A/Prof. Paul Tooney
|Work Phone||(02) 4921 8691|
|Fax||(02) 492 17903|
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
The University of Newcastle, Australia
|Office||MS614, Medical Sciences|
Dr. Tooney has a keen interest in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of diseases, so that better diagnoses and treatment strategies can be developed. Dr. Tooneys research background during his PhD and postdoctoral work was in cancer biology where he gained experience in cellular and molecular biology techniques. As a post-doctoral scientist at the University of Wisconsin (1995-1998), Dr. Tooney investigated the biology of the extracellular matrix protein thrombospondin and published for the first time the expression of thrombospondin-2 in the developing mouse embryo.
In March 1998, with a growing interest in mental illness and a desire to develop his knowledge and skills in neuroscience, Dr. Tooney took the opportunity to focus on the neurobiology of schizophrenia and joined the Neuroscience Institute of Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders (NISAD). As a NISAD Research Officer (1998-2000), Dr. Tooney investigated the density of GABAergic interneurons in the prefrontal cortex but observed no significant changes in schizophrenia (PT4). He also investigated the expression of tachykinin receptors (putative targets for new treatments in mental illness) in schizophrenia and described the localisation of the NK1 receptors in the human prefrontal cortex for the first time. Dr. Tooney observed a significant increase in the density of NK1 receptor-like immunoreactivity in the prefrontal cortex in schizophrenia (PT5). In a follow-up guinea-pig study of the effects of antipsychotic drugs on the NK1 receptor, Dr. Tooney demonstrated that this increase was likely to be due to drug treatment effects (PT3). Dr. Tooney gave oral presentations of this work at 4 National (2 as invited speaker ASBP, APPS) and one International conference (ICOSR; invited to give an oral presentation).
As a NISAD Senior Research officer (2000-2004), Dr. Tooney established a collaboration with Prof. Rodney Scott, Prof. Pat Michie, A/Prof. Ullrich Schall and Dr. Pablo Moscato from the University of Newcastle to study the genetics of schizophrenia, with the aim of using genetics, endophenotypes and neuroimaging measures to further the understanding of schizophrenia, develop a biological means for diagnosing the disorder and identify new targets for drug discovery. Dr. Tooney wrote grant applications that attracted funding to establish microarray technology and then conduct a pilot project investigating gene expression in schizophrenia from NISAD ($15,000; 2002) and the Hunter Medical Research Institutes (HMRI) Adamstown Lions Club Young Investigator Award ($21,000; 2001-03) and the HMRI Clinical Neuroscience Program ($110,000 2001-03). This project identified changes in the expression of brain-related genes in peripheral blood lymphocytes in schizophrenia (PT1). Dr. Tooney and his collaborators coupled gene expression profiling with demographic, clinical and neurobiological measures, and showed that this approach has the ability to identify subtypes of schizophrenia (PT1).
In 2002 Dr. Tooney established a program of research to investigate gene expression changes in post-mortem brains in schizophrenia to further the understanding of the molecular changes in schizophrenia, which is essential for the identification of new drug targets. Studies in the amygdala from schizophrenia subjects identified novel changes in genes involved in the cytomatrix active zone of the synapse, which controls vesicle release (PT8). Studies in the superior temporal gyrus have identified changes in the expression of three genes identified in the peripheral blood lymphocyte study described above and two important schizophrenia candidate genes, RGS4 and COMT.
From 2003 to present, Dr. Tooney played a major role in establishing and managing the Hunter DNA Bank for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders. He is an associate investigator and integral member of the national consortium lead by Prof. Vaughan Carr that was awarded an NHMRC enabling grant ($1.75 million; 2006-2010) for t
- PhD, University of Newcastle, 1995
- Bachelor of Science (Honours), University of Newcastle, 1990
Dr. Tooney has a keen interest in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of diseases, so that better diagnoses and treatment strategies can be developed. His research background during his PhD and postdoctoral work was in cancer biology where he gained experience in cellular/molecular biology techniques. He spent 3 years as a post-doctoral scientist at the University of Wisconsin (1995-1998) investigating the extracellular matrix protein thrombospondin-2. In March 1998, Dr. Tooney took the opportunity to return to Australia and focus on the neurobiology of schizophrenia and joined the Neuroscience Institute of Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders (NISAD). As a NISAD Research Officer (1998-2000), Dr. Tooney investigated GABAergic interneurons and the expression of tachykinin receptors in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in schizophrenia. He described the localisation of the NK1 receptors in the human PFC for the first time, observing a significant increase in NK1 receptor-like immunoreactivity in the PFC in schizophrenia. In a follow-up guinea-pig study, Dr. Tooney demonstrated that this increase was likely to be due to antipsychotic drug treatment effects. As a NISAD Senior Research Officer (2000-2004), Dr. Tooney established a collaboration with Prof. Rodney Scott, Prof. Pat Michie, A/Prof. Ullrich Schall and Dr. Pablo Moscato from the University of Newcastle to study the genetics of schizophrenia, with the aim of using genetics, endophenotypes and neuroimaging measures to further the understanding of schizophrenia, develop a biological means for diagnosing the disorder and identify new targets for drug discovery. Using microarray technology, this project identified changes in the expression of brain-related genes in peripheral blood lymphocytes in schizophrenia and showed that this approach has the ability to identify subtypes of schizophrenia. In 2002 Dr. Tooney applied this technology to post-mortem brains identifying novel changes in many genes in schizophrenia. Dr. Tooney recruited Dr. Murray Cairns to his laboratory to investigate why these gene expression changes occur in schizophrenia using functional genomic approaches. This research has identified miRNAs that are dysregulated in schizophrenia. From 2003 to present, Dr. Tooney played a major role in establishing and managing the Hunter DNA Bank for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders and the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank (ASRB, a national consortium lead by Prof. Vaughan Carr that was awarded an NHMRC enabling grant ($1.75 million; 2006-2010). Dr. Tooney was appointed Lecturer in Pharmacology in the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Newcastle in July 2004 and continues to focus on the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying schizophrenia to develop better diagnosis and treatment strategies. Since switching from full-time research and becoming an independent academic in July 2004, Dr. Tooney has published 6 peer-reviewed papers, submitted three further manuscripts for consideration and is a chief investigator on successful external funding applications totalling over $0.5 million. During this time, Dr Tooney co-supervised three honours students (all received Honours Class I) and two PhD students to successful completion. Dr. Tooney currently co-supervises four PhD and one Honours student.
My primary research interests are in the udnerstanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease so that better diagnoses and treatment strategies can be developed. Since Feb 1998 I developed a growing interest in mental illness and focused on the neurobiology of schizophrenia encompassing projects investigating changes in the cortex to neurons and their gene expression, right down to the genetics of the disorder. Dr. Tooney played a role in establishing the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank (ASRB) and the Neurobehavioural Genetics Unit that has the aim of conducting large-scale genetic analyses on blood samples from individuals with schizophrenia. Dr. Tooney applies a range of state of the art molecular technologies to RNA and DNA extracted from human brain tissue and peripheral tissues to help understand what causes schizophrenia, develop biological means to diagnose and/or identify who is at-risk of developing the disorder and how the genome impacts on treatment of the disorder.
Fields of Research
|060199||Biochemistry And Cell Biology Not Elsewhere Classified||40|
Centres and Groups
- PRC - Priority Research Centre for Translational Neuroscience and Mental Health (CTNMH)
- Hunter Medical Research Institute
- PRC - Priority Research Centre for Bioinformatics, Biomarker Discovery and Information-Based Medicine
Body relevant to professional practice.
- General Member - Australian Neuroscience Society
- Affiliated Scientist - Schizophrenia Research Institute
Australian Postgraduate Research Award
University of Newcastle (Australia)
Tachykinin NK1 receptor immunoreactivity is increased in the prefrontal cortex in schizophrenia
International Congress On Schizophrenia Research, Canada (Invited to give oral preseantation)
Dr. Tooney was a member of the Faculty of Health Research Grants Committee that ranked research applications submitted in 2004 for the Research Grants Committees Small Grant Scheme. Dr. Tooney is a member of the Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) Advisory Committee (2005 present) where he represents the School of Biomedical Sciences on this committee to oversee the Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) Program. The primary concern of this committee since late 2005 was the accreditation of the Program with the NSW Nursing and Midwives Board (NMB). The MNB awarded accreditation of the program for the maximum possible time of 4 years. Dr. Tooney is a member of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC; Dec 2005 - present) representing the School of Biomedical Sciences. The IBC oversees all aspects of biosafety for the University, reviews biosafety applications by researchers and provide recommendations on approval of their research projects, inspects laboratories to provide feedback on biosafety requirements. Particularly I was involved in dientifyiing a deficiency in the availability of PC2 level facilities in the Medical Sciences building (MSB). As a consequence, funding to upgrade the facilities has been allocated in 2007. Dr. Tooney is also a member of the Master of Pharmacy Accreditation and Program Review Committee (2006 present). In early 2006, Dr. Rohan Rasiah (Convenor of the Master of Pharmacy Program) asked him to assist with preparing the documentation for preliminary approval and provisional accreditation of the Program by the New Zealand and Australian Pharmacy Schools Accreditation Committee (NAPSAC). Documentation from the coordinators of the science-based courses within the Program was then collected and collated to assist Dr. Rasiah with the integration of this information with that from the Pharmacy based courses into the accreditation application. Dr. Tooney also reviewed the entire application and made comments and recommendations, as well as assisting with the adaptation of these documents into an interactive CD. NAPSAC sent an evaluation team for a site visit in May 11-12, 2006. Dr. Tooney met with the team, gave presentations and answered questions regarding the molecular- and pharmacology-based courses within the Program. NAPSAC granted preliminary and provisional accreditation to the Master of Pharmacy Program. Dr. Tooney was also a member of the School of Biomedical Sciences Working Party for the NISAD Chair in Schizophrenia Research Chair application (2005). NISAD called for expressions of interest from NSW Universities to host the Inaugural NISAD Chair in Schizophrenia Research worth $1 million/year. Due to strong collaborations with NISAD, Prof. Mike Calford (then Head of School of Biomedical Sciences; PVC Research) asked Dr. Tooney to attend a meeting of senior academics in the School of Biomedical Sciences regarding the bid to host the Chair at the University of Newcastle. Dr. Tooney gave advice on what type of research NISAD was expecting the Chair to be involved with and also provided information and comments on the initial application. The Newcastle bid was one of two applications short-listed for interview, but was not successful.
Dr. Tooney has expertise in teaching basic cell biology and pharmacology. Dr. Tooney developed pharmacology content for the new Bachelor of Nursing program, assisted with the re-development of Pharmacology content for the Master of Pharmacy program, Assisted with the re-develolopment of the Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences program by developing and delivering a course in Human Pharmacology for the first time, coordinated 4 Pharmacology courses in three different degree Programs (Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, Master of Pharmacy, Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner), supervised/supervisor of 6 PhD students (2 completed, supervisor of 4 honours students (3 received first class honours). Dr. Tooney has delivered pharmacology content into 6 Degree programs serviced by the Faculty of Health at teh university of Newcastle.
- Cell Biology
- Bachelor of Biomedical Science
- Master of Pharmacy
- Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner)
- Bachelor of Medicine
- Bachelor of Nursing
- HUBS3205 - Human Pharmacology
- HUBS1403 - Biomedical Science Part 1
- HUBS6202 - Pharmacotherapeutics for Advanced Nursing Practice
- PHAR6124 - Applied Pharmacology and Basic Microbiology/Immunology
- PHAR6212 - Pharmacotherapeutics 2
- PHAR6222 - Pharmacotherapeutics 3
- PHAR6233 - Pharmacotherapeutics 6
- PHAR6213 - Molecular Pathogenesis
- MEDI2012 - Medical Science 2
- MEDI2014 - Medical Science 3
- NURS2194 - Gastrointestinal Nursing Therapeutics
- NURS2296 - Cardiovascular /Respiratory Nursing Therapeutics
- NURS3197 - Emergency Nursing Therapeutics
- NURS2163 - Complementary Therapies