Associate Professor Paul Dawson

Honorary Associate Professor

Mater Research Institute-UQ
Faculty of Medicine

Honorary Associate Professor

School of Biomedical Sciences
Faculty of Medicine

Overview

Associate Professor Paul Dawson is the Mater Research Head of Education, a Principal Research Fellow and Program Leader of the Neuroscience and Cognitive Health research program at Mater Research, as well as being an Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Queensland. Paul leads the Developmental Disorders Research Group at the Mater with a team of more than 10 biomedical and clinical researchers. Paul has authored over 80 scientific publications, with a strong research interest in the developmental origins of neuro-disability.

Paul’s research group collaborates very closely with neonatologists, maternal fetal medicine specialists, obstetricians, bioinformaticians and biochemical pathologists at Mater to investigate clinical, biochemical and genetic markers that predict adverse neurodevelopmental outcome. In particular, his research is focussed on cerebral palsy, non-syndromic intellectual disability, autism and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in preterm infants. Paul through his work has brought many collaborative groups together. Some of his notable collaborations are with the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH), UQ Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR), Queensland Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disability (QCIDD), the University of Sydney, Cerebral Palsy Alliance and international collaborations at McGill University.

Paul has received more than $1.5 million in competitive grant funding as lead investigator and notes a career highlight as being one of the key investigators, and Autism Biobank member, at the Autism Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) which was awarded $31 million from the Australian government.

Paul is heavily involved in national and international peer review and is a strong advocate for health and medical research with executive roles (Past-President, Chair Advisory Committee) for the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR). Paul is currently the Co-Chair of the Queensland Perinatal Consortium (QPaCt) and contributes annually as a review panel member for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

‘My career in medical research happened for many reasons, including my interest and passion for understanding the genetics of disorders that impact on people’s health and well-being. In my early days, I was fortunate to work with a group of like-minded biomedical and clinician scientists which kicked off many discoveries in neurodevelopmental outcomes, as well as the opportunity to develop and investigate pre-clinical models with the aim of implementing research outcomes to improve healthcare. Working at Mater provides a fantastic opportunity to investigate new approaches for reducing the risks of neurodevelopment in preterm infants. I look forward to the coming years when the benefits of our Mater-led research will be realised and proven around the globe. It’s a privilege to be part of medical research and looking back I wouldn’t change a thing.’

Research Impacts

Since joining Mater Research in 2010, A/Prof Dawson has brought together collaborative groups of clinicians, biomedical researchers, research entities (MCH/LCCH, MMH, QBI, QCIDD, AIBN, UQ CAI and SBMS) and the Mater Foundation, to investigate the aetiology of neurodevelopmental disorders. These collaborations align with Mater’s strategic research programs Neuroscience and Cognitive Health and Mothers, Babies and Maternal Care. A/Prof Dawson was appointed Program Leader of Neurosciences and Cognitive Health in June 2016. Highlights of A/Prof Dawson’s research achievements include:

  • Investigator (and Autism Biobank member representing Mater Research) in Program 1 of Autism CRC ($31.01M) 2013-2020.
  • Investigator in the Queensland Floods 2011 (QF2011) study, studying the consequences of prenatal maternal stress on child behavioural, developmental and metabolic outcomes. Co-author on 2 publications.
  • CIA on NHMRC-funded study ($720k 2015-2019, ranked 3rd quartile category 6) to investigate the links between biochemistry, genetics and neurodevelopmental outcomes, including cerebral palsy, in preterm infants.
  • Principal Investigator on an Autism CRC Innovative grant using iPS cells as a model to study the cellular and molecular basis of autism ($40k, 2014-2015).
  • Investigator on genetic/clinical studies of Intellectual Disability, with collaborations between Mater Research, LCCH, QCIDD and the Queensland Brain Institute.
  • Initiated and led a world-first NATA approved diagnostic test (and establishment of clinical reference ranges) for plasma and urine sulphate measurements in Mater Pathology, South Brisbane, which has gained media attention for use in his NHMRC-funded neurodevelopmental studies.
  • His achievements in perinatal research were recognised with the 2016 Simon & Nell George Award ($10,000) in recognition of exceptional work undertaken at the Mater in the area of Maternal and/or early childhood health and for support for the work of the Mater Foundation.
  • Oral presentations at 25 local and 20 national/international scientific meetings.
  • Initiated and prepared grant applications with successful funding of $1.5M (2010-present).
  • Contributed as investigator on equipment grants with funding of $540,000 (2011-present).
  • Recipient of Mater Foundation Research Fellowship (2014-20).

Qualifications

  • PhD, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), University of New England

Publications

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Supervision

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Available Projects

  • PhD project to investigate the molecular genetics and pathophysiology of nutrient sulfate deficiency in human fetal and neonatal development. The project will incorporate clinical, biochemical, genetic and molecular biology approaches.

  • The overarching aims of this study are to determine the pharmacokinetics of sulfate in preterm infants in order to develop a simple efficacious sulfate neuroprotection therapy administered to neonates.

  • This study will investigate the genetic causes/factors that may contribute to currently unexplained intellectual disability. The study will increase understanding of fundamental biological abnormalities underpinning intellectual disability.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • PhD project to investigate the molecular genetics and pathophysiology of nutrient sulfate deficiency in human fetal and neonatal development. The project will incorporate clinical, biochemical, genetic and molecular biology approaches.

  • The overarching aims of this study are to determine the pharmacokinetics of sulfate in preterm infants in order to develop a simple efficacious sulfate neuroprotection therapy administered to neonates.

  • This study will investigate the genetic causes/factors that may contribute to currently unexplained intellectual disability. The study will increase understanding of fundamental biological abnormalities underpinning intellectual disability.