Dr Rachel Okolicsanyi

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NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow

2015   PhD, Queensland University of Technology

2003   Masters of Molecular Biology, University of Queensland

2001   Bachelor in Science, University of Queensland

Dr Rachel Okolicsanyi is an emerging early career researcher who recently completed her PhD in the Genomics Research Centre (2016) and was recently awarded a prestigious competitive national NHMRC-ARC Dementia Fellowship (2017-2022). Her PhD investigated the role of heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) in neural lineage differentiation of adult human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC). This work identified several HSPGs as potential new targets controlling neural fate specification to be applied to the development of improved models to examine and repair brain damage. Dr Okolicsanyi’s current work extends this research by comparing HSPG influence on fate determination in both hMSC and neural stem cell models to correlate any PG specific influences with dementia and plaque formation.

Dr Okolicsanyi has a Bachelor in Science (UQ) and a Masters of Molecular Biology (UQ). She worked in research for 6 years after graduating in 2003, initially in forensic and prenatal diagnostic research at AGRF in Brisbane. Following this she spent 2 years working at Newcastle University in the UK investigating associations between iron pathway gene polymorphisms and Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Returning from the UK, Dr Okolicsanyi undertook a research position at Griffith University researching the genetics of alcoholic brains.