Bernard Balleine received his BA with first class honours and the University Medal from the University of Sydney in 1988 and his PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK in 1992. He was elected to a Research Fellowship at Jesus College Cambridge in 1992 and appointed to a professorial position at UCLA in 1995. He was elected a Fellow of the American Psychological Association in 2004 and, in 2005, was appointed Director of Research in the Brain Research Institute at UCLA. He was made an Australian Laureate Fellow in 2009 and moved to the University of Sydney in that year. In 2015 he was made a Senior Principal Research Fellow of the NHMRC. In 2016 he moved his laboratory to UNSW Sydney and was appointed Scientia (Distinguished) Professor. In 2020 he was made an NHMRC Senior Investigator and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW and, in 2021, of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.
Raffaella Tonini leads the Neuromodulation of Cortical and Subcortical Circuits Lab, at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Italy. During her PhD at University of Milano, Italy, and post-doctoral experience at the University College London, UK, she trained as cellular neurophysiologist to investigate the contribution of synaptic plasticity mechanisms in the experience-dependent alterations of neuronal circuits. As principal investigator, her research goal is to understand how the brain learns to cope with an ever-changing environment and to choose between different behavioral options. Within this context, her research team focuses on the role of neuromodulatory substances in shaping micro- and macro circuit interactions to ultimately report selective perceptual and motivational information over multiple timescales.
Simon Fisher completed his PhD with John Reynolds at Otago, where he used in vivo electrophysiology to demonstrate how a physiologically-relevant form of plasticity can support learning. Simon then joined Bernard Balleine at UNSW where he described a critical pathway that is plastic during learning novel actions; and then with Chris Dayas at Newcastle where he developed skills in in vivo calcium imaging of behaving animals. Now at the Florey Institute with Jess Nithianantharajah, Simon is investigating the impact of genetic mutations associated with neurodevelopmental disorders on learning and value assessments.
Dr Miriam Matamales obtained her PhD in Neuroscience from the University Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris) under the direction of Jean-Antoine Girault. She was awarded the EMBO Long-Term Fellowship to join the laboratory of Jürgen Götz at the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland where she studied age-related disorders of the basal ganglia circuitry. She then moved to the University of New South Wales where she leads the Neuromodulatory Systems and Behaviour team within the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory directed by Bernard Balleine. Her research combines innovative high-throughput fluorescence microscopy and sophisticated behavioural procedures to understand how the functional architecture of the striatum encodes goal-directed learning and how its dysfunction impairs normal behaviour.
Dr Nathalie Dehorter obtained a PhD in Neuroscience in 2011 and was awarded the highly selective EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) fellowship in 2011 to pursue her research as a Research Associate at the CSIC Alicante, Spain and the MRC, King’s College of London, UK. In 2017, she took up a position as group leader at the Eccles Institute of Neuroscience, The John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University. The goal of her research is to gain insight into the developmental processes involved in establishing neural networks and their functional impairments in various neurological disorders.
Professor Andrews is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and is internationally recognised for his work on the neuroendocrine control of energy homeostasis and behaviour. He is currently the deputy editor-in-chief for Endocrinology, the flagship journal for The Endocrine Society, an international society ran from the USA. He is also the current president of Hypothalamic Neuroscience and Neuroendocrinology Australasia (HNNA), a council member on the International Neuroendocrine Federation, the Secretary of the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society and a co-founding member of the Addictive and Compulsive Eating Research Organisation. Professor Andrews uses preclinical animal models and viral genetic techniques to study how the brain responds to hunger to control food intake and associated behaviours. This includes the role of homeostatic and hedonic systems, and how they interact to influence both the need and the desire to eat. His lab is particularly interested in why and how the brain promotes the overconsumption of highly palatable energy dense foods and how this contributes to obesity. His group uses modern neuroscience techniques such as in vivo calcium imaging, optogenetics and chemogenetics to probe the physiological and behavioural function of hunger-sensing neural circuits. He focuses on the hormone ghrelin as a key hormonal signal of hunger and AgRP neurons as key hunger-sensing neurons and how these hunger-sensing systems control food intake and related behaviours such as reward, motivation, mood, memory and cognition.
My research uses multiple experimental approaches to reveal key features about neural circuits that regulate internal state are also purposed to control behavior and store information in response to challenges. Specifically, my lab uses in vitro slice electrophysiology, in vivo imaging, optogenetics, behavioral analysis tools and physiological assays to characterize neural circuits that decode stress, modify internal states and generate specific coping behaviors. One of my goals is to better understand the mechanisms that allow these circuits, or specific cell populations, to store information related to the modality, intensity and temporal features of stress. My graduate work in Professor Alastair Ferguson’s lab focused on the neural regulation of cardiovascular output and established a key role for nitric oxide as a retrograde transmitter at GABA synapses. I performed in vivo electrophysiology to interrogate long-range hypothalamic-spinal cord connections and whole-cell recordings in brain slices to examine retrograde signals and dendritic excitability. As a Human Frontiers Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Kevin Staley, I performed electrophysiology experiments to establish bi-directional links between synaptic strength and circuit output in the hippocampus.
In addition to my extensive experience in synaptic physiology and electrophysiology I have used circuit mapping approaches to link activity in specific cell populations to different behaviors. My work has linked brief stress exposure and enduring synaptic changes in the hypothalamus (reviewed in Bains et al, Nat Rev Nsci, 2015). We have provided clear evidence supporting a role for astrocytes in controlling the strength of excitatory synapses in the hypothalamus (Gordon et al, Nat Nsci, 2005, Neuron, 2009). More recently, we have shown new roles for hypothalamic CRH neurons as bottom-up controllers for complex behaviors associated with stress coping (Fuzesi et al, Nat Comm, 2016), the transmission and detection of affective states between mice (Sterley et al, Nat Nsci, 2018) and linking stress controllability and active behaviour strategies (Daviu et al, Nat Nsci, 2020).
Dr Leigh Walker is an early career researcher at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Leigh completed her undergraduate and Hons at Victoria University of Wellington and PhD in neuroscience at the University of Melbourne. Her current research examines the neurocircuitry and neurobiology underpinning anxiety and alcohol use disorders, with a focus on sex differences.
Roberta is an early career researcher at the University of Melbourne/The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. She research combines behavioural neuroscience with techniques such as DREADDs and fibre photometry to investigate the neural circuits underlying stress-induced overeating in mice.
Kay Double is Professor of Neuroscience at the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney. She holds a PhD in neuroscience and the postdoctoral degree of the Habilitation (Germany) in neurochemistry, which recognises excellence in both research and tertiary teaching. Her academic position allows her to combine her interests in neuroscience research and teaching. Prof Double teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate students and is active in teaching team leadership, strategic development of neuroscience teaching and teaching research. In 2018 her work supporting her academic colleagues was recognised by the University of Sydney’s inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Mentoring and Leadership.
Gabrielle Todd leads the Neurophysiology of Human Movement Group at the University of South Australia as well as two large multidisciplinary teams of researchers that are investigating early diagnosis and motor signs in Parkinson’s disease and the long-lasting effects of methamphetamine on movement. Gaby has a passion for science that extends beyond her immediate research interests. She has volunteered for numerous roles that aid in the promotion of science to school children and the wider community and gives regular media interviews. Gaby has two national teaching citations for her work in demystifying neuroscience for undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as in the design and implementation of innovative resources to deliver a digitally-enhanced health science curriculum to improve student engagement.
Jack Wang completed a dual degree in Science and Information Technology in 2006 and went on to a PhD at the Institute of Molecular Bioscience, UQ, to study the interface between molecular bioscience and microbiology. Jack has applied his research background towards Microbiology teaching, and his educational research revolves around interactive inquiry-driven learning, as well as measuring the impact of blending online and face-to-face learning activities in large undergraduate courses. His work has been recognized by the Australian Council of Deans for Science and national teaching awards, and in 2020 he was awarded the Australian Society for Microbiology David White Teaching Excellence award, the Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT) Award for Teaching Excellence (Biological and Health Sciences) and was named the 2020 AAUT Australian University Teacher of the Year. Jack’s most recent work on teaching and science communication is featured on his YouTube channel Biolab Collective.
Lila Landowski holds a teaching focussed position in the Tasmanian School of Medicine, at the University of Tasmania. She maintains an active interest in research across multiple fields of research since then including axon guidance, therapeutic development for nerve injury, stroke and fatigue. Lila has a strong personal focus on the importance of science communication, public outreach, and community health and well-being. With this in mind, she regularly speaks on the local radio, is the inaugural patron of National Science Week for Elizabeth College, and has been named one of Chief Scientist of Australia’s “science superheroes,” an ambassador for public education in Tasmania. In recognition of her efforts, Lila has been awarded a Vice Chancellors citation for community engagement. Lila currently has a bioscience and neuroscience teaching role where she inspires the next generation of medical and nursing students.
Bianca de Wit is a senior lecturer and course director of the Bachelor of Cognitive and Brain Sciences at Macquarie University. Bianca is passionate about transforming traditional educational and research settings with the use of technology. She has pioneered the integration of neurogaming technology into undergraduate cognitive neuroscience teaching, which has been both nationally and internationally recognised with a Macquarie University Dean Citation and invitations by the University of Washington in St Louis and the University of Exeter to replicate her cutting-edge cognitive neuroscience teaching labs. In this Neuroscience Teaching symposium, she will highlight her work as lead designer, developer and teacher of the teaching labs that use commercial neuroscientific technology to introduce students to the research methods of electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potentials (ERPs) and promote active and research-oriented learning in tutorials, with a discussion of student feedback, common challenges, and the potential for future online learning.
John Furness leads the Digestive Physiology and Nutrition Laboratory at University of Melbourne and Florey Institute. He is best known for his work in unravelling the intrinsic circuits of the enteric nervous system, for the chemical coding hypothesis, and the discovery of sensory neurons intrinsic to the digestive tract. The current emphases of his work are on stem cell therapies for Hirschsprung disease and for restoration of function after spinal cord injury; development of drug therapies for colorectal dysfunction; investigation of the complexities of co-storage of gut endocrine hormones. Honours include: Fellow Academy of Science; Fellow Academy of Science of Bologna; Centenary Medal; Fellow Academy of Health and Medical Science; Davenport Medal, American Physiological Society; Honorary life member, Physiological Society.
Dr Kelsi Dodds began her research career examining contractions of the uterus throughout the reproductive cycle. Igniting a passion for research into female reproductive organ health and disease, she then undertook a PhD at the University of Adelaide exploring the role of spinal glial cells in the development of endometriosis and pelvic pain. Now an early career Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute, Flinders University, Kelsi heads uterine physiology research in Prof Nick Spencer’s laboratory, primarily examining the anatomy and function of sensory nerves innervating the uterus. Her experiments utilise a range of cutting-edge research tools, including genetically engineered mice, optogenetics, and novel surgical techniques developed in-house. Current projects have interests in determining how pain information is transmitted from the uterus to the central nervous system, and how sensory nerves contribute to uterine motility patterns that underlie reproduction.
Dr Stewart Ramsay (formerly Stewart Christie) is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute, Flinders University. Stewart completed his PhD at the University of Adelaide with a focus on the role of endocannabinoids in the dual modulation of gastric vagal sensory nerves. His current research at Flinders focuses on the role of endocannabinoids and circadian rhythms in bladder sensory neurons and how they may be modulated to help bladder disorders. Stewart is particularly interested in the role of TRP channels in both aspects, becoming an emerging expert in the field. Outside of research, Stewart is actively involved in promoting the neurosciences and regularly supervises research students.
Dr Kumar’s lab studies the cellular and physiological mechanisms used by autonomic systems. Autonomic reflexes require signalling from the brain, and their function is continually regulated by genetic and environmental factors. Pathological regulation can form the basis for disease (respiratory disorders, hypertension, diabetes). Research questions include: how do homeostatic systems – which are vital for survival – adapt to changing environmental conditions? What are the consequences for neuronal excitability, physiological processes, and drug action? What are the mechanisms by which our respiratory system adapts to changes in blood pH? Currently, her lab members investigate the brain circuits involved in central chemoreception, and the potential for drugs that activate pH sensing neurons to help those afflicted by respiratory disorders, such as sleep apnea, COPD, apnea of prematurity. This research is of broader significance because most organisms utilise pH/CO2 detection for survival, however the sensory mechanisms are not clear.
After completing a BSc and MSc in the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne, A/Prof Jobling completed his PhD in Physiology at the University of Queensland before securing postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh and Flinders University. In 2004 he accepted a research and teaching position at the University of Newcastle within the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy. His research centres on the autonomic control of pelvic viscera and innervation of solid tumours. His research involves experimental subjects ranging from people to other mammals, amphibia, teleosts and aves.
Janet holds the Chair of Anatomy and Neuroscience at the University of Melbourne, and with Peregrine Osborne, leads a team focused on multi-scale mapping of neural and vascular networks within organs. Janet is recognised internationally in the area of autonomic neuroscience, especially the neural regulation of urogenital organs. Her intersecting interest in the neurobiology of pain has focused on visceral pain and spinal cord injury pain, specifically investigating the plasticity of sensory and spinal neurons. Janet’s current research is supported by two major NIH consortia: (i) the SPARC (Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions) Program, to map the neural circuitry of the rat and human lower urinary tract, supporting the development of new neuromodulation therapies; and (ii) the GUDMAP consortium, to map the development and maturation of vasculature and its nerve supply in the mouse lower urinary tract, supporting the development of new hypotheses to probe mechanisms of neuro-urological conditions.
Dr Michelle Rank is a StrokeCORE founding member and Senior Lecturer and in the Department of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Melbourne. Dr Rank is a passionate educator and innovative researcher across two specialities (neurophysiology and the scholarship of teaching and learning), with over a decade of award-winning leadership in the transformation of tertiary and postgraduate curricula. The focus of Dr Rank’s neurophysiology research program is the mechanisms of spontaneous and intervention mediated rehabilitation in pre-clinical models of spinal cord injury (SCI), adult cortical ischemic stroke, and neonatal ischemic stroke/cerebral palsy. Her research uses cutting-edge molecular (RNA-Seq, q-PCR), anatomical (immunohistochemical, histological), functional (whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology) and pharmacological (venom peptides) techniques.
Dr Kirsten Coupland is the Hunter Medical Research Institute Dalara Early Career Research Fellow and a Research Fellow at the University of Newcastle. Dr. Coupland has spent her career understanding the molecular underpinnings of neurological disease, with the ultimate goal of identifying novel therapeutic targets. After being awarded her PhD from the University of New South Wales in 2015 and a three-year postdoctoral position at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, she joined the Translational Stroke Team at the University of Newcastle in 2018 where her molecular expertise is helping to understand how altered cerebrospinal fluid composition and dynamics impact on stroke outcome. Her work has garnered international attention having been invited to speak at several conferences, resulting in several grants, and three awards. She is a founder and co-executive chair of StrokeCORE, an Australasian research body that provides a platform for collaboration and resource sharing among pre-clinical stroke research groups.
Dr Tara Walker studied Biotechnology as an undergraduate at the Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia), before carrying out her PhD in the field of Plant Biotechnology. In 2003 she made the transition to neuroscience, joining the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) and the group of Professor Perry Bartlett. Here she became interested in the field of adult hippocampal neurogenesis, particularly in its activity-dependent regulation. In 2010, she joined the group of Professor Gerd Kempermann at the Center for Regenerative Therapies in Dresden, Germany, where she was awarded a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship in 2011. In July 2018 she returned to QBI as a Research Fellow to lead a new research group, where she is currently investigating whether blocking ferroptotic cell death can rescue the behavioural and cognitive decline observed during physiological ageing and in animal models of stroke.
Dr Quynh Nhu Dinh is a postdoctoral researcher working in the Centre of Cardiovascular Biology and Disease Research at La Trobe University under the mentorship of Profs Thiruma Arumugam and Chris Sobey. She completed her PhD in 2017 in the Department of Pharmacology at Monash University, and her thesis examined the roles of inflammation, ageing and sex differences in hypertension. Dr Dinh specialises in using mouse models of hypertension and vascular dementia, and her current research focuses on understanding the pathophysiology of hypertension and vascular dementia, and also evaluates potential therapeutic interventions for vascular dementia. She has published in leading journals such as Cardiovascular Research and British Journal of Pharmacology (>700 citations). Currently, Dr Dinh is a co-program manager for the Annual Scientific Meeting of the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia.
Prof. Michael Tymianski is a neurosurgeon and Senior Scientist, a Professor in the Dept of Surgery at the University of Toronto, and a Canada Research Chair in Translational Stroke Research. His most advanced contribution is the development of PSD95 inhibitors, beginning with the discovery that PSD95, an abundant synaptic protein, is a therapeutic target for neurodegeneration. In 2012, Tymianski and his team published the first clinical trial supportive of neuroprotection by the PSD-95 inhibitor, nerinetide, in humans. His team completed the phase 3 ESCAPE-NA1 trial (NCT02930018) early this year and is currently conducting two further phase 3 trials of nerinetide, namely FRONTIER (NCT02315443) and ESCAPE-NEXT (NCT04462536), with the latter recruiting up to 1020 subjects globally.
Prof Christoph Hagemeyer is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Head of the NanoBiotechnology Laboratory at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (Monash University) and adjunct A/Prof of Nanotechnology at RMIT. He holds a PhD in Biochemistry (University of Freiburg, Germany). He made contributions to the field of Cytochrome P450 metabolism in the brain before moving on to developing anti-thrombotic fusion proteins and novel imaging probes. He has particular expertise in the use of small recombinant single-chain antibodies for molecular imaging and drug delivery. His current research is the development of "bio-better" antibodies with added functionality using the novel Sortase Bio Click technology developed in his laboratory.
Dr Kyna Conn is a postdoctoral researcher in the Anorexia and Feeding Disorders Group at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. She completed her PhD at the Queensland Brain Institute in 2021 under the supervision of Dr James Kesby and A/Prof Thomas Burne, in which she focused on subcortical dopamine function and decision-making deficits in schizophrenia. To this end, she used virally-mediated neural circuit modulation and pharmacological manipulations together with operant paradigms in mouse models, and was awarded the UQ Graduate Ready Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2021. Dr Conn joined the Foldi Group in 2022 to extend her understanding of monoamine function in corticostriatal circuits and the relationships between neurochemical signalling and cognitive behaviour in the context of anorexia nervosa. Her major research focus is on determining the influence of psilocybin on cognition, reward and pathological weight loss and how this may be mediated by regionally- and receptor-specific serotonin and dopamine function.
Devon Stoliker is a recent PhD graduate working at the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health in the School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University, Australia. After finishing his studies at the University of Guelph, Canada, he joined Monash University, where his research combines psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience approaches, to explore consciousness in the Razi lab. Devon's PhD focused on the neural mechanisms and psychology underlying serotonergic psychedelic experiences. Devon also designed and investigated the PsiConnect trial, which examines the influence of psilocybin on brain connectivity, mindset and setting using a meditation intervention. He is now working with PsiConnect data using dynamic causal modelling and research exploring the brain connectivity underlying subject-object attention and perception.
Dr Chris Letheby is a Lecturer in Philosophy at The University of Western Australia (UWA) who specializes in the philosophy of mind and cognition. His research to date has focused mainly on the use of classic psychedelic drugs in neuroscience and psychiatry. In several articles and a book, Letheby has argued that a traditional conception of psychedelics as agents of insight and spirituality can be reconciled with naturalism, the philosophical position that the natural world is all there is. His monograph Philosophy of Psychedelics was published in 2021 by Oxford University Press and is the subject of a recent symposium in the journal Philosophy and the Mind Sciences. The book has received two awards, both from The University of Adelaide (where Letheby worked while writing it): the Faculty of Arts Prize for Outstanding Research by an Early Career Researcher and the School of Humanities Early Career Prize for best publication in 2021.
Dr Adeel Razi is an Associate Professor at the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, in the School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University, Australia. He joined Monash, after finishing his postdoctoral studies (2012-2018) at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, UCL, UK. His research is cross-disciplinary, combining engineering, physics, and machine-learning approaches, to model complex, multi-scale, network dynamics of brain structure and function using neuroimaging. He is currently an NHMRC Investigator (Emerging Leadership, 2021-2025), CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar (2021-2023) in their Brain, Mind and Consciousness Program and was an ARC DECRA Fellow (2018-2021). He received the B.E. degree in Electrical Engineering (with a Gold Medal) from the N.E.D. University of Engineering & Technology in Pakistan, the M.Sc. degree in Communications Engineering from the University of Technology Aachen (RWTH), Germany, and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of New South Wales, Australia in 2012.
Ms Sarah-Catherine Rodan is a PhD student at the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics and InsideOut Institute for eating disorders at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Prof Iain McGregor and A/Prof Sarah Maguire. Her research focus is trialling novel pharmacotherapies, psilocybin and cannabidiol, as adjuncts to psychotherapy to improve treatment for anorexia nervosa at varying stages of illness progression. She is the lead investigator on the recently funded MRFF 2021 Innovative Therapies Grant for mental illness PANOREXIA trial, investigating psilocybin assisted psychotherapy for treatment-resistant anorexia nervosa in adults. A two-site, single-arm, single-blind study in collaboration with a partner Phase I/II clinical trial being led at Imperial College London. She is also the lead investigator on an open-label Phase I/II clinical trial for cannabidiol as an adjunct to Maudsley family-based treatment for children and adolescents with anorexia nervosa.
Dr Claire Foldi is a Group Leader at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute where she leads a program of research in the Department of Physiology focused on the neurobiological underpinnings of anorexia nervosa. Much of this work has centred on how activity and molecular signalling within specific neural circuits involved in reward processing and cognition contribute to the development of pathological weight loss in animal models. The Foldi Group is now investigating how psilocybin acts in the brain to modify cognitive behaviour in order to gain insight into its therapeutic potential for anorexia nervosa. Both streams of research are funded through NHMRC Ideas Grants awarded in 2021 and 2022. Dr Foldi also co-leads the Workforce Development stream of the newly-established National Centre for Eating Disorders Research and Translation, and is affiliated with the Monash Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies (M3CS) and the Monash Neuromedicines Discovery Centre (NDC).
Professor Harald Janovjak received doctorate degree biophysics from University of Technology Dresden. After post-doctoral research at the University of California Berkeley as an EMBL Long-Term Fellow and at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Harald joined the Institute of Science and Technology Austria near Vienna as an Assistant Professor in 2011. In 2018, Harald relocated to Australia as an EMBL Australia group leader and Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at Monash University. Since 2022, Harald is a Matthew Flinders Professor in Molecular Medical Bioengineering at Flinders University and the head of the Synthetic Physiology Laboratory. Harald also is a co-Chair of Optogenetics Australia and the Discipline Lead Biotechnology at Flinders University.
Dr Melo received her PhD in Physiology from the Federal University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) in 2017. During her PhD in Brazil, she was awarded a fellowship to study with Prof Andrew Allen at the University of Melbourne and learnt viral transduction, optogenetic and chemogenetic methods. In 2018 she re-located to the University of Melbourne for a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with Prof Andrew Allen and had developed new in vivo viral transduction and electromyography recording methods in the laboratory. She has published 14 original research articles, including publications in Cell Reports, 2020 (2nd author, J.I.F:8.109), eLife 2020 (J.I.F: 7.08) and Hypertension 2021 (shared first author, J.I.F: 10.19). She has also been granted independent research funding from the University of Melbourne and High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia.
Brett Graham is Associate Professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy and Chair of the Hunter Medical Research Institute Brain Neuromodulation Program. He completed his PhD in 2006 and after a short postdoctoral posting, established the Spinal Cord Connections Laboratory at the University of Newcastle (2008). His research focusses on deciphering neuronal heterogeneity and sensory processing circuits in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord with an emphasis on pathological pain mechanisms. His group combines several technically demanding and leading-edge approaches to address this topic, including in vivo patch clamp electrophysiology, optogenetics, intersectional viral transduction, calcium imaging, and behavioural analyses. This work has led to significant contributions on our understanding of the role played by presynaptic and postsynaptic inhibition, delineating sensory gating microcircuits, and defining interconnected excitatory networks formed by dorsal horn interneurons.
Rachael completed a BSc degree at the University of Melbourne, majoring in pathology and biochemistry. Her BSc(Hons) and PhD were undertaken at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in the Department of Cancer and Haematology, under the supervision of Prof Doug Hilton. In 2001, Rachael began working at the Bionics Institute (known then as the Bionic Ear Institute) in the areas of hearing therapeutics, gene therapy and cochlear implants. She remains at the Bionics Institute, now as an Associate Professor, Principal Research Fellow, and Deputy Head of Department of the Medical Bionics Department at the University of Melbourne. Her main goal is to develop innovative strategies to improve precision of neural stimulation, including optogenetic-based approaches for improving hearing, vision, and neurological conditions of the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Daisuke completed a B.E. in Osaka University (Biophysical Engineering), M.S. and PhD in The University of Tokyo (Multidisciplinary Sciences, focusing on the application of dynamical system theory on neural systems). In part funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, he did his postdoc at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, where he contributed to developing Genetically-Encoded Indicators and applied them to widefield optical imaging of mice under anesthesia, awake spontaneous locomotion and awake task-engaged conditions. Since 2019, he has been a research fellow at the Department of Physiology, Monash University. His research program focuses on how intrinsic brain activity interacts with external inputs for interpreting, responding to, and predicting the outside world.
Maureen Hagan is Group Leader and an ARC DECRA Fellow at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute in the Neuroscience group. She completed her doctoral work at the Centre for Neural Science at New York University in the laboratory of Bijan Pesaran studying the mechanisms of inter-area communication in the parietal cortex and her undergraduate work at the University of California Los Angeles. At Monash, her work has expanded on her doctoral work to understand information is communicated across areas of the cortex and how this information is used to guide cognitive behaviours like attention and decision-making.
Saba was awarded PhD from the University of Sydney in 2016. Since then, she has been a post-doctoral fellow conducting her research under the guidance Prof Greg Stuart and Prof Ehsan Arabzadeh at the Eccles Institute of Neuroscience, the Australian National University. She is an emerging expert in the field of cellular and systems neuroscience and the high quality of her multidisciplinary research outputs are evident in the ranking and esteem of the journals in which she has published. Her expertise are in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics and behavioural neuroscience.
Elise is an early-career postdoctoral researcher within the Cognitive Neuroscience and Computational Psychiatry Laboratory at the University of Melbourne. Elise recently completed her PhD in the Neuroscience of Consciousness laboratory at Monash University where she used EEG-based computational modelling and machine learning techniques to investigate visual perception, attention, awareness and predictive coding mechanisms. Elise’s postdoctoral research uses MRI and dMRI to investigate the subcortical pathways underlying various aspects of visual perception, specifically those relating to conscious and unconscious visual processing.
Ethan Scott earned his undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he studied molecular genetics in yeast under the mentorship of Prof. Thomas Petes. He then moved to Stanford University, and the lab of Prof. Liqun Luo, for his PhD work in developmental neuroscience. This work involved using targeted transgenics in Drosophila to express protein tools that revealed neurons' structures and contributions to sensory processing. This approach, using transgenics to explore the structure and function of neurons and networks, has formed the basis of his subsequent work. As a postdoc with Prof. Herwig Baier at UC-San Francisco, Ethan developed Gal4 enhancer trapping in the zebrafish model system, providing transgenic reagents for the exploration of this system's neural networks. In 2007, he established his own lab at the University of Queensland, where he is now a professor.
Luke is a biomedical engineer interested in vision, visual neuroscience, and neural prosthetics. He completed a B.E. (Computer Engineering) at the University of Wollongong, and a Ph.D. (Biomedical Engineering) at the University of New South Wales. He did postdoctoral research at New York University in both the Department of Psychology and the Center for Neural Science. There, he made psychophysical, fMRI, and neuronal measurements in normal and amblyopic visual systems. In 2018 Luke joined the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Auckland as a Senior Lecturer.
Cliff Abraham received his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Florida before moving to New Zealand as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Otago, where he is now Professor of Psychology. He was the founding Director of Otago’s Brain Health Research Centre and founding co-Director of the national Centre of Research Excellence: Brain Research New Zealand-Rangahau Roro Aotearoa, and is currently co-Leader of the Aotearoa Brain Project. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and was awarded the University of Otago’s Distinguished Research Medal. Professor Abraham’s research focuses on the neural mechanisms of learning and memory, especially the phenomena of long-term potentiation, long-term depression and metaplasticity, the latter being a term that he coined. He has led several large programmes of research investigating plasticity mechanisms as well as biomarkers and therapeutic agents for Alzheimer’s disease, funded by the NZ Health Research Council.
Dr Lucia Schweitzer is a research fellow in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Otago. Lucia is a molecular and cellular neurobiologist with an interest in neurodegenerative diseases. Over the last 10 years, Lucia has worked on projects investigating adult neurogenesis, therapies and models for Alzheimer’s disease within a multi-group programme, and Batten disease within an international research network. Lucia currently studies the role of lysosomal dysfunction in microglia and astrocytes in neurodegeneration in A/P Stephanie Hughes’ lab. The studies utilise a combination viral vector administration to mouse models, as well as in vitro work using primary rodent, and iPSC-derived human neurons glial cells. Linking back to her PhD work which focused on RNA regulation and localisation in neurons, Lucia is also interested in the roles of RNA binding proteins in ageing and neurodegeneration.
Sophie Mathiesen is a PhD candidate in her final year at the University of Otago in Dunedin, NZ, supervised by AP Stephanie Hughes and Prof Cliff Abraham. During her PhD, she has been studying the use of AAV gene therapy vectors for treating neurological disease, with a focus on Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, she has investigated AAV vectors that have been modified to effectively reach the central nervous system when given by intravenous injection. Preclinical studies using these vectors, carried out by Sophie and other members of the Hughes and Abraham laboratories, have illuminated understanding of the prospects and pitfalls of this novel therapeutic technique.
Deborah Young completed her PhD in 1998 before postdoctoral training in the lab of gene therapy pioneer Matthew During. She has a long-standing interest in gene therapy for neurodegenerative diseases and AAV vectors as a tool for gene transfer to the brain. Following the award of an HRC Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship in 2003, she was appointed as an Associate Professor in Pharmacology in 2010 and leads the Molecular Neurotherapeutics lab at the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland. Her current research focuses on the preclinical testing of new gene regulation technologies and specific cell-targeting vectors to refine the clinical application of gene therapy, an area of interest sparked as a collaborator on the first human gene therapy trial for Parkinson’s disease. She has an h-index of 35 and has published 87 articles/book chapters. In 2017, she was appointed an Associate Director at the CBR.
Thomas Edwards is a consultant vitreoretinal surgeon at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH) and Principal Investigator at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA). He holds a dual appointment in the Vitreoretinal Unit and the Ocular Genetics Clinic at the RVEEH. He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge and was the recipient of a Nuffield Fellowship to the University of Oxford. He leads a research group working on translational projects involving retinal gene therapy, including clinical trials.
Sam Nayler’s research is focussed on neural development, and spans across disciplines to utilize cutting edge in vitro models to investigate neurodegeneration. Sam was awarded a PhD from the University of Queensland, using pluripotent stem cells to understand the rare disease Ataxia Telangiectasia (A-T), resulting in the first reported generation of iPSCs (2012) and cerebellar neurons (2017) from patients with A-T. In 2016 Sam was the Australian recipient of the Oxford Nuffield Medical Fellowship, and in April 2017 commenced a postdoctoral position in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford continuing his work in both neuronal organoid technology as well as single cell sequencing, specifically, the development of informatics pipelines for analysis of large patient cohorts. Sam returned home to Australia in 2020 and continues to utilize both bioinformatics and wet-lab approaches to develop screening platforms for the next generation of disease modelling and drug discovery.
Dr Adam Walker is the Ross Maclean Fellow for MND Research at the Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland. He obtained his PhD in neuroscience from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, and was an NHMRC CJ Martin postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr Walker leads a research group studying the molecular mechanisms of motor neuron disease and frontotemporal dementia with a focus on understanding the role of TDP-43 dysfunction in disease. His work is supported by agencies including the NHMRC, FightMND, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, and MND Research Australia.
Dr Cathy Blizzard is a mid-career researcher and Senior Lecturer at the University of Tasmanian’s Tasmanian School of Medicine. Her research is directed toward understanding the pathological processes that lead to the demise of the corticomotor-system in Motor Neuron Disease. Cathy has spent the last decade on continuous nationally competitive research fellowship and her research has been supported by the NHMRC, ARC, MNDRA, Brain Foundation and Dementia Australia. The research Cathy performs has contributed to our understanding of the triggers for neurodegeneration in MND and has been cited over 1200 times.
A/Prof Seth Masters is head of the Inflammasomes and Autoinflammatory Disease laboratory at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. He holds a joint appointment at the Guangzhou Institute of Pediatrics (China), is a scientific advisor for IFM therapeutics, and is appointed as a fellow of the Viertel Foundation, HHMI-Wellcome Trust and the NHMRC.
Dr Mouna Haidar completed her PhD in neuroscience in 2018 at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne, where she examined the role of a brain neuropeptide in learning and memory within the neurodegenerative disciplines. Soon after completing her PhD, she was recruited to work as a postdoctoral researcher in the MND laboratory at the Florey Institute. She is developing the use of chemogenetics to model cortical hyperexcitability in preclinical models of ALS in hope to better unravel the contribution of brain motor neurons in the pathophysiology of ALS.
Associate Professor Lezanne Ooi is an NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellow and Group Leader of the Neurodevelopment and Neurodegeneration Lab. She established her lab in the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute at the University of Wollongong in 2012. Her research specialty is cellular neuroscience and the regulation of neuronal function in neurodegenerative disease. Her lab has generated >100 induced pluripotent stem cell lines for disease modelling and drug discovery for Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, motor neuron disease and vanishing white matter disease. Her lab uses electrophysiology, imaging and a range of cell and molecular biology techniques.
Group Leader, Cellular and Molecular Neurodegeneration, Mental Health Program, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. Anthony White obtained a PhD in neuroscience from Murdoch University and undertook a post-doctoral position at University of Melbourne investigating Alzheimer’s and prion diseases. He worked at Imperial College of Medicine, UK, studying immunotherapeutic approaches to prion diseases, and obtained an RD Wright Fellowship to establish a research group at the Department of Pathology, University of Melbourne investigating the role of biometals in neurodegeneration and development of metal-based drugs for treatment of these disorders. He was recruited to QIMR Berghofer in 2016, and is currently an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow. He is developing new human patient-based models of neurodegeneration including microglia, 3D cultures, and organoids to improve translational outcomes for neurotherapeutics.
Dr Erika Gyengesi is an associate lecturer at Western Sydney University (WSU), School of Medicine. She was awarded her PhD in 2010 from the Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary studying the basal forebrain cholinergic system in vivo. In 2007, she became a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University (USA), studying the effect of metabolic changes on synaptic input organization of the hypothalamus. In 2010 she joined the Prof George Paxinos at NeuRA where she was involved in anatomical mapping projects. In 2012, she joined the lab of Prof Gerald Muench, at the WSU for the group of Pharmacology. Her work since is focused on the effects of chronic neuroinflammation and ageing on the basal forebrain cholinergic system and its interconnected areas and natural anti-inflammatory drugs improving cognitive function loss in mice.
Caterina Scuderi, PharmD, PhD, is Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology of SAPIENZA University of Rome, Italy. Her research activity is centered on the field of neuropharmacology and, in particular, on the importance of glial cells in brain aging as well as in the pathogenesis of brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. Her studies demonstrate the presence of important alterations of the cerebral homeostasis caused by glial abnormalities and support the hypothesis that the pharmacological manipulation of glial functionality may represent a promising and innovative therapeutic approach for neurodegenerative pathologies. Recently, A/Prof Scuderi co-authored a book that integrates the body of information accumulated in recent years revealing the active role of astrocytes in psychiatric disorders.
Dr Markus Hofer is Senior Lecturer at The University of Sydney and the consultant neuropathologist for the New South Wales Tissue Resource Centre. He is also Privatdozent at the Faculty of Medicine, Philipps University in Marburg, Germany. His research combines classical neuropathology with state-of-the-art molecular approaches to develop potential biomarkers and novel therapeutic approaches for interferon-induced disease. His research team collaborates with pharmaceutical companies including Biogen and Ionis Pharmaceuticals. His recent research focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the cytokine interferon-alpha mediates its beneficial and detrimental effects.
Dr Amy Smith is a Research Fellow in glial cell biology at the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland. Her work focuses on the links between the immune system and the brain. She gained her PhD in microglial biology from the University of Auckland before carrying out her post-doctoral training in the UK, firstly at the University of Oxford investigating biomarkers of early immune dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease, and then at the UK Dementia Research Institute at Imperial College London leading human brain single-nuclei transcriptomics projects. Amy returned to New Zealand in 2021 to establish her research group, focusing on the role of inflammatory processes in neurodegeneration, using human brain tissue and human brain cell cultures. Her work takes a functional genomics approach - using large-scale human data to ask new questions about disease and identify new drug targets for neurological disorders.
Dr David Gonsalvez completed his PhD at The University of Melbourne under A/Prof Colin Anderson, which improved our understanding of the proliferation dynamics and cellular growth rates in the development of the peripheral nervous system. In 2015, he was awarded an NH&MRC Peter Doherty Fellowship to work on brain development and identifying novel therapeutic targets that promote the repair of white matter following autoimmune injury. In 2020, he joined Monash University where he heads up the Neuro-Glial development and repair Lab and is also Deputy Director of the Monash Centre for Human Anatomy Education. In 2021, he commenced an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship and continue their work on mechanisms that regulate glial function in development and neuroplasticity and novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of disease such as Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neuron Disease.