Dr Lin Kooi Ong

Dr Lin Kooi Ong
Research Program:
Project Grant
2018 Project Grant
Equipment Grant
2017 Equipment Grant
Project Grant
2016 Project Grant
Project Grant
2015 Project Grant
Project Grant
2013 Project Grant

What are your research interests?

  • Stroke recovery: Understanding of molecular and cellular mechanisms in brain repair and secondary neurodegeneration following stroke. Identifying new treatment targets and therapies for stroke.
  • Neurodegeneration: Understanding how environmental factors such as immune activation and chronic stress cause the loss of neurons and serious neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Stress biology: Understanding the negative impact of chronic stress. Development and implementation of reliable clinical assessments of chronic stress.

Why did you get into research?

The brain works in a fascinating way and I also want to make a significant difference to people’s lives. I have family members and friends who suffer from stroke and neurodegenerative disorders, so investigating how the brain works and how to fix the brain when it fails is a rewarding career with personal significance.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

There is currently no effective treatment for chronic diseases such as stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. My vision is to find a novel, safe treatment that could promote brain recovery and prevent the progression of stroke-induced deficits and neurodegenerative diseases. 


Dr Lin Kooi Ong is an early-career neuroscientist and medical biochemist. He is a Research Fellow within the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation and the University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre in Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury.

His current research has focused on:

  • The mechanism of neurodegeneration following stroke,
  • The negative impact of chronic stress for brain recovery and
  • The development of novel interventions for brain plasticity and neural repair.

Work from his PhD and first post-doctoral fellow has substantially expanded on the neurobiology of stress and the role of environmental factors on brain development, along with the long-term consequences of inflammation on neurodegeneration. 

Dr Ong graduated in 2012 with a PhD in Medical Biochemistry from University of Newcastle. He then undertook postdoctoral training to elucidate how immune activation can lead to Parkinson’s disease (funded by HMRI to Associate Professor Phillip Dickson, Emeritus Professor Peter Dunkley). In 2015, he joined the Stroke Recovery, Biomedical Imaging and Stress Biology research group co-directed by Professor Michael Nilsson and Associate Professor Rohan Walker.

Dr Ong has published 18 peer reviewed articles, 1 book chapter and 26 conference abstracts since completing PhD in 2012. His H-index is currently 8 and his work has been cited > 170 times. Significantly, seven of his articles were accepted in 2016. Dr Ong has also been the recipient of a number of awards from national and international organisations.

In 2015/16, he received research funding from HMRI and John Hunter Hospital Charitable Trust to investigate the negative impact of chronic stress in stroke recovery. He also received full-funded RHD scholarship and Equipment Grant from Research Advantage to support his research studies and professional development. Since 2010, he has received eight travel grants, including a highly competitive award from the International Brain Research Organisation. 

Dr Ong regularly presents his work internationally and nationally. He is invited as reviewer for internationally peer-reviewed journals (Journal of Neurochemistry; International Journal of Stroke, Brain, Behaviour and Immunity; Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology; Neurochemistry International; Journal of Neuroinflammation) and has established several very successful collaborations with colleagues at the national and international. 

Dr Ong is elected as the Deputy Newcastle Convenor of the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) 2015/16 and Early Career Researcher Representative for the School of Biomedical Science and Pharmacy Research Committee.

Since 2009, Dr Ong has over 300 hours of teaching experience in tutorials, practical classes and laboratory demonstrations for Medicine, Biomedical Science, Nutrition and Dietetic, Physiotherapy, Nursing and Occupational Therapy students.

Specialised/Technical Skills

Dr Ong is specialised in neuroscience and medical biochemistry. His technical skills include:

  • preclinical animal modellings
  • cell culture
  • processing human clinical samples
  • the generation of recombinant proteins and polyclonal antibodies
  • immunoprecipitation
  • Western blotting
  • enzyme activity and protein functional assays
  • HPLC
  • immunohistochemistry
  • biomedical science imaging


HMRI Brain and Mental Health Research Program

University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre for Stroke and Brain Injury

University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research (CBMHR)

School of Biomedical Sciences Research Committee - Early Career Researcher representative

NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation

Australasian Neuroscience Society

Australian Society for Medical Research 

The International Society for Neurochemistry


Growth hormone to promote brain recovery after stroke
Project Grant

The 470,000 Australians living with stroke are at high risk of developing cognitive deficits and vascular dementia. There are currently no generally accepted therapeutic interventions for improving cognition post-stroke.



Assessment for Stroke Recovery
Equipment Grant

Stroke patients often find it difficult to do basic thinking, recall memories and solve life’s daily problem. The Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) is a touchscreen based assessment to objectively measure cognitive function.



Development and implementation of improved monitoring of psychological stress loads in patients recovering from stroke
Project Grant

Conjoint Associate Profosser Michael Pollack, Professor Michael Nilsson, Associate Professor Rohan Walker, Dr Lin Kooi Ong


Patients recovering from stroke often report high and unremitting levels of psychological stress. Clinically, the presence of stress throughout the recovery process is highly significant, as stress hormones, most notably cortisol, are known to impair multiple aspects of brain repair including cortical remodelling, angiogenesis, and neurogenesis.



Blocking the negative effects of stress on the brain to promote better healing of the brain after stroke
Project Grant

Associate Professor Frederick Rohan Walker, Dr Lin Ong, Dr Ming Yang, Associate Professor Sarah Johnson


It has recently been recognised that many stroke patients can experience what is known as ‘chronic phase decline” associated with gradual, but very significant, declines in both motor and cognitive function.



Role of infection in the development of Parkinson's Disease
Project Grant

Associate Professor Phillip Dickson, Emeritus Professor Peter Dunkley, Lin Kooi Ong


Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, with 6.3 million people diagnosed worldwide; 80,000 of these are Australian. This means that around one out of every 350 Australians suffers from this life changing debilitating disease. Parkinson’s disease appears more frequently in males than females. The majority of Parkinson’s disease cases are idiopathic- of unknown cause.   Parkinson’s disease is characterised by degeneration in the dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (a structure in the midbrain).  The dopaminergic neurons are nerve cells that make and contain a neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Oxidative stress and neuroinflammation are thought to be involved in degeneration of the dopaminergic neurons.