Keast-Osborne Laboratory: Neural and Bioelectronic Control of Pelvic Organs

Research Overview

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Voiding, reproduction and other human pelvic functions require complex neural control to occur normally at behaviourally appropriate times. Our goal is to help develop neuromodulation and other therapies to treat related human clinical conditions, many of which severely compromise quality of life over long periods.

Our work is  funded  by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) as foreign principal investigators in two research consortia

We are also funded by the Melbourne-CNRS network in partnership with the Chédotal laboratoryOsborne2017Fig1 (Sorbonne Université/INSERM/CNRS, France).

Our research focuses on the pelvic nervous system and how this neural interface is used by the brain to exert control over the pelvic organs and genitalia. We use advanced neuroanatomical, microscopy, image analysis and digital mapping techniques to study the neural control control circuit and target organs—but we are also expert in other approaches including primary cell culture, neurophysiology and neuropharmacology.

Our research is determining

  • how the pelvic nervous system and vasculature develops
  • how neural circuits control complex bodily functions such as voiding or reproduction
  • how can neuromodulation be used as clinical  treatments in diverse medical specialties including urology, gastroenterology, sexual medicine, neurology and pain medicine.

Our multidisciplinary approach uses rodent models and human samples to study the development, anatomy, and function of the pelvic nervous system, which comprises

  • major subdivisions of the parasympathetic and sympathetic autonomic nervous system (focusing on  human inferior hypogastric plexus and rodent major pelvic ganglia)
  • pelvic somatosensory and visceral sensory systems
  • sacral and lumbar spinal cord
  • and connectivity with high order brain centres.


Strategies for therapeutic neuromodulation of urinary disorders


Adam Blanch PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Microscopy and Anatomy

Alicia Yang PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Neuroinformatics and Computational Bioengineering

Anita Peura  PhD, Research  Support Officer

Dain Maxwell, Research  Support Officer

Ilvana Ziko PhD, Research Support Officer, Laboratory Manager

John-Paul Fuller-Jackson PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Microscopy and Neuroanatomy

Jonathon Chan PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Microscopy and Neuroanatomy

Maria Daglas PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Microscopy and Neuroanatomy

Nicole Wiedmann PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Microscopy and Neuroanatomy


Luke Bowden, BBiomedSci Honours Student

Lakindu Jayasuriya, BBiomedSci Honours Student


Assoc Prof Martin Bertrand, University of Nimes, France

Prof  Alain  Chédotal, Sorbonne Université Institut de la Vision, CNRS UMR 7210

Prof James Fallon, Bionics Institute and University of Melbourne

Assoc Prof Jane Girling, University of Otago, New Zealand

Prof Viviana Gradinaru, Caltech

Prof Leif Havton, Icahn School of Medicine and UCLA

Prof Peter Hunter, University of Auckland

Assoc Prof Joseph Ischia, Austin Health and University of Melbourne

Dr Sophie Payne, Bionics Institute and University of  Melbourne

Prof Michelle Southard-Smith, Cell and Developmental Biology, Vanderbilt University

Dr Doug Strand, University of Texas Southwestern

Dr Alan Watson, University of Pittsburgh

Prof Chad Vezina, University of Wiscosin - Madison

University of Melbourne

Prof David Grayden, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr Sam John, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Professor  Scott Mueller, Department of Microbiology and Immunology


University of Melbourne – Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) Network: 2022 Solving the puzzle of the human pelvic plexus: a developmental and multiscale imaging approach

US National Institutes of Health 2021-2026
National Institute of Diabetes Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK); GenitoUrinary Development Molecular Anatomy Project (GUDMAP):
Building a multi-scale vascular atlas of the mouse lower urinary tract

US National Institutes of Health 2016-2022
Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) Common Fund Program:
'Foundational Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs'

NCRIS (National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy) 2014-2021
Phenomics Australia: 
Phenomics Australia Histopathology and Digital Slide Service

US National Institutes of Health 2013-2015
National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK); Nociceptive GenitoUrinary Development Molecular Anatomy Project (nGUDMAP):
Molecular and spatial mapping of bladder nociceptors during development and maturation'

US National Institutes of Health 2011-2016
National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK); GenitoUrinary Development Molecular Anatomy Project (GUDMAP):
'High resolution mapping of lower urinary tract innervation during development'

Research Opportunities

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

Research Publications