Professor Sarah Dunlop

Prominent neuroscientist improving outcomes for spinal cord injury

Professor Sarah Dunlop is a leading researcher in neurotrauma. She has been funded by the National Health & Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council and other funding bodies, including the Neurotrauma Research Program, since 1981. Sarah held NHMRC Research Fellowships, being a NHMRC Principal Research Fellow until 2013. She has attracted over $32 million in program, project and equipment funding and has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and invited reviews.

After completing her PhD in Zoology at the University of London, Professor Dunlop helped set up a neuroscience program at UWA. She has held a number of senior leadership positions including President of the Australasian Neuroscience Society and President of the Federation of Asian & Oceanian Neuroscience Societies. She helped establish the Spinal Cord Injury Network, an organisation dedicated to connecting researchers, clinicians and the community to support individuals living with this condition; she was a Board member and Chair of the Clinical Trials Committee.

Professor Dunlop coordinates an integrated program of laboratory and clinical research at the University as well as Royal Perth and Fiona Stanley Hospitals to promote functional recovery after traumatic injury to the nervous system. Laboratory studies use models to focus on understanding and preventing the spread of secondary degeneration to intact tissue. Clinical studies comprise three multi-centre randomised controlled trials known as Spinal Cord Injury and Physical Activity (SCIPA). The research involved eight spinal units in Australia and New Zealand to examine ways to exercise paralysed limbs and promote neurological recovery and improve health.

As part of the Immediate Cooling and Early Decompression (ICED) multi-centre clinical initiative, her research focuses on acute spinal cord injury involving immediate hypothermia in the ambulance to limit secondary damage before emergency surgical decompression. She is also leading a West Australian initiative to examine bladder care and urinary tract infections, a major secondary complication following spinal cord injury, to promote best practice for both in-patients and those living in the community.



National Health and Medical Research Council

  • Targeted nanoparticles to deliver combinations of calcium channel inhibitors to prevent myelin damage during secondary degeneration after neurotrauma
  • Dr Nicole Smith, Professor Sarah Dunlop, Associate Professor Killugudi Swaminatha Iyer and Professor Melinda Fitzgerald


Neurotrauma Research Program (NRP)

  • Targeting Four-stranded DNA Conformations to Enable Axonal Regeneration Following Neurotrauma
  • Dr Nicole Smith, Professor Sarah Dunlop and Professor Melinda Fitzgerald


Neurotrauma Research Program (NRP)

  • Urinary Tract Management and Infection Control After Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
  • Louise Goodes and Professor Sarah Dunlop

More grants and publications.

Contact Professor Sarah Dunlop

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