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Head of Research Lab
Assoc Prof Jennifer Rodger
An Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow in Experimental and Regenerative Neurosciences in the School of Animal Biology at the University of Western Australia, Jennifer Rodger holds degrees from the University of Bath and University Pierre et Marie Curie in France. After a period as a postdoctoral fellow at the Weizmann Institute (Israel) and the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), Jenny moved to UWA to work with Professors Lyn Beazley and Sarah Dunlop in the field of neural regeneration where she currently leads a research team studying brain plasticity. Her most recent work focuses on the use of pulsed magnetic fields to promote neural circuit reorganisation and repair.
Dr Jamie Beros
Jamie was awarded his PhD in 2020 from the University of Western Australia under the supervision of Associate Professor Jennier Rodger and Emeritus Professor Alan Harvey, investigating the mechanisms underlying developmental retinal ganglion cell death in the mouse and rat. Currently he is working with Dr Alex Tang’s research group at UWA investigating neuromodulatory interventions and their effects on synaptic and axonal plasticity in cortical neurons. During his PhD, he completed an internship at the University of Bordeaux (Neurocentre Magendie, France) using optogenetics to investigate the role of adult born neurons in fear memories under the supervision of Dr Muriel Koehl. From this experience, he is now in the process of setting up the first optogenetics platform in WA for in vivo and in vitro experimental use.
Ms Aleksandra Miljevic is an Early Career Researcher (0 – 1 year’s post PhD). She has clinical trial experience in mental health populations as a result of completing her PhD at Monash University (03/2018 to 11/2023), where she conducted innovative research in individuals with depression investigating the relationship between changes in brain functional connectivity and treatment response. She has worked with a range of experts (psychiatrists, data statisticians, and healthcare professionals) to improve the quality of functional connectivity biomarker measurement for the prediction of TMS treatment response by optimising the robustness of electroencephalograph techniques. She has experience in clinical research trials utilising neuromodulation and neurophysiology techniques, and is trained in administering clinical interviews, behavioural and cognitive tasks in different patient populations (i.e., OCD, GAD).
Kerry studied Neuroscience and Philosophy at the University of Western Australia and has subsequent experience in scientific research, specifically in the field of neuroplasticity and rTMS. She has broad experience through different stages of research including lab based experiments, the life cycle of clinical trial development (human ethics and governance applications, liaising with stakeholders, recruitment, patient interaction, blood collection) and subsequent sample processing, data analysis and writing of grant and ethics applications. She has been a core facilitator in the current clinical trial ran by the lab using a novel repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation protocol in patients with depression in collaboration with the North Metropolitan Health Service (NMHS).
Marissa graduated from UWA in 2005 with BSc majoring in zoology and first-class honours, partly supervised by the young Dr Jenny Rodger. After a brief period as a PhD candidate Marissa decided academic life wasn’t for her and began working as a research assistant. Since then, She has loved providing support and training for staff and students and helping others achieve their research goals. Marissa is step mum to 3, Mum to 1 and wife to one human man. Her hobbies include crafting, trying to grow vegetables and building lab equipment in
Emily is a first year PhD candidate in the brain plasticity lab interested in activity-dependent neuronal plasticity, with a specific emphasis on axonal plasticity. Currently, her research is focused on plasticity at the axon initial segment (AIS), the region of the neuron responsible for generating the electrical signals neurons use to communicate. By using different techniques of brain stimulation to induce AIS plasticity, she hopes to expand our understanding of how neuronal excitability can be modulated and develop novel therapeutic strategies to target AIS dysfunction in neurological disease and disorders.
“I am a current honours student undertaking a research project that forms a collaboration between the Experimental and Regenerative Neurosciences Lab and Burn Injury Research Unit at UWA. My interest is in understanding the long-term consequences burn injuries can have on the brain, with a focus on characterising the effects of burns on neural plasticity.”
“I am a PhD student currently undertaking a research project under the supervision of Associate Professor Jennifer Rodger and Adjunct Professor Bruno Meloni at UWA and Perron Institute. My research focusses on using two different treatments, a brain stimulation technique called rTMS and a drug called R18 to potentially increase neural plasticity during critical period of early development.”
Twain Dai is a PhD student at UWA and the Perron Institute. Her research will explore a precision medicine approach to identify clinically useful MRI biomarkers that predict susceptibility and guide neuromodulation for depression. Her project will take a novel approach of studying in parallel: preclinical rodent models in which the onset of depression-like symptoms can be controlled and human clinical trials. The main aim of her project is to build an evidence base for applying multimodal MRI to guide prevention and precision neuromodulation for depression through integrating preclinical and clinical streams.
Brad is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Assoc/Prof. Jennifer Rodger, Prof. Anthony Akkari, and Prof Sean Hood at UWA and the Perron Institute. His research focuses on evaluating the clinical application of pharmacogenetic testing and non-invasive brain stimulation in the treatment of youth mental health, to ultimately streamline young people with depression and/or anxiety onto more personalised treatments.
Luca is a Masters student under the supervision of UWA Associate Professors Dominique Blache and Jennifer Rodger. His research interests lie in ultradian rhythms, which are endogenous cycles of physiological and neurological activity that have a rhythmicity of <24 hours. The main ultradian rhythm of interest is body temperature, where small fluctuations occur every few hours. These rhythms in body temperature have been previously linked to changes in locomotor behaviour and preparedness to act. Luca will be investigating how ultradian fluctuations in body temperature affect neuronal excitability, and will also investigate which region of the brain these rhythms are generated from.
My project aims to validate and explore the potential for rTMS as a method of treatment for treatment resSam’s BioZone PhD has both research and translational aspects. His research aims to validate and explore the potential for rTMS as a method of treatment for treatment resistant depression using computer simulation, MRI analyses and biochemical assays. He firstly aim to obtain in-depth information on brain changes induced by LI-rTMS and its potential for treatment of TRD by conducting MRI analyses on animal models. Secondly, he will quantify the effects various TMS parameters have on depression related molecular pathways through various enzyme based biochemical assay experiments. Finally, he will produce computer simulations to model the stimulatory and neuroplastic effects induced by rTMS electrical fields in the brain by using the finite element method and Hodgkin-Huxley compartmental cellular and network models. Regarding the translational aspects of Sam’s work, he has successfully completed a number of commercialisation courses including the Perth Biodesign for Medtech course where he pitched my team’s technology opportunity to over 90 Life Science investors, companies and commercialisation professionals at the final pitch night held at the City of Perth Council House in 2021. Sam aims to apply the Stanford Biodesign Innovation Process to develop a novel TMS device or procedure in hopes of alleviating the symptoms of sufferers of treatment-resistant depression.
Lauren is a third year PhD candidate at UWA and the Perron Institute, with a background in both psychology and neuroscience. Her research involves using a non-invasive form of brain stimulation for treating depression, known as ‘low-intensity rTMS’. This technique is painless, non-invasive, and can be used to help patients that do not respond to medications or therapy. Lauren’s research aims to help us understand more about how the treatment works on a biological level, using a variety of means such as MRI, neurogenesis, blood markers, and collaborations with the hospital. More importantly, her research also aims to improve upon the current method already being used in clinics, to make the treatment as effective and accessible for patients as possible.
Dr Alex Tang
Alex completed a PhD in neuroscience in 2017 under A/Prof. Jennifer Rodger before moving to Okinawa, Japan as a post-doctoral research scholar with Asst.Prof Marylka Uusisaari (Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology). He returned to UWA on a combined lecturing and research position at the end of 2018. Alex is currently a Sarich Family Research Fellow, and in 2023 founded the Healthy Brain Ageing and Repair Lab at UWA and the Perron Institute. His lab aims to understand the role of ageing on essential neurological functions such as learning and memory, as well as the cellular mechanisms underlying age-related neurological disorders (e.g., stroke). Using this knowledge, the lab hopes to develop novel interventions that can promote healthy brain ageing or treat age-related neurological disorders to ensure a high quality of life in older age.
Jessica is currently completing the third year of her PhD at UWA and the Perron Institute. Her research focusses on brain stimulation, particularly low-intensity repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), and how it can affect cognition and dopamine related behaviours such as motivation and attention. Her research investigates behavioural and cellular changes following stimulation, particularly looking at how and where rTMS modulated cellular activity. Techniques include human behavioural experiments using tACS, rTMS and EMG; behavioural experiments with operant boxes; and advanced immunofluorescence techniques and analysis.
Matt is a former Masters Student with a background in Physiology and Neuroscience. After spending the past two years working in the clinical trial space, he returned to fundamental research. His project investigated how repetitive magnetic stimulation (rMS) alters glial cell secretions, activity, and survivability. Specifically, if these alterations have applications as treatments in models of Multiple Sclerosis.
Bhedita’s research focuses on studying the mechanisms of brain stimulation in animal models using similar techniques as in human studies (e.g., MRI). An improved basic understanding of mechanism will help tailor personalised treatment protocols to suit particular individuals and therefore, increase the therapeutic efficacy of this treatment.
Darren completed his postgraduate studies in the Rodger lab at UWA. His research interests are brain plasticity and glial cells, and his PhD research examined the effects of rTMS on cortical astrocytes in various experimental models. Darren is currently a postdoc in Montreal examining astrocyte contributions to hippocampal interneuron activity
Katherine joined the Rodger lab as an Honours student in 2015 where she studied how low intensity rTMS influenced corticospinal excitability in healthy adults. She started her PhD in 2016, which focussed on investigating the effect of a music-motor therapy, GotRhythm, on corticospinal excitability and motor control in healthy young and older adults and stroke-survivors. Katherine completed her PhD in 2021 and is now studying to become a secondary science teacher where she hopes to encourage young people’s interest in Neuroscience and research.
“I am currently completing my honours in an interdisciplinary neuro-engineering project. I am involved in the Experimental and Neurodegenerative Lab, and Britelab at The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. My projects focus is in establishing a new technique to image the mechanical properties of the brain. This could help progress further studies in treatments such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.
Inês Costa Shrubsall
Inês completed her Master of Biomedical (Neuroscience) at the University of Western Australia in 2022. In the past, she has had the opportunity to intern at the Paediatric Neurooncology Lab at the Texas Children’s Hospital in the United States and in the Haematology Department of the Portuguese Institute of Oncology in Lisbon.During her masters, Inês investigated the effect of brain stimulation on visual perception in humans under the supervision of Associate Prof. Jenny Rodger and PhD student Jessica Moretti. She hopes to progress this research into rehabilitation strategies for patients with visuomotor conditions.
In 2021 Holly graduated from UWA with a BSc majoring in Neuroscience and Science Communication. In 2022 she undertook her honours project under the supervision of Dr Jamie Beros. Her project focused on investigating the efficacy of rTMS to treat mood disorders in adolescent populations, as previous research has focused on adults. She also had the opportunity to gain experience in using optogenetic techniques to analyse the underlying circuitry affected by rTMS treatment.
“Cassandra was an honours student in 2022 working with Associate Professors Jennifer Rodger, Adam Wittek, and Dr Alex Tang to explore transcranial magnetic stimulation. She investigated the interaction of grey and white matter with magnetic fields to improve modelling within brain stimulation. Her project further looked into new magnetic stimulations intensities, and how they affect brain activity in different areas of the brain.