From life science to neuroscience

A wide-ranging career in life sciences has created the perfect backdrop for Dr Kunal Dhiman and his research into the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. 

Dr Dhiman has more than 10 years of experience in the multidisciplinary areas of life sciences research. For the past six years, four of which were dedicated to his PhD, Dr Dhiman has researched dementia science. 

Prior to that he worked as a pharmacovigilance scientist, involved in adverse drug reaction reporting to Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in post marketing surveillance and clinical trials.  

He also has experience as a research associate in pharmaceutical research and development. 

Dr Dhiman currently juggles two research positions. One as a Research Fellow in Aboriginal Health for Deakin University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, which is in collaboration with Western Health. In this position, he works on projects aimed at improving the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and addressing the gaps. 

At Deakin University’s School of Medicine, he is an Associate Research Fellow working in the Clinical Neurobiology group. 

“My research focuses on the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia, involving exploration of diagnostic biomarkers with a primary focus on preclinical AD, as well as investigating the therapeutic potential of novel phytochemicals for the treatment of AD,” he says. 

What has driven you to research in this area?  

I am passionate about helping elderly people. I have had the opportunity to volunteer for organisations that work towards improving the lives of elderly people.  

I also had the opportunity to meet people living with dementia. The need for early diagnosis and the need to address the associated stigmas has motivated me to do research in this area. 

Tell us about some of your career highlights  

I was awarded the HDR scholarship from Edith Cowan University to pursue PhD at the at the Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care, Edith Cowan University.  

After completing PhD in 2020, I joined Deakin University as an Associate Research Fellow (Neurobiology). Through my research I have identified potential biomarkers for prediction, early diagnosis, and progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). 

My study involving evaluation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) neurofilament (NfL) as a potential biomarker of AD and its establishment as a predictive, diagnostic and prognostic biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has encouraged collaborative research to explore the role of this biomarker in differentiating neurodegenerative disorders form psychiatric disorders.  

I was awarded two travel grants – one from Australasian Neuroscience Society and another from Edith Cowan University and have given invited talks at several conferences as a keynote speaker. 

What is your next research focus?  

A paucity of knowledge on neurovegetative mechanisms poses and impediment to develop easy diagnostics for dementia.  

It essential to decipher and leverage novel mechanisms of neurodegeneration, to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, I am to develop a strategy for early diagnosis of dementia by leveraging novel mechanisms of neurodegeneration.