, 2500m, at Flemington on Saturday, November 1.

To get to any of these, Duck Dynasty needs to win at Sportsbet-Ballarat, and easily.

This will be the gelding’s third run this preparation after four unplaced lifetime starts to date.

Other runners still in the loop for spring riches:

• Lashkaal (trained by David Hayes-Tom Dabernig at Euroa): engaged in Porter Plant Fillies’ and Mares’ Maiden, 1600m. Nominated for Blue Sapphire; $1m Crown Oaks, 2500m, at Flemington on Thursday, November 6; $1m Caulfield Guineas, 1000m, on Saturday, October 11; and Caulfield Classic.

• Tears Of Joy (Mark Kavanagh, Flemington): engaged in Porter Plant Fillies’ and Mares’ Maiden, 1600m. Nominated for Crown Oaks; Caulfield Guineas; and Caulfield Classic.

• Sistine Start (Andrew Noblet, Caulfield): engaged in Porter Plant Fillies’ and Mares’ Maiden, 1600m. Nominated for Crown Oaks, $1m Thousand Guineas. 1600m, at Caulfield on Saturday, October 11.

THE Melbourne Demons continue to do it tough, with the latest setback being the loss of James Frawley to Hawthorn as a free agent.

Maybe their luck can change with the Shane Nichols-trained Godavari in the City of Ballarat Maiden, 1400m.

The four-year-old carries the Melbourne colours – navy blue with a red yoke – with former Demons players Barry Bourke and Peter Keenan among the owners.

Godavari has been placed four times in eight starts.

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Planning Dept to decide what is safe

Mary O’Kane after many months has come up with some findings that are rather alarming.
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Mary is the chief state scientist and engineer and has reported to our State Planning Department.

Mary has said of the Coal Seam Gas industry: “It is inevitable that CSG industry will have unintended consequences including the results of human error and naturaldisasters.”

This means that inevitably something will happen that could cause concern within this industry that is unpredictable.

Concerns about the contaminated water from deep down in the bowels of the earth mixing with and contaminating water aquifers could become a reality if we take the chief scientist’s view.

A more serious concern is that it will be a politician of our state’s Planning Department who is going to have the last say on what is safe and what is not safe.

A more serious thought is that NSW is strapped for cash and decisions will be made on financial grounds and not on decisions of common sense and safety.

Bevan O’Regan

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