Associate Professor Paul Dawson

Honorary Associate Professor

Mater Research Institute-UQ
Faculty of Medicine

Overview

Associate Professor Paul Dawson is the Mater Research Head of Education, MRI-UQ Director of Higher Degree Research, and a Mater Foundation Principal Research Fellow. Paul leads the Neurodevelopmental Research Group at Mater, which is focussed on cerebral palsy in preterm infants, non-syndromic intellectual disability and autism.

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 outcomes. In particular, his research is focussed on the role of nutrient sulphate in brain development. 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), the University of Sydney and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

With over 80 research publications, Paul notes a career highlight as being one of the key investigators, and Autism Biobank member, in 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 2012, Chair Advisory Committee) for the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR).

‘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 neurodevelopment, 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 risk of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes 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 contribute to Australian health and medical research.’

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

  • Romero, Ana, Sharp, Julia L., Dawson, Paul L., Darby, Duncan and Cooksey, Kay (2021). Evaluation of two intelligent packaging prototypes with a pH indicator to determine spoilage of cow milk. Food Packaging and Shelf Life, 30 100720, 100720. doi: 10.1016/j.fpsl.2021.100720

  • Yap, Chloe X., Henders, Anjali K., Alvares, Gail A., Wood, David L.A., Krause, Lutz, Tyson, Gene W., Restuadi, Restuadi, Wallace, Leanne, McLaren, Tiana, Hansell, Narelle K., Cleary, Dominique, Grove, Rachel, Hafekost, Claire, Harun, Alexis, Holdsworth, Helen, Jellett, Rachel, Khan, Feroza, Lawson, Lauren P., Leslie, Jodie, Frenk, Mira Levis, Masi, Anne, Mathew, Nisha E., Muniandy, Melanie, Nothard, Michaela, Miller, Jessica L., Nunn, Lorelle, Holtmann, Gerald, Strike, Lachlan T., de Zubicaray, Greig I. ... Gratten, Jacob (2021). Autism-related dietary preferences mediate autism-gut microbiome associations. Cell, 184 (24), 5916-5931.e17. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.10.015

  • Yap, Chloe X., Alvares, Gail A., Henders, Anjali K., Lin, Tian, Wallace, Leanne, Farrelly, Alaina, McLaren, Tiana, Berry, Jolene, Vinkhuyzen, Anna A. E., Trzaskowski, Maciej, Zeng, Jian, Yang, Yuanhao, Cleary, Dominique, Grove, Rachel, Hafekost, Claire, Harun, Alexis, Holdsworth, Helen, Jellett, Rachel, Khan, Feroza, Lawson, Lauren, Leslie, Jodie, Levis Frenk, Mira, Masi, Anne, Mathew, Nisha E., Muniandy, Melanie, Nothard, Michaela, Visscher, Peter M., Dawson, Paul A., Dissanayake, Cheryl ... Gratten, Jacob (2021). Analysis of common genetic variation and rare CNVs in the Australian Autism Biobank. Molecular Autism, 12 (1) 12, 12. doi: 10.1186/s13229-020-00407-5

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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.

  • 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.

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Publications

Book Chapter

  • Dawson, Paul A., Elliott, Aoife and Bowling, Francis G. (2017). Sulphate in pregnancy. Nutrition in Pregnancy. (pp. 110-123) edited by Janna L. Morrison and Timothy R.H. Regnault. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI. doi: 10.3390/books978-3-03842-367-6

  • Dawson, Paul Anthony (2012). The Biological Roles of Steroid Sulfonation. Steroids. (pp. 45-64) edited by Sergej M. Ostojic. Croatia: InTech. doi: 10.5772/52714

  • Dawson, P., Cooksey, K. and Mangalassary, S. (2008). Environmentally friendly packaging of muscle foods. Environmentally Compatible Food Packaging. (pp. 496-520) Elsevier Inc.. doi: 10.1533/9781845694784.3.496

  • Dawson, P. L. (2008). Novel methods to improve the safety and quality of in-pack processed ready-to-eat meat and poultry products. In-Pack Processed Foods: Improving Quality. (pp. 358-381) Elsevier Ltd.. doi: 10.1533/9781845694692.4.358

  • Dawson, Paul L. and Spineli, Nick (2007). Poultry Meat Flavor. Handbook of Meat, Poultry and Seafood Quality. (pp. 439-454) Ames, Iowa, USA: Blackwell Publishing. doi: 10.1002/9780470277829.ch34

  • Dawson, P. L. and Stephens, C. (2004). Poultry packaging. Poultry Meat Processing and Quality. (pp. 135-163) Elsevier Inc.. doi: 10.1016/B978-1-85573-727-3.50012-7

  • Acton, J. C. and Dawson, P. L. (2004). Impact of proteins on food colour. Proteins in Food Processing. (pp. 631-668) Elsevier Ltd.. doi: 10.1533/9781855738379.3.631

  • Dawson, P. L. and Sheldon, B. W. (2003). Nisin in the decontamination of animal products. Natural Antimicrobials for the Minimal Processing of Foods. (pp. 34-63) Elsevier Ltd. doi: 10.1016/B978-1-85573-669-6.50008-3

  • Dawson, Paul A. and Marini, Joan C. (2000). Osteogenesis imperfecta. The genetics of osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease. (pp. 75-93) edited by Michael J. Econs. London: Springer Science & Business Media. doi: 10.1007/978-1-59259-033-9

  • Dawson, Paul L. (2000). Packaging. Poultry Meat Processing. (pp. 73-95) CRC Press.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

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.

  • 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.