Professor Peter Silburn

Director, Education and Clinical, Asia Pacific Centre for Neuromodulation

Contact Information
Building: QBI Building #79
Tel: +61 7 334 66300

Mailing Address

Queensland Brain Institute
The University of Queensland
Brisbane, 4072



Short biography

Research directions

Current collaborations

Selected publications


Short biography

Neurologist, Peter Silburn is a Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at The University of Queensland, Director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Neuromodulation, and a world expert in the treatment and research of Parkinson's disease, related neurodegenerative disorders and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).

Professor Silburn's work in DBS is changing the lives of patients with a wide range of diseases and conditions for whom standard medical therapies have not been effective, including patients with Parkinson's disease, Dystonia, Tourette's syndrome, Essential Tremor, and Post-stroke disorders.

Professor Silburn graduated from The University of Queensland in 1988 and commenced training in neurology at The Princess Alexandra Hospital, completing his training at Oxford in The United Kingdom at the Radcliffe Infirmary. He was subsequently the Clinical Lecturer in Neurology at the University of Oxford.

He then went to the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, as a Research Fellow in the Department of Molecular Medicine. He returned to Brisbane in July 1996, commenced private practice and established affiliations with The University of Queensland.

He became full Professor in Neurobiology in 2006 and Foundation Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at the UQ School of Medicine in 2007.

Research directions

Neuro-Linguistics and the Human Brain in Action

Research focus on linguistic functioning in the normal population as well as those with neurological disorders. The group has developed a methodology for direct microelectrode neuronal recordings of the human brain during language tasks from patients undergoing functional neurosurgery whilst they are awake.

Professor Silburn plans to incorporate functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain into the research protocols and state of the art microelectrode recording analysis. This research is being carried out in close collaboration with UQ’s Associate Professor’s Andrew Bradley and Paul Meehan of the Department of Information Technology Electrical Engineering, and Department of Mechanical Engineering respectively.

Neurosurgery for Movement Disorders

Research focus on functional neurosurgery and basal ganglia surgery for movement disorders. The multidisciplinary group has developed operative techniques including neuroimaging, microelectrode recordings of the human brain and clinical assessment protocols, which have attracted significant attention in the Australasia-Pacific region.

Overall, the team has been established to not only improve outcomes for the patients but assist the improvement of health care delivery and ongoing research activity. These surgical procedures are being performed predominantly for disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Essential Tremor and Dystonia, Tourette Syndrome but also with a view to expanding into the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders through an Australia wide collaborative process.

Health Care Delivery

Effective health care delivery is one of the key components of the strategic plan of the National Health and Medical Research Council. The ability to monitor the research group’s cohort through the various phases of health care delivery is a significant advantage provided by not only the relative large number of patients to other cohorts from multiple centres but also examining patients from early diagnosis through to entry into high level care and high technology inputs such as deep brain stimulator surgery. The researchers are in the process of establishing a mathematical modelling of health care delivery and outcomes through the private health system.

Stem Cell Biology in Human Disease

The main research goal of this study is to generate patient and disease specific stem cells to ultimately examine the underlying biological process and potential restorative therapies. This research is being carried out in close collaborations with researchers at the Eskitis Institute, Griffith University.

Genetic Contributions to Parkinson’s Disease.

Research focus on the genetic contributions to neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. Specifically, investigations into linking epidemiology, environmental risk factor analysis, and genetic susceptibilities to better understand the motor and non-motor features of Parkinson’s disease.  This research is carried out in close collaboration with Professor George Mellick of the Eskitis Institute, Griffith University. Through a better understanding of the genetic susceptibility of individuals the research group hopes to correlate this background information with other aspects of the individual’s care, including microelectrode recordings during surgery and the impact of their disease to the community and health care system.

Current collaborations

  • Professor Kerry Mengersen, Queensland University of Technology, and Professor Luke Connelly, The University of Queensland
  • Professor George Mellick, Eskitis Institute, Griffith University
  • Associate Professor Andrew Bradley (Department of Information Technology Electrical Engineering) and Professor Paul Meehan (Department of Mechanical Engineering), The University of Queensland  

Selected publications 

Fytagoridis, A., Silburn, P. A., Coyne, T. J., & Thevathasan, W. (2016). Understanding the human pedunculopontine nucleus in Parkinson's disease. J Neural Transm (Vienna). doi:10.1007/s00702-016-1505-x

Poortvliet, P. C., Silburn, P. A., Coyne, T. J., & Chenery, H. J. (2015). Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson disease in Australia: current scientific and clinical status. Intern Med J, 45(2), 134-139. doi:10.1111/imj.12656

Subramanian, H. H., Arun, M., Silburn, P. A., & Holstege, G. (2015). Motor organization of positive and negative emotional vocalization in the cat midbrain periaqueductal gray. J Comp Neurol. doi:10.1002/cne.23869

Todorovic, M., Newman, J. R., Shan, J., Bentley, S., Wood, S. A., Silburn, P. A., & Mellick, G. D. (2015). Comprehensive assessment of genetic sequence variants in the antioxidant 'master regulator' NRF2 in idiopathic Parkinson's disease. PLoS One, 10(5), e0128030. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128030

Coupland, K. G., Mellick, G. D., Silburn, P. A., Mather, K., Armstrong, N. J., Sachdev, P. S., . . . Kwok, J. B. (2014). DNA methylation of the MAPT gene in Parkinson's disease cohorts and modulation by vitamin E in vitro. Mov Disord, 29(13), 1606-1614. doi:10.1002/mds.25784

Newman, J. R., Boyle, R. S., O'Sullivan, J. D., Silburn, P. A., & Mellick, G. D. (2014). Risk factors for idiopathic dystonia in Queensland, Australia. J Clin Neurosci, 21(12), 2145-2149. doi:10.1016/j.jocn.2014.03.032

Newman, J. R., Todorovic, M., Silburn, P. A., Sutherland, G. T., & Mellick, G. D. (2014). Lack of reproducibility in re-evaluating associations between GCH1 polymorphisms and Parkinson's disease and isolated dystonia in an Australian case--control group. Parkinsonism Relat Disord, 20(6), 668-670. doi:10.1016/j.parkreldis.2014.02.014

Sachdev, P. S., Mohan, A., Cannon, E., Crawford, J. D., Silberstein, P., Cook, R., . . . Silburn, P. A. (2014). Deep brain stimulation of the antero-medial globus pallidus interna for Tourette syndrome. PLoS One, 9(8), e104926. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104926

Tattersall, T. L., Stratton, P. G., Coyne, T. J., Cook, R., Silberstein, P., Silburn, P. A., . . . Sah, P. (2014). Imagined gait modulates neuronal network dynamics in the human pedunculopontine nucleus. Nat Neurosci, 17(3), 449-454. doi:10.1038/nn.3642

Sheard, J. M., Ash, S., Mellick, G. D., Silburn, P. A., & Kerr, G. K. (2013). Markers of disease severity are associated with malnutrition in Parkinson's disease. PLoS One, 8(3), e57986. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057986

Sheard, J. M., Ash, S., Silburn, P. A., & Kerr, G. K. (2013). Nutritional status in Parkinson's disease patients undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery: a pilot study. J Nutr Health Aging, 17(2), 148-151. doi:10.1007/s12603-012-0386-4

Hyam, J. A., Kringelbach, M. L., Silburn, P. A., Aziz, T. Z., & Green, A. L. (2012). The autonomic effects of deep brain stimulation--a therapeutic opportunity. Nat Rev Neurol, 8(7), 391-400. doi:10.1038/nrneurol.2012.100

Sachdev, P. S., Cannon, E., Coyne, T. J., & Silburn, P. A. (2012). Bilateral deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens for comorbid obsessive compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome. BMJ Case Rep, 2012. doi:10.1136/bcr-2012-006579

Arnott, W. L., Chenery, H. J., Copland, D. A., Murdoch, B. E., & Silburn, P. A. (2011). The effect of backward masking on direct and indirect semantic priming in patients with Parkinson's disease and in healthy individuals. Brain and Language, 87(1), 101-102.

Arnott, W. L., Copland, D. A., Chenery, H. J., Murdoch, B. E., Silburn, P. A., & Angwin, A. J. (2011). The Influence of Dopamine on Automatic and Controlled Semantic Activation in Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson's Disease, 2011