Development, plasticity and regeneration of urogenital nerves
Mechanisms of regeneration of autonomic and sensory nerves
Neural control of male reproductive function
Neurobiology of visceral and neuropathic pain
Structure and function of pelvic ganglia and lumbosacral spinal cord
Janet is recognized internationally in the area of autonomic neuroscience, especially the spinal and peripheral circuits that control bladder and reproductive organs. More recently her work in this area has been directed to developing strategies to repair these peripheral nerves after surgical damage (e.g. following prostatectomy). Janet has also developed a strong background in pain research, initially in the area of pelvic visceral pain and more recently in spinal cord injury pain, focusing primarily on plasticity of sensory and spinal neurons. A brief history: Janet graduated with a BSc (Hons) in reproductive endocrinology from the University of Adelaide (Supervisor: Prof Bob Seamark) and a PhD from Flinders University, where she studied the enteric nervous system under the mentorship of Professors John Furness and Marcello Costa. She was awarded an NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship to undergo postdoctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh with Prof William (“Chet”) de Groat, focused on pelvic autonomic ganglia that innervate the urogenital organs. Upon returning to Australia to work with Prof Prof Elspeth McLachlan, she was recruited to an academic position at the University of Queensland, where she held a continuing Lectureship then Senior Lectureship position for 10 years. She was then awarded an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship, held at the University of New South Wales and then the University of Sydney, where she was appointed Director of Basic Research at the Pain Management Research Institute, Royal North Shore Hospital. In February 2012 Janet was appointed to the Chair of Anatomy and Neuroscience at the University of Melbourne and held the position of Head of Department from 2013-2017.
Neuroscience research projects are available in a number of areas including: - Development of sacral autonomic and nociceptive nerve circuits - Mechanisms of establishing sexual dimorphism in developing urogenital nerves - Improving the recovery of injured visceral nerves - Neuroanatomical specialisation of pelvic sensory and pain pathways - Neuropharmacology of the GDNF family of neurotrophic factors in peripheral nerve regeneration and pain - Sensory functions of the bladder urothelium in a novel co-culture system