Translational Neuroscience Facility

About the TNF

The Translational Neuroscience Facility (TNF) is a core neuroscience research platform in the School of Medical Sciences at the University of New South Wales. The TNF broadly supports neuroscience research and advanced translational research training in the School of Medical Sciences directed towards treatment of neurological disorders.

Collaborating teams embedded within the TNF focus on translating basic neuroscience discovery to therapeutic applications.  Research themes include hearing loss, leukodystrophies (genetic disorders that affect the CNS white matter),  spinal injury repair,  neuroimmunological basis of neuropathic pain (seeking new treatments for nerve injury), CNS neural plasticity underlying memory & addiction, novel therapeutic approaches for reducing brain injury from stroke and brain trauma.  Collaborative funding with other groups within Brain Sciences UNSW extend CNS applications to the field of epilepsy and neurodegeneration research (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s).

Novel therapeutics initiatives emerging from the TNF include the development of ‘close-field electroporation gene delivery’, which shows promise for ‘dial-up’ localized gene therapy across the peripheral, autonomic and central nervous systems.  With Industry partner support from Cochlear Ltd, proof of principle was achieved with cochlear implants, where electric field focusing of the bionic electrode arrays produced controlled delivery of a therapeutic neurotrophin gene cassette within the cochlea.  This pre-clinical model drove regeneration of the auditory nerve and improved cochlear implant performance. The program has secured NHMRC funding to migrate this program to a clinical trial in collaboration with groups at the UNSW Australia Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, The Bionics Institute (University of Melbourne), University of Sydney, Macquarie University and Cochlear Ltd.  Other preclinical translational initiatives include the development of a viral vector platform for cell specific gene expression to treat leukodystrophies, and a new therapeutic strategy for suppressing neural signalling driving propagation of brain injury in Stroke.

The translational platform incorporates complementary gene delivery technologies (including a viral vector core and proprietary close-field electroporation); cellular and intravital brain imaging; electrophysiology (including patch-clamp, audiometry, nerve excitability and electromyography/nerve conduction); bionics (e.g. cochlear implants).

Research teams within the TNF are:

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TNF lab members at work

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News & Events

  • November 2015:  Dr Gila Moalem-Taylor wins a Posgraduate Committee prize for excellence in supervision of students.
  • August 2015: TNF lab lunch to farewell Kris, a Postdoc with us for 5 years who has had a Nature Communications article published recently and is moving home to England.

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  • August 2015: Understanding the Function of Glia in the Healthy and Diseased CNS: Tushar Issar presenting

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  • June 2015: TNF and CSP BBQ 

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  • May 2015:  Nature communications article published!
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  • May 2015:Chamini, Justin and Preet presenting posters at the 5thInternational Congress on Neuropathic Pain, Nice France

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  • May 2015: Congratulations to Kurt Daley for receiving the University Medal in Neuroscience.  
  • March 2015:  The SoMS Research Support Committee is delighted to announce the following ‘Paper of the Month’ for March 2015 a study by

    Chamini J Perera, Samuel S Duffy, Justin G Lees, Cristina F Kim, Barbara Cameron, Vasso Apostolopoulos and Gila Moalem-Taylor “Active immunization with myelin-derived altered peptide ligand reduces mechanical pain hypersensitivity following peripheral nerve injury”Journal of Neuroinflammation doi: 10.1186/s12974-015-0253-4.

    This is Chamini’s first publication from her PhD studies with Neuropathic pain research group.

    The study was the first to identify the effects of active immunisation with myelin derived altered peptide ligand (APL) on neuropathic pain following peripheral nerve injury. We found that immune deviation by active immunisation with a non-encephalitogenic myelin-derived APL mediates an analgesic effect in neuropathic animals. Although the underlying mechanisms remain unknown, our results suggest that modulating neuroinflammation by decreased infiltration of T cells and macrophages, upregulation of anti-inflammatory macrophages in the injured nerve, and upregulation of splenic regulatory T cells are all possible explanations. These findings suggest the potential application of immunisation with myelin-derived APL for the treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain.

  • Congratulations to Dr Renee Morris on her well deserved promotion to Senior Lecture
  • Congratulations to Andrew Tosolini who was awarded a prize for best student poster presentation at the International Motoneuron Meeting, Sydney 2012

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  • Congratulations to Ria Arnold for receiving The Novartis Award for best free communication at the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists Clinical Physiology Workshop
  • Congratulations to Dr Arun Krishnan on his well deserved promotion to Associate Professor
  • Congratulations to Dr Renee Morris and Dr Cindy Lin on receiving the 2011 Spinal Cord Injury Awards from the Brain Foundation.

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  • Dr Jennie Cederholm received the Mark A. Smith prize for 2010 for her paper “Conformational changes in extracellular loop 2 associated with signal transduction in the glycine receptor” Cederholm, Absalom, Sugiharto, Griffith, Schofield, and Lewis (2010), J. of Neurochemistry 115, 1245-1255. Dr. Jennie Cederholm accepted the award at the Megaron Athens International conference centre on Sunday 28th August, 2011 from the Chief Editor (Rest of the World) of the Journal of Neurochemistry, Jörg B. Schulz.

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  • Further information on studies in diabetes taking place at the TNF, please follow the link to a recent ABC News interview with Arun Krishnan
  • Congratulations to Natalie Kwai who was awarded the Staff Prize for Health and Exercise Science of the School of Medical Sciences. This prize recognises her success in achieving the highest mark in the Health and Exercise Science Stage 4 Research Project. Natalie is currently undertaking a PhD in the TNF on axonal dysfunction in diabetes.

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  • National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
  • Australian Research Council (ARC)
  • Cochlear Ltd
  • NSW Office for Science and Medical Research (OSMR)
  • Brain Foundation
  • Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
  • Ramaciotti Foundation
  • Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  • Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (DFG)
  • European Leukodystrophy Association (ELA)
  • European Commission FP7
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Former Staff/Alumni