Associate Professor Roger Pocock, Group Leader
Associate Professor Roger Pocock
T: 61 3 9905 0654
Our group aims to decipher fundamental mechanisms that control brain developmental and function.
C. elegans as a model system
C. elegans has a small and well-defined nervous system that we use as a model to study neuronal development and function at single-neuron resolution. Sophisticated molecular genetic techniques, ease of observation and detailed anatomical, genetic and molecular information make the worm an excellent experimental model.
1. Control of brain development and function by microRNAs
Correct brain function requires that gene regulatory networks precisely control its development and performance. Such genetic regulation ensures the generation of correct neuron subtypes, precise axonal and dendritic projection patterns and synaptic plasticity during memory formation. microRNAs (miRNAs) are potent regulators of genetic networks and the objective of this research project is to use C. elegans and vertebrate models to elucidate the roles of conserved miRNAs in the control of brain development and function.
2. Programming of specific neuronal fates in the brain
In both the vertebrate and invertebrate nervous systems different neural types can be distinguished based on position, gene expression, connectivity and function. During acquisition of a specific identity, a neuron interprets spatial, temporal and lineage information. We are particularly interested in understanding how stress-responsive neural circuitry is programmed and we focus on the ability of organisms to sense and respond to oxygen and carbon dioxide in the environment.
3. Regulation of neuronal migration and axon guidance
The correct wiring of the nervous system requires that neurons migrate to the correct position in the brain and then extend axons to their targets. During development, neurons navigate through a complex environment where they receive instructive signals from the extracellular matrix and guidance molecules. We study the molecular mechanisms that control these complex events during development.
The brain can respond to changes in the internal and external environment by altering gene expression. We study how the brain responds to environmental cues such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, in addition to starvation. This work will provide insights into how the environment interacts with the nervous system to enable systemic responses to environmental perturbations.
- Dr Sandeep Gopal
- Dr Ava handley
- Dr Camilla Nehammer
- Ms Leelee Ng
- Mr Oguzhan Baltaci
- Ms Wei Cao
- Mr Pedro Moreira
- June Deng
- Andrew Tan
Applications from highly motivated postdoctoral researchers, PhD students and honors students are encouraged