Keast & Osborne laboratory: Neural and Bioelectronic Control of Pelvic Organs

Research Overview

View Professor Keast's latest publications listing here and Find an Expert profile here

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

Voiding and reproduction are important human functions that require complex neural reflexes to occur at behaviourally appropriate times. The pelvic nervous system is the neural interface used by the brain to exert control over the pelvic organs and genitalia. 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 expertise  in this field is recognised by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) who fund our work as foreign principal investigators in two research consortia

Strategies for therapeutic neuromodulation of urinary disorders

Our research is

  • determining how the pelvic nervous system develops
  • how it controls complex bodily functions such as voiding or reproduction
  • and how it might be manipulated to provide 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
  • pelvic somatosensory and visceral sensory systems
  • sacral and lumbar spinal cord
  • and connectivity with high order brain centres.

We use advanced neuroanatomical, microscopy, image analysis and neural mapping techniques extensively, but are also expert in other approaches including primary cell culture (including co-cultures of adult neurons and urothelial cells), neurophysiology and neuropharmacology.


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

Dr Adam Blanch, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Microscopy and Anatomy

Dr Calvin Eiber, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Computational Modelling and Neuromodulation

Dr Ilvana Ziko, Research Support Officer, Laboratory Manager

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

Dr Nicole Wiedmann, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Microscopy and Neuroanatomy


Assoc Prof Martin Bertrand, University of Nimes, France

Assoc Prof James Fallon, Bionics Institute, University of Melbourne

Dr Jane Girling, University of Otago, New Zealand

Prof Viviana Gradinaru, Caltech

Prof Warren Grill, Duke University

Prof Leif Havton, Icahn School of Medicine and UCLA

Prof Peter Hunter, University of Auckland

Assoc Prof Joseph Ischia, University of Melbourne and Austin Health

Prof Cathy Mendelsohn, Urology, Pathology & Cell Biology, Columbia University

Dr Sophie Payne, Bionics Institute

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

Dr Doug Strand, University of Texas Southwestern

Dr Alan Watson, University of Pittsburgh

Assoc Prof Chad Vezina, University of Wisconsin – Madison


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, Post Doctor Researchers to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Publications