Neurobiology > Laboratory People
Professor Marina Kennerson
Director, Northcott Neuroscience Laboratory
ANZAC Research Institute
Concord Repatriation General Hospital
Professor Kennerson is a Principal Hospital Scientist with the Molecular Medicine Laboratory at Concord Hospital and Senior Principal Research Fellow with the ANZAC Research Institute and Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney. She is a key international researcher in the field of hereditary neuropathies and has developed the genomics gene discovery and translational program at the ANZAC Research Institute. She is a member of the international CMT-R Board, Chair of the Asian Oceanic Inherited Neuropathy Consortium (AOINC), a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the CMT Research Foundation and Deputy Director and Head of Research for the Sydney Local Health District Institute of Precision Medicine and Bioinformatics. Professor Kennerson has discovered several neuropathy genes including ATP7A and PDK3 as well as structural variation mutations causing gene dysregulation as a new disease mechanism for hereditary neuropathies. She is also developing a translational program to introduce induced pluripotent stem cell technologies and animal models (mouse and C. elegans) for the newly discovered genes. Professor Kennerson is recognised for teaching gene mapping linkage analysis both locally and internationally and is the Genetics Unit of Study Co-Ordinator for the Masters Course at the Brain and Mind Centre.
Professor Garth Nicholson is a world leader in neurogenetics having identified the genes for several neuromuscular disorders resulting in four publications in Nature Genetics. He first identified the gene for hereditary liability to pressure palsies and later the gene causing hereditary sensory neuropathy. This led to the development of a novel diagnostic test and the first applications to prenatal genetic diagnosis, which have now led to the birth of four healthy unaffected babies to parent with this condition. He mapped the first chromosome locus for Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) neuropathy and new forms of CMT and made important contributions in familial Parkinson's disease, acoustic neuroma, Friedrich’s Ataxia and Motor Neuron Disease research. He is a Board Member of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (USA) and member of the European Neuromuscular Consortium.
Dr Gonzalo Perez Siles joined the Northcott Neurobiology Laboratory at ANZAC Research Institute in 2012 and oversees the cell biology program that studies the consequences of newly discovered hereditary neuropathy gene mutations. The cell biology program uses a broad range of cell models, including patient derived skin fibroblasts and established neuronal cell lines. We are currently implementing an iPSC program to develop patient derived motor neurons. This strategy will allow us to study, in the appropriate neuronal cell type, the impact of disease causative mutations while maintaining the disease-associated genetic background of the patient. Dr Perez-Siles’s research extends to the use of animal models genetically modified to express disease causing mutations. He has recently generated a unique conditional knock in mouse to model a particular form of X-linked distal hereditary motor neuropathy, dHMNX. This mouse model will provide critical information to understand how axonal degeneration occurs in this form of motor neuron disease and will become a valuable model to test the effectiveness of developing compounds in preventing or ameliorating motor neuron cell death.
Dr Ramesh Narayanan completed his PhD thesis on Motor Neuron Disease in 2013 at Queensland Brain Institute, for which received Dean Commendation for research excellence. Following this, he worked with CRC for People Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders to develop cell line models for studying molecular mechanisms involved in Autism. In 2016, he was recruited to the Hu Laboratory within the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research (CJCADR) based at The University of Queensland to study synaptic transmission in neurological diseases. Under Dr Zhitao Hu’s supervision, Dr Narayanan was trained to utilize a nematode of 1 mm size, Caenorhabditis elegans to study synaptic processes associated with neuron maintenance and molecular mechanisms involved in learning and memory. In 2018, Dr Narayanan was awarded the Mervyn Thomas Mildenhall Research Fellowship to work, within the Neurobiology group based at ANZAC Research Institute, on Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) neuropathy. He is primarily involved in developing new C. elegans models for studying CMT and other peripheral neuropathies. In the future, he hopes to utilize small animal models for drug development and biotechnological discoveries.
Dr Kaitao Lai is a Bioinformatics Hospital Scientist with expertise in genome informatics, high throughput genomic data analysis, gene editing, machine learning as well as big data analysis and elastic cloud computing. His research interest encompasses the discovery of novel neuropathy genes and understanding structural variation causing inherited peripheral neuropathies such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT). He is currently working on mutation discovery, such as structural variations causing inherited peripheral neuropathies, and analysis of Hi-C data and gene expression data from induced pluripotent stem cell technologies and animal model (C. elegans) for the newly discovered genes.