Mazzone laboratory: Respiratory Sensory Neuroscience

Research Overview

In the respiratory system, sensory neurons are critical for the ongoing physiological control of breathing as well as protecting against potentially damaging stimuli that could adversely affect ventilation. Their disordered activity contributes to symptoms such as coughing, dyspnoea and hyperreactivity which are characteristic of many lung diseases. Although respiratory sensory neurons are known to be functionally heterogeneous, very little is known about the molecular characteristics that define distinct populations. Their connectivity within the central neural circuits that modulate sensation and behaviours are also poorly described.

The Mazzone laboratory is internationally recognised for their work in the field of cough and respiratory sensation.  We have led the field in describing neural processes that regulate sensory-evoked reflexes and behaviours (summarised in; Mazzone and Undem, Physiological Reviews, 2016).  We recently discovered that respiratory sensory neurons originating within two embryologically distinct cranial ganglia of the vagus nerves (known as the jugular and nodose vagal ganglia) display very different neural connections within the central nervous system. We are now pursuing the functional significance of this discovery using transcriptomic profiling to better describe the molecular characteristics of respiratory sensory neurons, viral tract tracing and modern molecular physiology to understand the organisation of function circuits in the brain and human functional brain imaging to assess plasticity in the central nervous system in patients with disease.  We have a keen interest in how these pathways change during influenza viral infections and other causes of lung morbidity and more recently we have become interested in how vagal sensory neurons actively regulate viral-induced lung inflammation.

In the media


Prof Stuart Mazzone talks coughing with ABC Radio

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Eavesdrop on Experts: The Science of Coughing 


The good cough and the bad cough: Treating coughs in a more targeted way

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Team leaders: Dr Alice McGovern and Dr Aung Aung Kywe Moe

Alice McGovern

Dr Alice McGovern, NHMRC Research Fellow

Research interests: Neuroinflammatory cross talk in viral infections, Mapping CNS pathways mediating respiratory sensations, Sensory neuron transcriptional profiling.

View Dr Alice McGovern’s publications here and Find an Expert Profile here


Dr Aung Aung Kywe Moe, Postdoctoral Researcher

Research interests: Advanced genetic models and molecular physiology, functional brain imaging in humans, Developmental and disease plasticity in sensory pathways.

View Dr Aung Aung Kywe Moe’s publications here and Find an Expert Profile here.

  • Matthew Trewella, Laboratory Manager
  • Jennifer Keller, PhD student
  • Alexa Prawdiuk, PhD student
  • Robert Behrens, MPhil student


Associate Professor Jason Ivanusic

Professor Janet Keast

Professor Andrew Allen

Professor Gary Anderson

Dr Kirsty Short, University of Queensland

Dr Andrea Harrington, Flinders University

Associate Professor Mathias Dutschmann, Florey Institutes

Associate Professor Matthew Ritchie, WEHI

Associate Professor Michael Farrell Monash University

Professor Bradley Undem, Johns Hopkins University

Professor Fan Chung, Imperial College London

Professor Lorcan McGarvey Queens College Belfast

Research Publications

See ORCiD for a listing of  Professor Mazzone's publications.