Research areas and laboratories
The Discipline of Biomedical Science is active in a broad range of research areas, reflecting the diverse interests and expertise of staff. The following list shows the major research areas and key researchers of the Discipline and their associates.
If you are a potential student please contact the person(s) listed in your area of interest or the persons listed on the right pane.
- Antimicrobial Resistance
- Cardiovascular Control
- Cellular Toxicology
- Elite Music Performance
- Hypermobility Disorders Research
- Muscle Research
- Molecular Neuroscience
- Neurodegeneration Research
- Performing Arts Medicine Research
- Reproductive Toxicology
- Respiratory Motor Control
- Sensory Systems
- Visual Neuroscience
Leader: Dr Elizabeth Hegedus
- Epidemiology of hospital and community acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Epidemiology of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) in the community
- Emergence of microbes resistant to antimicrobial drugs
- Strategies for prevention of antimicrobial resistance
- Infection control
Dr Gary Lee - Discipline of Biomedical Science
Dr Diana Oakes - Discipline of Biomedical Science
Dr Catherine Willis - Discipline of Biomedical Science
Mr Geoffrey Coombs - Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Royal Perth Hospital WA
Dr Peter Knight - Discipline of Biomedical Science
Dr Ming Wu - School of Biomedical and Health Sciences,
College of Health and Science, UNSW
Leader: Dr Jaimie Polson
- Programmed hypertension: the effects of maternal stress or exposure to raised glucocorticoid during pregnancy.
- Command neurons in the midbrain: cardio-respiratory regulation in defensive and escape behaviours
- The role of the hypothalamus in the cardiovascular response to environmental stressors such as psychological stress or exercise.
- Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction in congenital cardiac disease
Our interests lie in how the brain controls cardiovascular and respiratory regulation at rest and during certain behaviours, such as stress or exercise.
We use a multidisciplinary approach in studying the central nervous system control of blood pressure. Techniques include:
- Radio-telemetry recording of blood pressure in conscious animals.
- Neuroanatomical tract tracing using antero- and retrograde tracers.
- C-fos mapping of activated brain neurons in response to activation of cardiovascular reflexes.
- Electrophysiological recording of central neurons & peripheral nerves.
- Brain microinjections of peptides and neuroactive substances.
Research is primarily carried out in the Discipline of Physiology, School of Medical Sciences, Camperdown Campus.
Professor Roger Dampney - Discipline of Physiology
Professor Julian Paton - Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, University of Bristol. UK
Professor Andrew Wolf - Professor of Paediatric Anaesthesia and Intensive Care. Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. UK
Leader: Associate Professor Fazlul Huq
- Design of novel platinum compounds cis-geometry and trans-geometry targeted to ovarian cancer
- Platinum(II) complexes with multiple metal centres
- Optimization of bioavailability of trans-platinums by modulation of leaving groups
- Overcoming drug resistance in ovarian and colorectal cancers using drug combination
- Proteomic studies
- In vivo activity of selected platinums
- Metal-induced toxicity and carcinogenicity
- Molecular modeling analyses of metabolism of drugs and toxicants
Associate Professor Philip Beale - Department of Medicine
Associate Professor Charles Chan - Department of Pathology
Dr. Jun Qing Yu - Discipline of Biomedical Science
Prof Patricia Vit Olivier - Venezuela
Associate Professor Mohammad Danish - University of Gujurat Pakistan
Leader: Dr Diana Oakes
Research interests include developing/assessing in vitro techniques that can be utilised to assess the toxic effects of chemicals (eg therapeutic drugs, occupational chemicals, complementary medicines). This allows subsequent risk assessment to be based on biological and toxicological plausibility.
- Screening chemical mixtures for possible pro- or anti- genotoxic effects.
- Assessing the in vitro DNA damage induced by novel chemotherapeutic drugs and associated mechanisms of cellular resistance.
- Investigate the genotoxic effects of therapeutic drugs and chemicals that are associated with birth defects.
- Other opportunities exist for PhD projects in collaboration with Dr. Helen Ritchie based at the Laboratory of Reproductive Toxicology in the Discipline of Anatomy & Histology, University of Sydney – based at Camperdown campus.
Professor Bill Webster - Discipline of Anatomy & Histology
Assoc. Prof. Fazlul Huq - Discipline of Biomedical Science
Dr Elizabeth Hegedus - Discipline of Biomedical Science
Dr Helen Ritchie - Discipline of Biomedical Science
Leader: Dr Bronwen Ackermann
- Electromyographic (EMG) studies investigating respiratory and facial muscle activation and coordination patterns in wind and brass musicians.
- Injury prevention studies involving prospective surveillance of professional orchestral musicians
- Developing a national educational curriculum aimed at improving health education of musicians
- Studies investigating efficacy of interventions purported to reduce injury in the professional musician population
- Studies developing an assessment tool and evaluating the validity and reliability of the components of this physical examination protocol
- Examining the use of video feedback and developing coaching methods to improving performance biomechanics and reduce injury in musicians
- Physical characteristic and injury profiling in various musical groups within the professional and tertiary student music population
Associate Professor Tim Driscoll - School of Public Health
Associate Professor Suzanne Wijsman - School of Music, UWA
Professor Dianna Kenny - School of Education and Social Work
Associate Professor Nick O’Dwyer - Discipline of Exercise Science
Dr Mark Halaki - Discipline of Exercise Science
Ms Julie Seaton (ALTC grant)
Ms Alison Evans
Mr Xinguang (Chris) Wang
Leader: Associate Professor Leslie Nicholson
Hypermobility disorders (heritable disorders of connective tissue including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Joint Hypermobility Syndrome).
This research incorporates:
- Cohort studies of adults and children to establish the clinical presentation of the disorder/s
- Identification of risk factors for sporting injury in these populations.
- Quality of life measurement
- Quantification of impairments (joint range/proprioception / balance)
- Quantification of skin involvement
- Clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of conservative treatment to minimise the impact of impairments
- Injury surveillance of Australian professional soccer.
- Femoral torsion (measurement and relationship to hip and lower limb injury)
Dr Louise Tofts The Children’s Hospital, Westmead
Dr Craig Munns The Children’s Hospital, Westmead
Assoc Prof Birgit Jull-Kristensen University of Southern Denmark
Dr Mark Hancock School of Physiotherapy, Macquarie University
Prof Kathryn Refshauge Discipline of Physiotherapy, Sydney University
Dr Claire Hiller Discipline of Physiotherapy, Sydney University
Leader Dr Joanna Diong
- Mechanical properties of muscles and tendons in contracture (loss of joint range of motion)
- Ultrasound imaging of muscle fascicles and tendons
- Functional musculoskeletal anatomy
- Prognosis of musculoskeletal complications in neurological conditions
- Hip fracture and other falls injury in older people
- Evidence based practice in clinical research
Ongoing collaborations with research groups at The University of Sydney (Discipline of Biomedical Science, Exercise and Sports Science), Neuroscience Research Australia and The George Institute for Global Health.
Master of Philosophy
The effect of eccentric exercise on mechanical properties of the gastrocnemius in contracture after multiple sclerosis
Shoulder muscle activation patterns
Leader: Dr Damian Holsinger
We investigate genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Down Syndrome.
- Our investigations in Alzheimer’s disease have led to the development of a gene therapeutic approach using RNA interference that is currently undergoing pre-clinical assessment in our laboratory.
- The investigations in Down Syndrome are focussed around two critical genes that are located on chromosome 21, the trisomy of which contributes to the Syndrome.
- We have recently embarked on a project related to Parkinson’s disease that is investigating a key genetic mutation associated with the disease that is equally prevalent in both early and late onset forms of the disease. Understanding the contribution of this gene will enable us to develop therapeutic strategies.
- Centenarians are a key group of individuals that demonstrate resilience and successful ageing in the face of lifes’ travesties. These individuals must therefore have a unique genetic composition that has enabled them to successfully navigate the daily maladies of gene-environment interactions, which normally prove toxic to other individuals. We are currently investigating the presence of various allelic and single nucleotide polymorphisms that may contribute to successful ageing.
Dr Yong Chen - Post doctoral associate; Brain and Mind Research Instutute
Ms Rebecca Brown - PhD scholar; Brain and Mind Research Institue
Leader: Associate Professor Kay Double
- Brain cell death in neurodegenerative disease, particular in Parkinson’s disease, and developing new treatments to slow disease progression
- Stem cells in healthy ageing and their potential for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases affecting movement and cognition
- Development and application of new neuroimaging methods for the diagnosis of preclinical neurological disease
- Clinical research with physiotherapists to understand the physiological basis of movement problems in Parkinson’s disease
Our research is primarily based at a custom-built laboratory at the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) in Camperdown, although some clinical research is based at the Cumberland Campus.
Collaborations and student exchanges
Currently active research collaborations include projects with researchers in Melbourne, Adelaide, Germany, France and Finland, with regular exchanges of researchers and students.
- Ms Veronica Cottam - Laboratory Manager
Leader Dr Cliffton Chan
Dr Chan’s area of research is in evidence-informed management strategies to optimise function and performance in the working population, with particular interests in performing artists. Knowing when to draw upon suitable literature from the occupational and sport medicine domains is often necessary to guide best practice and research for performing artists.
This research incorporates:
- designing and implementing targeted exercise programs for work-related musculoskeletal disorders, especially in musicians
- developing and validating upper limb assessment tools
- investigating the prevalence and impact of upper limb hypermobility in various sporting and the musician groups
- injury prevention and management strategies for musicians
A/Prof Leslie Nicholson - Discipline of Biomedical Science
Dr Bronwen Ackermann - Discipline of Biomedical Science
Dr Luke Hopper - Edith Cowan University
Research Topics (available for honours & postgraduate students)
- Upper Limb Hypermobility In University Instrumental Musicians
- Development of an Upper Limb Hypermobility Tool
- Differences in Shoulder and Scapular Kinematics Between Musicians With and Without Pain
Contact: to discuss your research questions and research possibilities.
- Role of hypoxia in abnormal development
- Bradycardia and birth defects
- Expression of ion-channel proteins during development
Professor Bill Webster - Discipline of Anatomy & Histology
Leader: Dr Ronald Balnave
Research in this laboratory concentrates on physiological links between the midbrain and brainstem respiratory centres involved in control of respiration. The dorsal and ventral respiratory groups, interconnected networks of respiratory-related cells, are part of the neural system controlling respiratory rhythm generation and respiratory motor output. The work in the laboratory is attempting to locate cells in these centres and observe their firing patterns during “normal” breathing and to observe changes in these firing patterns when the respiratory system is perturbed by alterations to central or peripheral neural inputs.
- Brainstem mechanisms in the control of breathing – production of apnea
- Interactions between peripheral inputs and midbrain centres in the control of breathing – vagus nerve and midbrain PAG
Dr Chin Moi Chow - Discipline of Exercise & Sport Science
Leader: Dr. Aaron Camp
- Airplanes, submarines and even our humble phones use sophisticated guidance systems to allow them to navigate through the environment. Amazingly, vertebrates have used analogous systems for billions of years! These systems are our senses. My research investigates how sensory signals are combined to enable navigation through our complex world.
(view Aaron's sensory systems flyer.)
- Anatomical and physiological development of mouse and human vestibular (balance) organs.
- Investigations into early visual processing in the mouse and primate visual system.
- Integration of vision and balance in the cerebral cortex.
Dr Sam Solomon - Discipline of Physiology
Dr Rebecca Lim - University of Newcastle
Mr Rajiv Wijesinghe
Leader: Associate Professor Karen Ginn
- Electromyographic (EMG) studies investigating shoulder muscle activation and coordination patterns in normal subjects and patients with shoulder dysfunction
- EMG studies evaluating shoulder exercises
- Clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of conservative and surgical treatment for shoulder dysfunction
- Studies investigating the aetiology of frozen shoulder
- Studies evaluating the validity and reliability of components of the physical examination of the shoulder
- Shoulder region profiling in various sporting populations
Dr Mark Halaki - Discipline of Exercise Science
Dr Ian Cathers - Discipline of Exercise Science
Ms Robyn Adler
Mr Dan Tardo
Leader: Dr Alan Freeman
- Ambiguous perception
- Modelling the visual system
- Rapid serial visual presentation
For more detail, please see Alan's research lab poster.
Dr. Urte Roeber - School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University
Dr. Elaine Wong - Discipline of Biomedical Science
Dr Padma Iyer - School of Medicine, Duke University, North Carolina, USA
Leader: Dr Jin Huang
If we ask: How do we see? How is the image processed? The answer lies in the eyes and rest of the brain.
Located at the back of the eye is the retina. It is light sensitive. It contains nerve cells (neurons) that are important in the first stage of visual perception and visual processing. One of the types of neurons in the retina is called ganglion cells. They project to other regions within the brain and are important in the modification of complex visual signals.
Ganglion cells also receive a variety of excitatory and inhibitory signals within the retina. Hence, the properties of ganglion cells depend on how these signals are integrated. An important aspect of this integration is related to the relative magnitude and timing of these inputs, as this helps to determine the spatial and temporal properties of ganglion cells.
However, we do not know at present exactly how these inputs to ganglion cells impact on their activity. To investigate this, we are using intracellular recording techniques to examine the changes in ganglion cells activity in response to different types of inputs. Our project also looks at the effects of drug-simulation on the responses of ganglion cells, as this can also help us in understanding the receptive filed properties of ganglion cells.
Jin is currently working on the retina. Looking at the properties of ganglion cells using patch clamping techniques.
Community and professional engagements
Please follow this link to view Jin's community and professional engagements.
Dr Dario Protti - Discipline of Physiology