9th January, 2018
Otago breakthrough in diabetic heart disease
The molecule responsible for heart disease in diabetics has been identified by University of Otago researchers, greatly improving chances of survival.
13th November, 2017
Otago study could mean hope for infertile couples
Crucial new information about how the brain controls fertility has been unlocked by University of Otago researchers, with their findings just published in prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
13th November, 2017
Phenomenal success for Physiology researchers in latest Marsden funding round
Four 3-year project grants were awarded to Department of Physiology researchers in this year’s Marsden Fund - totalling over $3.8M.
25th October, 2017
Charlotte Steel, BSc (Hons) NEUR student in the Department has gained a Cambridge Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship
Our congratulations to Charlotte who is currently completing a BSc (Hons) degree in Neuroscience in the Department of Physiology with supervisor Assoc Prof Phil Sheard.
8th September, 2017
PhD student wins two awards at Queenstown Research Week
Congratulations to Mauro Silva, PhD student in the Department of Physiology. Mauro is supervised by Dr Rebecca Campbell.
22nd January, 2018
Dr. rer. nat. Fenja Knopp (Excellence Cluster Cardio-Pulmonary System, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany)
23rd June, 2017
Congratulations to Professor Allan Herbison who is the recipient of two Health Research Council of NZ (HRC) Project Grants totalling almost $2.6 million.
Both projects provide 3-years of funding. Details of the projects are:
GnRH neuron control of ovulation ($1,167,633):
Nearly 40% of women suffering form infertility are unable to ovulate normally. While it is known that the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons in the brain control fertility, the molecular and cellular characteristics of the sub-population of GnRH neurons that drive ovulation are not established. This project aims to identify and characterize the specific GnRH neurons responsible for generating the "GnRH surge" that initiates ovulation. This will be achieved by implementing cutting-edge optogenetic neuroscience methodologies that will allow the electrical activity of "GnRH surge neurons" to be recorded. In addition, the use of a novel genetic cell activity detection strategy will allow the electrical membrane properties and gene expression profiles of GnRH surge neurons to be identified. These studies will generate an in-depth understanding of the key cells that drive ovulation and thereby provide a platform for developing therapeutic agents for fertility control.
Deciphering the dendron for fertility control ($1,092,337):
The gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons control fertility in all mammals including humans. We have recently discovered that GnRH neurons have a cellular process previously unknown in the central nervous system termed a "dendron". We propose that the unique features of the GnRH neuron dendron allow neural inputs to generate and modulate the pulsatile release of reproductive hormone levels in the blood. Correct levels of hormone pulsatility are critical for fertility. This project will use innovative neuroscience technologies to identify the neural inputs acting upon the dendron and then establish their physiological role in regulating the secretion of GnRH. Together, these studies will determine how this unique neuronal structure operates and provide a foundation for exploring the utility of dendron-targeted therapies for fertility control in humans.
I am passionately devoted to the study of life, and particularly to the higher forms of life. For me the one great question that has dominated my life is: "What am I?" What is the meaning of this marvelous gift of life? The more we know, the more the mystery grows.