Using brain health as a common point, our researchers are investigating across a range of populations from people with chronic pain through to suicide prevention and rehabilitation after neurotrauma, neurodegeneration or drug use. Again, the emphasis is on translation of discoveries in mechanisms and pathways through to the clinical and community settings.

Our Research

Neuroregeneration Laboratory

Researchers in the Neuroregeneration Laboratory are investigating the biological processes that underlie neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and nerve injury. They are also investigating how to promote regeneration of diseased or damaged neurons by targeting adult stem cells and neurotrophins and their receptors.

Neurophysiology of Human Movement Laboratory

Researchers in the Neurophysiology of Human Movement Laboratory are investigating how the human brain plans and performs upper limb movement in health and disease. They are particularly interested in how movement-related brain regions change following use of illicit stimulant drugs (e.g. methamphetamine and ecstasy) and in early Parkinson’s disease.

Substance Use and Pregnancy Laboratory

Researchers in the Substance Use and Pregnancy Laboratory are investigating the acute- and long-term effects of use of substances of abuse in pregnancy, and the effects that these substances have on the mother, developing fetus, and neonate, and their extended family.

Our capabilities

Cell and animal models of neurodegenerative diseases and spinal cord injury:

  • Gene-modified models for Alzheimer’s disease and analysis
  • Spinal cord injury model and ischemic model to study pathogenesis and drug development
  • Jugular vein cannulation for drug pharmacokinetics studies
  • Panels of behavioural tests of rodents for memory and mood

Neuronal cell culture and imaging:

  • Live imaging of cell migration, neurite growth, and proliferation using Biostation microscopy
  • FRET analysis to study protein-protein interactions using confocal microscopy
  • Vesicle trafficking in neuronal axons

Antibodies and recombinant protein production:

  • Antibodies to neurotrophins and their receptors with ELISA assay techniques
  • Recombinant protein production and purification for biological analysis

Transcranial magnetic brain stimulation for measurement of the excitability of movement-related circuitry in conscious humans.

Myographs for measurement of kinetic and kinematic data during human movement.

Electromyography (EMG) for measurement of the electrical activity in skeletal muscle during human movement. Both surface (non-invasive) and intramuscular recordings are available.

Transcranial ultrasound for measurement of substantia nigra morphology in conscious humans.

Neuropsychological assessment of new learning, executive functioning, attention, and working memory.

Through ongoing collaborations in the USA, with the University of North Carolina and Thomas Jefferson University, UniSA neuroscientists are able to access world class models of care for substance-using pregnant and parenting women and their children. Access to the population of women and children who are managed by these models of care also enables access to a diverse genetic gene pool in which to better understand and treat substance-using pregnant women and their affected infants.