Adelaide Medical School
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.
Dr Amy Reichelt is an emerging independent research leader at the intersection of neuroscience and nutrition, who is passionate about uncovering the neural mechanisms that underpin how diet impacts brain health and mental wellbeing across the lifespan, with a particular focus on the adolescent brain.
After completing her PhD in Neuroscience at Cardiff University UK, which investigated the cognitive impact of dementia neuropathologies on executive function using transgenic models of frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease, Amy went on to undertake postdoctoral research in how food memories can be updated in the brain, through the process of memory reconsolidation. This research led her to become intrigued by how diet itself impacts behaviour and cognition. Amy secured a prestigious ARC DECRA fellowship at UNSW Sydney where she led a program of research dedicated to understanding how obesogenic high fat and high sugar diets disrupted the refinement of the adolescent brain and altered fundamental learning and memory processes. This work was extended during her lectureship at RMIT University, pinpointing adolescence as a period of vulnerability to the negative consequences of obesogenic diets, and further funding in the form of an ARC Discovery Project to investigate the neuronal populations implicated in diet-induced cognitive decline, and the transgenerational impacts of obesity.
In 2018, Amy relocated to Western University, Canada as a Canada First Research Excellence Fund "BrainsCAN" Senior Fellow, where she worked with global leaders in developing highly translational cognitive tests for rodents which can be combined with cutting-edge neurotechnologies (i.e. Fiber-photometry and optogenetics). Furthermore, she extended her research into the neurobiological impact of diet to its effects on non-neuronal factors - primarily the brain's extracellular matrix - as a critical controller of both neuroplasticity and neuroprotection.
Amy has recently returned back to Australia as a Senior Lecturer and Research Group Leader within Adelaide Medical School, with funding from an NHMRC Investigator Grant and the Neurosurgical Research Foundation. Here she will lead research into the fundamental role of the extracellular matrix in obesity-induced cognitive decline, neurodegenerative diseases, neurodevelopmental processes and neurotrauma.
In recognition of her research excellence and commitment to the clear communication of science to the public, Amy has received an NSW Tall Poppy Award and RMIT Media Star award. She has written over 25 articles for The Conversation and has been interviewed in the media as a neuroscience expert by The New York Times, ABC radio, CBC radio, The Project, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, and SBS radio to name but a few. She has been featured on the ABC RN podcasts "All in the mind" and "Brain Matters". Her most career-defining moment to date was the presentation of a talk "This is your brain on sugar" at TEDxSydney.
My primary research goal is to define the cognitive and functional impacts of obesity and nutrition on the brain. This research program has immediate relevance to a growing public health issue in Australia, where nearly a third of all children, and two-thirds of all adults, are overweight or obese. I use a multidimensional approach involving cutting-edge behavioural and neuropharmacology paradigms – including transgenic mice (Cre-lox, KI and KO models), in vivo fiber-photometry (e.g. GCaMP signaling and use of biosensors), chemogenetics, and optogenetics to study cognition and the functional effects of simulated ‘junk food’ diets in rodents; combined with molecular and chemical profiling of the post mortem rodent brain. This framework spans from individual gene expression, neurochemical alterations of neurons and their surrounding extracellular components (perineuronal nets), to long-lasting effects on neurodevelopment to provide a comprehensive picture of the neurobiological impact of obesity from the micro- to macro-scale.
I have built a strong reputation as an emerging thought leader in neuroscience and nutrition fields, demonstrated through numerous grants, awards, and speaking invitations.
Date Position Institution name 2020 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide 2018 - 2020 BrainsCAN Research Fellow Western University 2016 - 2018 Lecturer Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University 2013 - 2016 Senior Research Associate UNSW Australia 2011 - 2013 Research Fellow University of Birmingham
Awards and Achievements
Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount 2015 Award NSW Young Tall Poppy AIPS Australia —
Date Institution name Country Title 2011 Cardiff University United Kingdom PhD 2006 University of Birmingham United Kingdom BSc (Honours) 1st Class
Year Citation 2015 Reichelt, A. C., & Dachtler, J. (2015). The role of neurexins and neuroligins in autism. In The Molecular Basis of Autism (pp. 361-381). Springer New York.
2021 – 2025 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant - Emerging Leader - Harnessing the extracellular matrix to fight obesity-induced cognitive impairment - $650K AUD
2020 – 2021 Neurosurgical Research Foundation (NSF) (CIA) - The role of diet in mediating the effect on cognitive impairment and cortical perineuronal net alterations following traumatic brain injury - $30K AUD. CIB Dr Frances Corrigan, CIC A/Prof Lyndsey Collins-Praino
2018 – 2020 BrainsCAN Tier 1 Fellowship - $225K CAD
2018 – 2021 Australian Research Council Discovery Project (Primary CI) - Functional impact of high energy diets on memory encoding. CI Prof Anthony Hannan (Florey Department, University of Melbourne) - $428K AUD
2018 – 2021 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant (CIE) - Novel pharmacological strategies to treat cognitive dysfunction in COPD. CIA Prof Ross Vlahos - $872K AUD
2018 RMIT Transitional Research Grants for Teaching and Research Staff (CIB) - Early gastrointestinal microbiota determinants of child behaviour at age 2. CIA Dr Amy Loughman $10K AUD
2016 RMIT Strategic Equipment and Infrastructure Grant (Lead Investigator) - Touchscreen suite and digital stereotaxic equipment. $76K AUD
2015 UNSW Science Early Career Grant (Sole CI) - Impact of sucrose bingeing in adolescent rats on brain reward system connectivity. $7.3K AUD
2014 – 2017 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (Sole CI) - Does obesity alter psychological associations to food related cues, contexts and responses? $375K AUD
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