South Australian Young Tall Poppy of the Year 2010
Gabrielle investigates the brain control of movement. Movement requires an awareness of where the body is in relation to where it intends to go, and selection of the appropriate plan to get there. The aim of her research is to improve our understanding of the mechanisms that permit normal movement and the pathological changes that accompany movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. The movement problems characteristic of Parkinson’s disease result from the death of specific brain cells. Interestingly, however, normal movement appears unaffected for up to ten years after these brain cells begin to die, suggesting that the brain can effectively compensate for this loss in early disease. Gabrielle aims to understand these compensatory mechanisms in the healthy and diseased brain as this knowledge may allow the development of methods to more effectively treat motor dysfunction in persons with Parkinson’s disease.