Stamp & Hao laboratory: Plasticity of the enteric nervous system

Research Overview

View Dr Stamp's latest publications listing here and Find an Expert profile here

View Dr Hao's latest publications listing here and Find an Expert profile here


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. During development, enteric neurons arise from neural crest cells that emigrate from the caudal hindbrain and migrate into and along the developing gut, differentiating to form all the different subtypes of enteric neurons and glial cells. Our research is focused on the mechanisms controlling the development of the enteric nervous system, its plasticity in adulthood, and the potential of cell therapy for treating diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

Gastrointestinal motility disorders arise from many different causes, including defects in the enteric nervous system. For example, Hirschsprung’s disease is a congenital disorder where enteric neurons are missing from the caudal region of the bowel. Our lab is currently investigating the efficacy of transplanting pluripotent stem cells in a pre-clinical model of Hirschsprung’s disease.

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. In addition, enteric glial cells are a highly plastic population of cells in the gut, and we are investigating the potential of enteric glial cells as a source of neural stem cells. Read more about our research on glial cells from the gut and their protection against aggressive cancer development which is supported by Cure Cancer and the Can Too Foundation.


Dr Lincon Stamp, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Marlene Hao, ARC DECRA Fellow

Ms Annette Bergner, Senior Research Assistant


Ms Anita Leembruggen, PhD student

Ms Eve Rowland, Masters in Biomedical Science student

Ms Jiaxin Wei, Masters in Science (Bioinformatics) student


Associate Professor Sebastian King, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne

Professor Kate Drummond, Royal Melbourne Hospital

Professor Pieter Vanden Berghe, KU Leuven, Belgium

Dr Werend Boesmans, Hasselt University, Belgium

Dr Geoff Kohn, Monash University/Cabrini Health

Professor Christine Wells, University of Melbourne

Professor John Furness, University of Melbourne

Professor Joel Bornstein, University of Melbourne

Dr Jaime Foong, University of Melbourne

Dr Theo Mantamadiotis, University of Melbourne

Professor Hans Clevers, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Associate Professor Helen Abud, Monash University

Professor Andrew Allen, University of Melbourne Associate


2021-2024 Takeda Pharmaceuticals Research Grant. Development of therapies for neuropathies that compromise digestive function

2020-2021 Takeda Pharmaceuticals COCKPI-T Research Award. Developing a novel cell therapy approach to treating upper GI motility disorders

2020-2022 Cancer Australia PdCCRS Early Career Research Grant. A gut feeling about new therapies for glioma greatment: lessons from the Enteric Nervous System

2020-2022 Cure Cancer Jennifer Eggins Trust Research Grant. Ribocop: ribosomal proteins as cancer protectors.

2019-2020 REACHirschsprung’s Project Grant. Modelling a beginning-to-end preclinincal cell therapy approach to treat Hirschsprung disease

2019-2023 ARC Discovery Early Career Research AwardGenes underlying enteric neuron subtype differentiation

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science, Post Doctor Researchers to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Projects

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Biomedical Neuroscience, Stem Cells

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Joint Heads of Laboratory Dr Lincon Stamp & Dr Marlene Hao

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Physiology

Unit / Centre

Stamp & Hao laboratory: Plasticity of the enteric nervous system

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