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Personal profile


Dr. Ian Harding is the Head of the Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration Research Group in the Dept of Neuroscience and Monash Biomedical Imaging.

Our research group uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to investigate and track brain changes in people with neurodegenerative diseases. This work principally focusses on individuals with inherited subcortical diseases, including Friedreich ataxia, Spinocerebellar ataxias, and Huntington’s disease. Additional work in other neurodegenerative disorders and in preclinical animal models is also being undertaken with our collaborators.

The broad aims of our research include biological phenotyping, such as describing changes in brain structure and function, and mechanistic inferences, including cellular/molecular-level measurements of inflammation, oxidative stress, and metabolic dysfunction. Our studies seek to provide more comprehensive disease descriptions and to identify measures relevant to track disease progression or treatment efficacy.

We are currently accepting new PhD students.


Programs and Projects

  • Mechanistic Neuroimaging

Our flagship research program uses hybrid MR/PET technology, investigational PET radiotracers, and blood markers to investigate pathological processes and sub-cellular measures of disease expression and progression. The techniques we employ are sensitive to neuroinflammation, oxidative stress/ferroptosis, iron homeostasis, vascular health, and systems-level brain structure and function.

Within this program, we are currently recruiting people with Friedreich ataxia and Spinocerebellar Ataxia Types 1, 2, 3, and 6.


  • ENIGMA-Ataxia - A Global MRI Collaboration for Rare Cerebellar Diseases

Our group coordinates the ENIGMA-Ataxia international working group (

Inherited ataxias are rare diseases, leading to most published literature relying on small sample sizes with limited statistical power, reliability, and generalisability. ENIGMA-Ataxia was founded to harmonise and aggregate the analysis of existing MRI data in these diseases from around the world in order to pool our collective resources and overcome many of these limitations.

The working group currently consists of 19 data sites and 3 methods groups from Australia, North and South America, and Western Europe. Analysis of brain morphometry, white mater integrity, and spinal cord structure are currently underway.


  • Cerebellar Function & Connectivity

The human cerebellum is known to contribute to a broad range of motor, cognitive, and affective behaviours. However, the role of the cerebellum in nonmotor functions, in particular, is not yet well understood.

Using functional MRI data and cognitive testing, our group investigates the function and large-scale connectivity of the cerebellum in healthy populations and individuals with cerebellar diseases.


  • STAREE Neuroimaging Substudy

The “STAtins in Reducing Events in the Elderly (STAREE)” clinical trial is a large-scale study of the health impacts of statins in 10 000+ heathy individuals over the age of 70 years (

Our team are leading the STAREE Neuroimaging substudy of 200 of these individuals, using a suite of MRI measures of brain morphometry, white matter integrity, and vascular health.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research area keywords

  • Brain networks
  • Friedreich Ataxia
  • cognitive control
  • cognitive neuroscience
  • functional neuroimaging techniques


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