Emeritus Professor Neil Sims

Academic Status

College of Medicine and Public Health

+61 8 82044260
place Flinders Medical Centre (6D:218)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia
Neil Sims trained in biochemistry at the University of Melbourne.  His PhD studies examined a protein in myelin and triggered a deep interest in nervous  system function and the effects of brain disease.  He developed his current research interests during ten years overseas, initially as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Neurology in London and then as an assistant professor at Cornell University Medical College in New York.  He came to Flinders as a lecturer in 1987 and is currently Head of the Discipline of Medical Biochemistry.  His research has examined cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying brain disease, focusing initially on Alzheimer's disease and then on stroke.  Specific interests include modifications to mitochondrial function and energy metabolism that contribute to these disorders and the role of support cells, particularly astrocytes.  He teaches biochemistry and neuroscience in several courses.
B.Sc.(Hons.) University of Melbourne, 1973
Ph.D. University of Melbourne, 1973
Key responsibilities
Head of Discipline of Medical Biochemistry
Chair, Health Sciences Library Committee
Strategic Leader, Flinders University ERA submissions
Coordinator of topics in MD and B.Med.Sci degrees
Research expertise
Biochemistry and cell biology
Research interests
Current research focuses on the responses of cells in brain tissue surrounding focal areas of damage that are typically generated by a stroke.  Nerve cells in these tissue regions show adaptive changes which apparently contribute to spontaneous improvements in neurological function that are commonly seen during the first few months following a stroke.  Researchers in the Sims group are investigating changes in the two major populations of support cells, the astrocytes and microglia, and testing whether modifying these changes can increase adaptation in the nerve cells and further promote recovery of neurological function.

These studies involve the use of animal models of stroke as well as a newly-developed model of focal injury in brain cells grown in culture.  Techniques routinely used include subcellular fractionation, immunohistochemistry, fluorescence microscopy, Western blots and analyses of enzyme activities and metabolites.  The research group is also investigating and developing techniques for selectively manipulating the expression of individual proteins in astrocytes or microglia in the brain in vivo.
Teaching interests

Neil Sims has major roles in the teaching, coordination and curriculum development in the initial block of the Graduate Entry Medical Program and the neuroscience topics for the Bachelor of Medical Science and other courses. 

In the medical course, Neil Sims has been centrally involved in teaching that (i) promotes an understanding of the essentials of biochemistry, and particularly metabolic biochemistry, and their relevance to medicine; (ii) assists students with limited backgrounds in biomedical science to understand key concepts in cellular biology and biochemistry that underpin many aspects of their subsequent studies.  These goals have been met through involvement in the design and delivery of PBL cases, lectures, interactive workshops and a biochemistry elective.  

His neuroscience teaching aims to develop an understanding of the cellular and molecular basis of nervous system function that can serve as a basis for understanding complex behaviours and the causes and consequences of disease.   

Topic coordinator
MMED2933 Fundamental Neuroscience
Topic lecturer
MMED3931 Advanced Neuroscience
MMED2933 Fundamental Neuroscience
Supervisory interests
Molecular basis of brain diseases
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Neuroscience (1)
Principal supervisor: Neuroscience (3), Neuroscience (Goteborg University) (1)
Associate supervisor: Neuroscience (6)
Expert for media contact
Brain biochemistry
Available for contact via
+61 8 82044260
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Biochemistry
  • Brain
  • Metabolism
  • Neuroscience
  • Stroke
  • Brain biochemistry

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