Julien Bensalem

Julien Bensalem

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Dr Julien Bensalem is a post-doctoral researcher in the Lysosomal Health in Ageing group, Hopwood Centre for Neurobiology, Lifelong Health Theme, at SAHMRI and an affiliate senior lecturer with the Adelaide Medical School at the University of Adelaide.

Dr Julien Bensalem completed his PhD specialised in Nutrition in 2014 at the University of Bordeaux, France, studying the effect of polyphenols on the age-related cognitive decline.

Following his PhD, he worked as research project manager in a French company developing new nutritional plant extracts for different health applications, while pursuing his research on nutrition and cognition as a postdoc in the Laboratory of Nutrition and Integrative Neuroscience in Bordeaux, France.

Dr Bensalem joined the Lysosomal Health in Ageing, Hopwood Centre for Neurobiology at SAHMRI, Australia, in 2018 as a post-doctoral researcher under Dr Tim Sargeant supervision. In his current role he investigates how nutrition can be used to tackle dementia by improving autophagy, and how autophagy is involved in other age-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for 60-70% of the 50 million cases of dementia around the world. Although billions of dollars have been spent on developing therapies, there is still no treatment available.

Alzheimer’s disease leads to the progressive formation and spread of abnormal and toxic material in the brain, which impairs its function and causes dementia. Our group has found that autophagy, our cell's "self-cleaning" system, can destroy this toxic material and that we can up-regulate autophagy in preclinical models using drugs or restricting certain nutrients in the diet.

As part of my research, I have developed the first blood test to measure autophagic activity in humans. This is an important step forward to translate our preclinical knowledge about autophagy to the clinic. I am currently studying how autophagy responds to nutritional interventions in humans and how autophagy behaves in relation to age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. I also use laboratory models to determine how autophagy changes in the brain in response to nutrition and age- and obesity-related damage.

My overarching research aim is to develop new treatment strategies that protect autophagy cleaning ability in the brain of people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

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