Department of Physiology
Otago School of Medical Sciences
University of Otago
PO Box 913
Phone: 479 9016
Fax: +64 3 479 7323
Member of Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience.
Current research in the lab focuses on understanding the neurophysiological mechanisms involved in regulating the activity of the gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons and, ultimately, fertility in all mammals. We are particularly interested in the afferent control of GnRH neurons by kisspeptin neurons in the preoptic area and in their regulation by circulating gonadal steroid hormones and by the circadian clock.
Specific projects will examine how neurons in the suprachiasmatic nucleus – where the biological clock resides – control the activity of preoptic area kisspeptin neurons using anatomical and functional approaches. We will also investigate whether pathological levels of circulating gonadal steroid hormones such as those seen in polycystic ovarian syndrome, a leading cause of female infertility, may impair the suprachiasmatic nucleus to kisspeptin neuron microcircuit.
Techniques employed include in vitro patch-clamp electrophysiology, optogenetics, live cell calcium imaging and neural pathway tract tracing.
2016-2019: HRC project grant “Timekeeping in the neural network controlling fertility” ($1,074,371)
A summer research project is an excellent way to get a taste for what scientific research is like. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in carrying on with science beyond undergraduate level.