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Dr Mark Hackett

  • Vascular and metabolic disorders
  • Neurodegenerative disorders

Mark is an analytical chemist whose contribution to his field of research both nationally and internationally earned him the prestigious 2018 Paul Haddad Medal. The award recognised Mark’s development of new imaging techniques that have enabled neuroscientists to gain valuable, new insights into how the brain works, including chemical pathways that may be linked to brain disease. Using Mark’s new imaging protocols, neuroscientists can study specific molecules or metal ions in the brain that were previously difficult or impossible to image.

With his research combining spectroscopy, microscopy and neuroscience, Mark is no stranger to the Australian Synchrotron (AS) facility, where he studies the role of trace metals within the brain using X-ray fluorescence microscopy. Specifically, his research group develops imaging protocols that use synchrotron light to reveal the distribution and chemical form of iron, copper and zinc within individual brain cells (“metallomics”), and how they relate to biochemical markers of inflammation, metabolism, and cellular redox. He hopes better understanding metallomics during natural ageing and following brain injury may unlock opportunities to develop new and improved treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia.

Mark currently chairs the X-ray fluorescence microscopy program advisory committee at the AS and sits on multiple advisory panels to guide the next phase of technique development at the facility. He’s also an international scientific advisor to the Canadian Synchrotron Light Source. At CHIRI he’s involved in collaborative projects on the role of iron in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chemical pathways that contribute to meat spoilage, and the role of bacteria in metal ion metabolism.

Research interests – development and optimisation of novel elemental and bio-molecular imaging techniques, including X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM), X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and Raman spectroscopy; applying analytical expertise to a broad range of research areas, including neuroscience, synchrotron science, environmental science, agricultural science, food science and forensic sciences.

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