Professor Jürgen Götz studied biochemistry in Switzerland before doing his PhD with Nobel Laureate Georges Köhler at the Max Planck Institute in Germany.
Following postdoctoral work in the US and work in the pharmaceutical industry, he established his reputation in dementia research in Switzerland, before taking up a Professorial position at The University of Sydney in 2005.;
He was recruited to The University of Queensland by Professor Perry Bartlett in 2012 to establish the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research (CJCADR).
Under Professor Götz’s guidance, researchers from CADR have identified several key mechanisms involved in the aetiology of dementia.
“We have determined at a molecular level what causes Alzheimer’s disease, by discovering how the two key players, tau and beta-amyloid, interact and cause the neurons in the brain to die,” he said.
Following the discovery, Professor Götz and his team worked hard to discover how to prevent this neuron death.
“By successfully developing methods to block the toxic effects of tau and beta-amyloid in our model systems, we are now at a point at which screening assays need to be developed to identify compounds that at some point will become drugs to treat Alzheimer’s.”
In fact, this work is now being developed into novel antibodies to vaccinate against Alzheimer’s disease.
“We are developing better methods to get these compounds, or the antibodies, for that matter, into the brain, a particularly challenging task, but we employ an effective method using ultrasonic waves – a non-intrusive way of breaking through the blood-brain barrier.”
Professor Götz is now hoping to expand the Centre by attracting world-class scientists to work on Parkinson’s disease, and head trauma due to sports injuries.
“Above all, we want to develop our therapeutic strategies to a point where they can be administered through clinics,” he said.