Dr Marlene Hao
Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience,
The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010

Title: "Development and plasticity of the enteric nervous system"


Proper development and function of the digestive tract is crucial for good health. Gastrointestinal function relies on the co-ordinated activity of neural circuits in the enteric nervous system, a network of neurons and glia located within the wall of the gut. All the cells of the enteric nervous system arise from neural crest cells that emigrate from the neural tube and migrate into and along the developing gut, differentiating to form all the different subtypes of enteric neurons and glia. Our research is focused on the mechanisms controlling the development and plasticity of the enteric nervous system. During my PhD and postdoc, I investigated how enteric neural precursors acquire neuronal characteristics during embryonic development, and in addition, how enteric neurons begin to communicate with each other and the surrounding gut environment. More recently, our lab has been studying the plasticity of the enteric nervous system in adulthood. The enteric nervous system is not a static organisation, but exhibits plasticity in many ways, including neurotransmission during the 24-hour circadian cycle. Enteric glial cells are also a highly plastic population of cells, and we are investigating the potential of enteric glial cells as a source of neural stem cells, the mechanisms controlling glial proliferation in the adult nervous system, and the application of these pathways to protect against gliomas. 


About Neuroscience Seminars

Neuroscience seminars at the QBI play a major role in the advancement of neuroscience in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary goal of these seminars is to promote excellence in neuroscience through the exchange of ideas, establishing new collaborations and augmenting partnerships already in place.

Seminars in the QBI Auditorium on Level 7 are held on Wednesdays at 12-1pm, which are sometimes simulcast on Zoom (with approval from the speaker). We also occassionally hold seminars from international speakers via Zoom. The days and times of these seminars will vary depending on the time zone of the speaker. Please see each seminar listed below for details. 


Neuroscience Seminars archive 2005-2018