The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

Ipsum Lorem

Melinda Fitzgerald

Assoc/Prof Lindy Fitzgerald

Principal Research Fellow
Animal Biology, School of

Contact details
School of Animal Biology
The University of Western Australia (M317)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 2353
+61 8 6488 1029
Personal homepage
BSc PhD W.Aust.
Dr Melinda Fitzgerald has been awarded an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship and is Associate Professor at Experimental and Regenerative Neurosciences, School of Animal Biology, The University of Western Australia. She is an independent researcher conceiving and conducting original research, designing and assessing clinically relevant strategies for treatment of neurotrauma. She leads a team of 12 researchers and post-graduate students.
Key research
A/Prof Fitzgerald’s research is focused around understanding and preventing the loss of function that occurs following neurotrauma. She uses innovative analytical techniques to demonstrate changes to key biochemical, cellular and structural components of nerves following injury and is assessing treatment strategies including nanotechnologies and combinatorial pharmacotherapeutics. Her drive to translate her research findings to the clinic is evidenced by her current collaborative clinical trial assessing biomarkers and MRI for prediction of post-concussion syndrome.
Research Articles
1.Griffiths, M. and Keast, D. (1990). The effect of glutamine on murine splenic leukocyte responses to T and B cell mitogens. Immunol. and Cell Biol. 68, 405-408. Impact factor: Not available, Number of citations: 2.
2.Griffiths, M. and Keast, D. (1991). The effects of a leukaemia controlling dose of acivicin on murine splenic lymphocytes in vitro and in vivo. Immunol. and Cell Biol. 69, 395-402. Impact factor: Not available, Number of citations: 21.
3.Griffiths, M., Keast, D., Crawford, G.P.M. and Palmer, NT. (1993). The role of glutamine and glucose analogues in metabolic inhibition of human myeloid leukaemia in vitro. Int. J. Biochem. 25(12), 1749-1755. Impact factor: Not available, Number of citations: 9.
4.Fitzgerald, M., Anderson, K.E. and Woodcock, E.A. (1994) Inositol (1,4,5) trisphosphate [Ins(1,4,5)P3] and Ins(1,4,5)P3 receptor concentrations in heart tissues. Clin. Exp. Pharm. Physiol., 21, 257-260. Impact factor: Not available, Number of citations: 4.
5.Fitzgerald, M., Anderson, K.E. and Woodcock, E.A. (1994) Inositol (1,4,5) trisphosphate receptor function in neonatal cardiomyocytes. European J. Pharmacol., Molecular Pharmacol. Section, 268, 275-278. Impact factor: 2.477, Number of citations: 5.
6.Griffiths, M. and Keast, D. (1994) Fab fragments from the monoclonal antibody ML30 bind to treated human myeloid leukaemia cells. FASEB J. 8, 259-261. Impact factor: 7.064, Number of citations: 7.
7.Fitzgerald, M., Neylon, C.B., Marks, A. and Woodcock, E.A. (1994). Reduced ryanodine receptor content in isolated neonatal cardiomyocytes compared with the intact tissue. J. Mol. Cell. Cardiol. 26, 1261-1265. Impact factor: 3.872, Number of citations: 12.
8.Graham, L.D., Hayward, I.P., Fitzgerald, M., Whitelock, J.M., Bingley, J.A., Campbell, J.H. and Underwood, P.A. (1997) Inhibition of phenotypic modulation, growth, and migration of vascular smooth muscle cells by a guanosine-rich 30-mer phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotide. Cell Biol Int. 21(9):585-94. Impact factor: 1.194.
9.Stathakis, P., Fitzgerald, M., Matthias, L.J., Chesterman, C.N. and Hogg P.J. (1997). Generation of angiostatin by reduction and proteolysis of plasmin. J. Biol. Chem. 272, 20641-20645. Impact factor: 5.854, Number of citations: 164.
10.Fitzgerald, M., Hayward, I.P., Thomas, A.C., Campbell, G.R. and Campbell, J.H. (1999). Matrix metalloproteinases can facilitate the heparanase-induced promotion of phenotypic change in vascular smooth muscles. Atherosclerosis. 145(1):97-106. Impact factor: 3.777, Number of citations: 53.
11.Jiang XM, Fitzgerald M, Grant CM, Hogg PJ. (1999) Redox control of exofacial protein thiols/disulfides by protein disulfide isomerase. J Biol Chem. 274(4):2416-23. Impact factor: 5.854, Number of citations: 148.
12.Stathakis P, Lay AJ, Fitzgerald M, Schlieker C, Matthias LJ, Hogg PJ. (1999) Angiostatin formation involves disulfide bond reduction and proteolysis in kringle 5 of plasmin. J Biol Chem. 274(13):8910-6. Impact factor: 5.854, Number of citations: 100.


13.Fitzgerald, M., Nairn, P., Bartlett, C.A., Chung, R.S., West, A.K., Beazley, L.D. (2007). Metallothionein-IIA promotes neurite growth via the megalin receptor. Exp. Brain Res. 183(2): 171-180. Impact factor: 1.959, Number of citations: 39
14.Chung RS, Penkowa M, Dittman J, King CE, Bartlett CA, Hidalgo J, Carrasco J, Dunlop SA, Fitzgerald M, Beazley LD, Vickers J, West AK. (2008). Metallothionein is an injury-dependent, astrocyte-derived promoter of axonal regeneration in the CNS. J Biol Chem. 283(22): 15349-58. Impact factor: 5.808, Number of citations: 95
15.Fitzgerald M, Lukehurst SS, Dunlop SA, Beazley LD, Rodger J. (2008). Neurite responses to ephrin-A5 modulated by BDNF: evidence for TrkB-EphA interactions. BBRC. 374(4): 625-30. Impact Factor: 2.749, Number of citations: 7
16.Fitzgerald, M., Evill, L., Banz, K., Carroll, S., Rodger, J. Mineralocorticoids restore quiescent morphology and reduce VEGF receptor expression in inflamed choroidal endothelial cells in vitro. (2009). Ophthalmic Research. 41: 44-52. Impact factor: 1.010
17.Fitzgerald, M., Bartlett, C.A., Evill, L., Rodger, J., Harvey, A.R. and Dunlop, S.A. (2009) Secondary degeneration of the optic nerve following partial transection: the benefits of lomerizine. Experimental Neurology. 216(1): 219-230. Impact Factor: 3.9 Number of citations: 38
18.Fitzgerald, M, Payne, S.C., Bartlett, C.A., Evill, L., Harvey, A.R. and Dunlop, S.A. (2009) Secondary retinal ganglion cell death and the neuroprotective effects of the calcium channel blocker, lomerizine. IOVS. 50(11): 5456-62. Number of citations: 44
19.Fitzgerald, M*, Bartlett, C.A., Harvey, A.R., Dunlop, S.A*. (2010) Early events of secondary degeneration after partial optic nerve transection: an immunohistochemical study. J. Neurotrauma 27: 439-452, Number of citations: 38 *note equal contribution by these authors
20.Selt, M, Bartlett, C.A., Harvey, A.R., Dunlop, S.A. and Fitzgerald, M. (2010) Restoration of Visual Function after Partial Optic Nerve Injury; a Time Course Study Using the Calcium Channel Blocker Lomerizine. Brain Research Bulletin 81: 467-471. Number of citations: 9
21.Arnall, S., Cheam, L.Y., Smart, C., Rengel, A., Fitzgerald, M., Thivierge, J-P., Rodger, J. (2010) Behavioural Brain Research 209: 109-113
22.Fitzgerald M, Bartlett C.A., Payne S.C., Hart N., Rodger J, Harvey A.R. and Dunlop S.A. (2010) Near Infra-red Light Reduces Oxidative Stress and Preserves Function in CNS Tissue Vulnerable to Secondary Degeneration Following Partial Optic Nerve Transection J Neurotrauma 27: 2107-2119 Number of citations: 26
23.Ho D., Fitzgerald M., Bartlett C.A., Zdyrko B., Luzinov I.A., Dunlop S.A*, and Iyer K.S * (2011) The Effects of Concentration-Dependent Morphology of Self-assembling RADA16 Nanoscaffolds on Mixed Retinal Cultures Nanoscale 3: 907-910. Number of citations: 2
24.Payne S.C., Bartlett C.A., Harvey A.R., Dunlop S.A. and Fitzgerald M. (2011) Chronic swelling and abnormal myelination during secondary degeneration of the optic nerve. J Neurotrauma 28: 1077-88 Number of citations: 12
25.Clemons T, Evans C, Zydrko, B, Luzinov I, Fitzgerald M, Dunlop S, Harvey A, Iyer K.S, Stubbs K. (2011) Multifunctional nanoadditives for the thermodynamic and kinetic stabilization of enzymes Nanoscale 3: 4085-4087
26.Evans CW, Fitzgerald M, Clemons TD, House MJ, Padman BS, Shaw JA, Saunders M, Harvey AR, Zdyrko B, Luzinov IA, Silva GA, Dunlop SA and Iyer KS. (2011) Multimodal analysis of PEI-mediated endocytosis of nanoparticles in neural cells. ACS Nano 5(11): 8640-8648, Number of citations: 33
27.Wells J, Kilburn M.R., Shaw J.A., Bartlett C.A., Harvey A.R., Dunlop, S.A. and Fitzgerald M. (2012) Early in vivo changes in calcium ions, oxidative stress markers and ion channel immunoreactivity following partial injury to a central nervous system tract.
J Neuroscience Research 90: 606-618
28.Harrison J, Bartlett CA, Cowin G, Nicholls PK, Evans CW, Clemons TD, Zdyrko B, Luzinov IA, Harvey AR, Iyer KS, Dunlop SA and Fitzgerald M. (2012) In vivo imaging and biodistribution of multimodal polymeric nanoparticles delivered to the central nervous system. Small 8(10): 1579-89, IF=8.349. Number of citations: 20
29.Evans. C.W., Latter, M.J., Ho, D., Clemons, T.D., Fitzgerald, M, Dunlop, S.A, and Iyer, K.S. (2012) Multimodal and Multifunctional Stealth Block Copolymer Nanospheres for Sustained Drug Delivery. New Journal of Chemistry 36: 1457-62
30.Martin, A.D. , Houlihan, E., Morellini, N., Eggers, P.K, James, E., Stubbs, K.A. , Harvey, A.R., Fitzgerald, M, Raston, C.L., Dunlop, S.A. (2012) Synthesis and Toxicology of p-Phosphonic acid calixarenes and O-Alkylated Analogues as Potential Calixarene-based Phospholipids. ChemPlusChem 77(4): 256-8
31.Eggers, P.K, Becker, T., Melvin, M.K, Boulos, R., James, E., Morellini, N., Harvey, A.R, Dunlop, S.A, Fitzgerald, M, Stubbs, K.A and Raston, C.L. (2012) Composite fluorescent vesicles based on ionic and cationic amphiphilic calix[4]arenes RSC Advances 2: 6250-57
32.Evans, C.W., Viola, H., Ho, D., Hool, L., Dunlop, S.A., Fitzgerald, M., Iyer, K.S. (2012) Nanoparticle-mediated internalisation and release of a calcium channel blocker. RSC Advances 2: 8587-90
33.Dev, S., Toster, J., Prasanna, V., Fitzgerald, M., Iyer, K.S., Raston, C. Suppressing Regrowth of microfluidic generated drug nanocrystals using polyelectrolyte coatings (2013) RSC Advances 3: 695-698.
34.Payne S.C, Bartlett, C.A, Harvey, A.R, Dunlop, S.A, and Fitzgerald, M. (2012) Myelin sheath decompaction, axon swelling and functional loss during chronic secondary degeneration in rat optic nerve Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science 138(5): 865-70
35.Payne, S.C., Harvey, A.R., Dunlop, S.A and Fitzgerald, M (2013) Early proliferation does not prevent chronic depletion of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells during secondary degeneration of a CNS white matter tract PLoS ONE 8(6): 1-10 e65710
36.Clemons, T.D, Fitzgerald, M., Dunlop, S.A., Harvey, A.R., Swaminathan Iyer, K, and Stubbs. K.A. (2013) An improved methodology for the spectrophotometric determination of chondroitinase ABC activity New Journal of Chemistry 37, 1944-1949
37.*Szymanski, C*., Chiha, C*., Morellini, N*., Cummins, N., Bartlett, C.A., Savigni, D.L., Payne, S.C., Harvey, A.R., Dunlop, S.A., Fitzgerald, M. (2013) Treating secondary degeneration with 670 nm light: reduced oligodendrocyte reactive oxygen species and paranode lengthening, with preservation of visual function PLoS ONE 8(6) e66448
38.James, E., Eggers, P.K., Harvey, A.R., Dunlop, S.A., Fitzgerald, M., Stubbs, K.A., and Raston, C.L. (2013) Antioxidant phospholipid calix[4]arene mimics as micellular delivery systems Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry 11, 6108-6112
39.*Savigni, D.L.*, O’Hare Doig, R.L.*, Szymanski, C.R., Bartlett, C.A., Lozić, I., Smith, N.M., Fitzgerald, M. (2013) Three Ca2+ channel inhibitors in combination reduce chronic secondary degeneration following neurotrauma Neuropharmacology, 75: 380-390 IF=5.1
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.07.034
40.Cummins, N., Bartlett, C.A., Archer, M., Bartlett, E., Hemmi, J.M., Harvey, A.R., Dunlop, S.A., Fitzgerald, M. (2013) 670nm irradiation limits changes to mitochondrial ultrastructure in optic nerve vulnerable to secondary degeneration in vivo BMC Neuroscience, 14:98. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2202-14-98
41.Challenor, M., Gong, P., Lorenser, D., Fitzgerald, M., Dunlop, S. A., Sampson, D.D., Iyer, K.S. Iron Oxide-Induced Thermal Effects on Solid State Upconversion Emission in NaYF4:Yb3+,Er3+ Nanocrystals (2013) ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 5(16):7875-80
42.Lozić, I., Bartlett, C.A., Shaw, J.A., Swaminathan Iyer, K., Dunlop, S.A., Kilburn, M.R. and Fitzgerald, M. Direct quantification of Ca microdomain dynamics in specific cell types of white matter vulnerable to secondary degeneration, using NanoSIMS (2014) Metallomics 6(3): 455-64
43. Fitzgerald, M. Strategies to limit dysmyelination during secondary degeneration following neurotrauma (2014) Neural Regeneration Research 9: 1-4
44.O’Hare Doig, R.L., Bartlett, C.A., Maghzal, G.J., Lam, M., Archer, M., Stocker, R., Fitzgerald, M. Reactive species and oxidative stress in optic nerve vulnerable to secondary degeneration (2014) Exp Neurol 261: 136-146
45.Giacci, M.K., Wheeler, L., Lovett, S., Dishington, E., Majda, B., Bartlett, C.A., Thornton, E., Harford-Wright, E., Leonard, A., Vink, R., Harvey, A.R., Provis, J., Dunlop, S.A., * Hart, N.S., * Hodgetts, S., * Natoli, R., * Van Den Heuvel, C., Fitzgerald, M. Differential effects of 670 and 830nm red near infrared irradiation therapy: a comparative study of optic nerve injury, retinal degeneration, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury (2014) PLOS ONE 9(8): 1-15 e104565
46.Challenor, M., Gong, P., Lorenser, D., House, M.J., Woodward, R.C., St. Pierre, T., Fitzgerald, M., Dunlop, S.A., Sampson, D.D., Swaminathan Iyer, K. The Influence of Size/Phase in Multimodality of Co-encapsulated Magnetic Photon-Upconverting Polymeric Nanoparticles (2014) Dalton Transactions 43: 16780-16787 IF 4.09
47.Stephens E.K., Tauran, Y. Coleman, A. and Fitzgerald M. Structural requirements for anti-oxidant activity of calix[n]arenes and their associated anti-bacterial activity (2015) Chem. Comm. 51: 851. IF=6.8
48.*Giacci, M.K., Hart, N.S., Hartz, R.V., Harvey, A.R., Hodgetts, S., Fitzgerald, M. Method for the assessment of effects of a range of wavelengths and intensities of red/near-infrared light therapy on oxidative stress in vitro (2015) JoVE March 21 Issue 97; doi: 10.3791/52221
49.Challenor, M., O’Hare Doig, R., Fuller, P., Giacci, M., Bartlett, C.A., Hool, L. Dunlop, S.A., Iyer, K.S., Rodger, J. and Fitzgerald, M. Prolonged glutamate excitotoxicity increases GluR1 protein but decreases mRNA of GluR1 and associated regulatory proteins in dissociated rat retinae in vitro. (2015) Biochimie 112: 160-171
50.Meloni, B.P., Milani, D., Edwards, A., Anderton, R., O’Hare Doig, R.L., Fitzgerald, M., and Knuckey, N.W. Neuroprotective peptides fused to arginine-rich cell penetrating peptides: Neuroprotective mechanism likely mediated by peptide endocytic properties (2015) Pharmacology and Therapeutics 153: 36-54
51.Lozić, I., Hartz, R.V, Bartlett, C.A., Shaw, J.A., Archer, M, Naidu, P.S.R., Smith, N.M., Dunlop, S.A., Swaminathan Iyer, K., Kilburn, M.R. and Fitzgerald, M. Enabling Dual Targeting of Polymeric Nanoparticles to Macrophages and Astrocytes for Treatment of Neurotrauma. (2016) Biomaterials 75: 58-70
52. Lozić, I., Hartz, R.V, Bartlett, C.A., Shaw, J.A., Archer, M, Naidu, P.S.R., Smith, N.M., Dunlop, S.A., Swaminathan Iyer, K., Kilburn, M.R. and Fitzgerald, M. Characterisation of Polymeric Nanoparticles for Treatment of Partial Injury to the Central Nervous System. (2016) Data in Brief
53.Smith, N.M., Gachulincova1, I., Ho, D., Bailey, C., Bartlett, C.A., Norret, M., Murphy, M., Buckley, A., Rigby, P.J., House, M.J., St. Pierre, T., Fitzgerald, M., Iyer, K.S.* & Dunlop, S.A. An Unexpected Transient Breakdown of the Blood Brain Barrier Triggers Passage of Large Intravenous Nanoparticles Sci. Rep. 6, 22595; doi: 10.1038/srep22595
54.Ashworth, B.E., Stephens, E., Bartlett, C.A., Serghiou, S., Giacci, M.K., Williams, A., Hart, N.S., Fitzgerald, M. Comparative assessment of phototherapy protocols for reduction of oxidative stress in partially transected spinal cord slices undergoing secondary degeneration (2016) BMC Neuroscience 17, 21
55.Smith, N.M., Ho, D., House, M.J., Dunlop, S.A., Fitzgerald, M. and Iyer, K.S. Poly(glycidyl methacrylate) Coated Dual Mode Upconverting Nanoparticles For Neuronal Cell Imaging (2016) New J Chem. 40 6692-6696
56.Clemons, T., Challenor, M., Fitzgerald, M., Dunlop, S.A., Smith, N. and Iyer, K.S. Balancing surface charges and stealth behavior of nanoparticles using mixed polymer brushes (2016) ACS Macro Lett. 5: 1132−1136
57.Krishnan, V.S., White, Z., McMahon, C.D., Hodgetts, S.I., Fitzgerald, M., Shavlakadze, T., Harvey, A.R. and Grounds, M.D. A neurogenic perspective of sarcopenia: time course study of sciatic nerves from aging mice (2016) J. Neuropath & Experimental Neurol. In Press, accepted April 2016
58.Hart, N.S. and Fitzgerald, M A new perspective on delivery of red-near-infrared light therapy for disorders of the brain (2016) Discovery Medicine. In Press, accepted May 2016
59.Halstrom, A., MacDonald, E., Neil, C., Arendts, G., Fatovich, D. and Fitzgerald, M. Elevation of Oxidative Stress Indicators in Plasma Following Traumatic Brain Injury. J Clin Neurosci. In Press, accepted September 2016
60.O’Hare Doig, R.L., Bartlett, C.A., Smith, N.M., Hodgetts, S.I., Dunlop, S.A., Hool, L. and Fitzgerald, M. Specific combinations of Ca2+ channel inhibitors reduce excessive Ca2+ influx and increase neuronal and glial cell viability Neuroscience. In Press
61.Yates, N.J., Giacci, M.K., O’Hare Doig, R.L., Chiha, W., Ashworth, B.E., Kenna, J., Bartlett, C.A. and Fitzgerald, M. The effects of delaying treatment of secondary degeneration using a combination of Ca2+ channel inhibitors: possible confounding effects of seromas. Neural Regeneration Research. In Press

62.O’Hare Doig, R.L and Fitzgerald, M. Novel combinations of ion channel inhibitors for treatment of neurotrauma (2015) Discovery Medicine 19(102): 41-47
63.Fitzgerald, M., Hodgetts, S., Van Den Heuvel, C., Natoli, R., Hart, N.S., Valter, K., Harvey, A.R., Vink, B., Provis, J., and Dunlop, S.A. (2013) Red/near-infrared irradiation therapy for treatment of central nervous system injuries and disorders Reviews in the Neurosciences 24(2): p205-26
64.Fitzgerald, M. The complex contribution of the astrocyte scar (2016) Neural Regeneration Research. 11(7): 1052–1053
65.Fehily, B. and Fitzgerald, M. (2016) Cell Transplantation. Invited review In Press, accepted July 2016

Book Chapter
66.Eells, J.T., Gopalakrishnan, S., Salzman, M., Valter, K., Provis, J., Natoli, R., Mitrofanis, J., Stone, J. and Fitzgerald, M. Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) for the Treatment of Injury and Disease in the Visual System (2016) In Press: Handbook of Low Level Laser Therapy Eds - Hamblin, M.R., Agrawal, T. and de Sousa, M. Publisher - Pan Stanford Publishing, Singapore.

Roles, responsibilities and expertise
In her 13 post-doctoral years A/Prof Fitzgerald has published 66 papers (45 in the last 5 FTE years), of which she is first author on 16 and last author on 27. Many of her recent papers have been published in influential, international journals, including ACS Nano (exceptional, IF=10.5), Small (IF=7.8, multi-disciplinary), IOVS (premier Ophthalmology journal), Neuropharmacology, J Neurotrauma (highly influential). The quality and impact of A/Prof Fitzgerald’s research and her growing leadership in the field is evidenced by numerous invitations to speak at local, national (10) and international (15) conferences from 2010-2015/6, including keynote and Symposium presentations. She is a Handling Editor for the Journal of Neurochemistry, the Australian representative for the Asia Pacific Regional Committee for IBRO, serves on the international scientific committees for BIOMATSEN2016 and ICNT2016, is an Editorial Board Member for Neural Regeneration Research, Frontiers Journals and an Associate editor for PeerJ. Currently Held Grants/Projects total $2 million; she is CIA for all of these; total funding awarded for her career is $6.5 million, $3.9 million as CIA. A/Prof Fitzgerald currently holds an NMHRC Career Development Fellowship, two CIA Project Grants and was sole CI on an NHMRC ECR Project grant. A patent entitled ‘Multifunctional Nanoparticles’ reached international PCT stage and was developed by a biotechnology company. In the past 5 years A/Prof Fitzgerald has supervised 20 Honours students or equivalent, 10 PhD students (5 completions), 6 post-doctoral researchers and gives regular guest lectures.

A/Prof Fitzgerald’s commitment to discipline is evidenced by her roles as Chairperson and Convener of the annual Symposium of Western Australian Neuroscience (SWAN), and the UWA neuroscience seminar series. She is Co-Chair of her departmental Research Committee, a member of the UWA Faculty of Science Planning Task Force addressing Grantsmanship, Mentoring and Expectations, and is spearheading a drive to disseminate collated information regarding all seminars in science and health in Perth. A/Prof Fitzgerald reviews for numerous scientific journals including EJN, IOVS, Neurochem. Int., international funding bodies including fight for Sight UK, MS Australia and the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation and serves on NHMRC and MS Australia Grant Review Panels. In addition, A/Prof Fitzgerald has been selected to participate in Homeward Bound, an international leadership and strategy program for women scientists, run as an expedition to Antarctica, designed to increase the proportion of women in the higher levels of science. As a consequence A/Prof Fitzgerald has instituted a UWA Faculty of Science gender equity group and coordinates the UWA Faculty of Science mentoring program for PhD students and early career researchers, currently being expanded across Institutional boundaries. She is a member of the Perkins Institute EMCR Mentoring Committee and regularly speaks at institutional, scientific and community events regarding gender equity in science.
Future research
Using her model of secondary degeneration A/Prof Fitzgerald has demonstrated that combinations of calcium channel inhibitors prevent the loosening of myelin lamellae and decompaction that occurs as a consequence of secondary degeneration. Furthermore, combinatorial therapy prevented lengthening of the node of Ranvier and preserved function. She is working towards optimisation of this clinically relevant strategy. A/Prof Fitzgerald is also part of a highly productive collaboration to generate nanotechnologies for delivery of calcium channel blockers and anti-oxidants to limit secondary degeneration following partial injury to the CNS (Centre for Strategic Nanofabrication, UWA).
The goal of the research team is to develop a suite of prognostic indicators to predict post concussion syndrome following mild traumatic brain injury, and in so doing identify a cohort of patients suitable for treatment using the therapeutic strategies the team has developed.
Funding received
Currently held Grants/ Projects
2016, Iyer, Fitzgerald, Choi, Smith, Evans, Thordarson, Martin, Franz, Davies. UWA Research Collaboration Awards, $28,000
2016, Fitzgerald. MS Research Australia, $21,000
2016, Fitzgerald, Fatovich, Pestell. Neurotrauma Research Program, $38,926
2016, Smith, Hurley, Fitzgerald and Dunlop. Neurotrauma Research Program, $72,780
2015-2018, Fitzgerald NHMRC Career Development Fellowship $455,452
2015-2018, Fitzgerald, Dunlop, Iyer, Smith NHMRC $861,300
2014-2016, Fitzgerald, Dunlop, Hool, Hodgetts, Kilburn, NHMRC $657,000
2012-2014, Dunlop, Fitzgerald, Iyer, Hool NHMRC, $409,790
2014Fitzgerald, Neurotrauma Research Program $65,106
2014Fitzgerald, Neurotrauma Research Program $84,887
2014Fitzgerald, Hart, Neurotrauma Research Program $83,402
2014Meloni, Knuckey, Fitzgerald, Neurotrauma Research Program, $96,400
2011-2013, Fitzgerald Neurotrauma Research Program Fellowship, $327,000
2011-2012, Fitzgerald Neurotrauma Research Program, $198.506
2011-2012, Fitzgerald, Dunlop, Harvey Neurotrauma Research Program, $189,536
2011-2012, Dunlop, Fitzgerald, Rodger, Salt Neurotrauma Research Program, $274,384

Previously Held Grants/Projects
2009-2011: Fitzgerald. NH&MRC Project Grant
2007-2010: Dunlop, Fitzgerald. Neurotrauma Research Program, $266,000
2010: NHMRC Equipment, $30,000
2009: FNAS pump priming grant, $10,000
2008:NHMRC Equipment, $86,000
2008: LE0989788 $108,481
2007:NHMRC Equipment, $75,490
2007/2008: Fitzgerald. Beneficiary Woodside Sustainability Award, $15,000
2007: Fitzgerald. UWA Small Grants, $18,000
2006: Rodger, Fitzgerald. Phoenix Eagle Pty. Ltd., $145,701
2006-2007: Rodger, Fitzgerald. Advanced Ocular Systems, $483,000

Industrial relevance
Secondary Degeneration laboratory
Associate Professor Melinda Fitzgerald
Experimental and Regenerative Neurosciences, School of Animal Biology,
The University of Western Australia
Following injury to the central nervous system, functional loss is exacerbated by spreading damage causing secondary degeneration of surrounding tissue. Using a model of secondary degeneration where the optic nerve is partially transected, Dr Fitzgerald and her team have demonstrated changes in calcium distributions, oxidative stress and myelin abnormalities in nerve vulnerable to spreading damage. These biochemical and structural changes were associated with loss of visual function. Therapeutic strategies designed to reduce oxidative stress and dysmyelination, including combination of calcium channel inhibitors and red/ near-infrared irradiation therapy, prevent the functional loss of secondary degeneration in this model (1-5).
Core capabilities
Our key area of expertise is our animal model of secondary degeneration, allowing spatial separation of the primary injury from the area of nerve vulnerable to spreading damage. The model features excellent reproducibility, allowing functional outcomes to be assessed with high chances of statistically significant results.
Outcome measures include neuroprotection, assessments of multiple cell populations including inflammatory cell infiltration, oxidative stress, myelin structure (electron microscopy), and behavioural assessments of visual function.
•The model is relevant for assessments of efficacy of pharmaceuticals, alternative medicine or medical devices designed to prevent secondary degeneration following neurotrauma.
•The model is also relevant for assessment of therapeutic strategies for normotensive glaucoma and traumatic optic neuropathy.
Additional capabilities and techniques in routine use
Electron microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, immunohistochemistry including extensive image analysis capability, nanoscale secondary ion mass spectroscopy, animal surgery, cell culture including organotypic spinal cord and brain slice cultures, cell fate mapping, enzyme assays, histochemical assessments.
Assessment of multiple indicators of oxidative stress in cultured cells and in animal tissue, including: reactive species, antioxidant enzymes (manganese superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, heme oxygenase), indicators of oxidative damage to DNA lipids and proteins within specific cell types. We also conduct assessment of changes in calcium concentrations in cultured cells.
Our Recent Key Publications
1.Lozic, I, et al., Metallomics, 2014. 6(3): p. 455-64.
2.Savigni, DL, et al., Neuropharmacology, 2013. 75C: p. 380-390.
3.Payne, SC, et al., PLoS One, 2013. 8(6): p. e65710.
4.Szymanski, CR, et al., PLoS One, 2013. 8(6): p. e66448.
5.Payne, SC, et al., Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 2012. 53(10): p. 6093-101.

Australian Neuroscience Society
Western Australian Neuroscience Society
Australian Society of Medical Research
Australia New Zealand Spinal Cord Injury Network
Honours and awards
2016 Selected to participate in Homeward Bound, a leadership and strategy program for women scientists
2015 NHMRC Career Development Fellowship
2014 International Neurotrauma Society Travel Award
2012 Nominated Excellence in Honours Supervision Award, Faculty of Science, UWA
2010 Subsidised Access to Small Animal 16.4T MR Scanner, University of Queensland
2008 Supplementary Travel Grant for New Academic Staff
2007 Telethon Research Institute for Child Health Research Award, ASMR Symposium
Previous positions
Dec. 1995 - Dec. 1997. Centre for Thrombosis and Vascular Research,University of New South Wales, Randwick, NSW (Research Officer).
May 1994 – Oct. 1995. Centre for Research in Vascular Biology, QLD, St. Lucia, QLD.
March 1993 - April 1994. Cellular Biochemistry Laboratory, Baker Medical Research Institute, Commercial Road, Prahran, VIC (Research Officer).
Dr Fitzgerald is co-inventor on a patent entitled ‘Multifunctional Nanoparticles’ which has been taken to the international PCT stage and was developed by Eridan Pty Ltd.
Postgraduate supervision of PhD and Honours students: 5 completions, 4 current students
Useful links
Current projects
Together with her team, Dr Fitzgerald is currently exploring the mechanisms by which secondary degeneration spreads as well as potential therapeutic strategies for treatment, including remyelination therapies, near infra red light and nanotechnologies for targeted delivery.
She has recently commenced a clinical trial aiming to identify predictors of poor outcome following concussion and has identified novel indicators of damage in more severe traumatic brain injury and models of concussion.
Research profile
Research profile and publications

The University of Western Australia

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM