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 Peregrine's latest publications listing here and Find an Expert profile here

Voiding and reproduction are important human functions that require complex reflexes to occur at behaviourally appropriate times. The pelvic nervous system is the neural interface used by the brain to exert control over the relevant visceral and somatic systems.

Our goal is help develop neuromodulation and other therapies to treat human clinical conditions affecting these functions.

To do this, 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 microscopic imaging and neuroanatomical techniques extensively in our work, but are also expert in other approaches such as primary cell culture (including co-cultures of adult neurons and urothelial cells), cellular neurophysiology and neuropharmacology, and  bioinformatics analysis of specific neural populations.

We are supported by the National Institutes of Health SPARC common fund program and have also contributed to the GenitoUrinary Development Molecular Anatomy Project database (GUDMAP) program funded by the US National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), which aims to provide a fundamental description of the developing kidney and GU tract.


Co-Head of Laboratory

Dr Peregrine Osborne,  Senior Research Fellow

Research staff

Dr Cameron Adams, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Calvin Eiber, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr John-Paul Fuller-Jackson, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Alicia Yang, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Adam Blanch, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Nicole Wiedmann, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Ilvana Ziko, Research Support Officer


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


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

National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) 'Molecular and spatial mapping of bladder nociceptors during development and maturation'

National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) 'High resolution mapping of lower urinary tract innervation during development'

NCRIS (National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy)

NHMRC Project Grant 'Strategies to restore bladder control after peripheral nerve injury'

NHMRC Project Grant 'Spinal cord injury pain: defining mechanisms to develop treatments

Research Publications

    Recent publications

  • Payne SC, Wiedmann NM, Eiber CD, Wong AW, Senn P, Osborne PB, Keast JR, Fallon JB (2020) Recording of electrically-evoked neural activity and bladder pressure responses in awake rats chronically-implanted with a pelvic nerve array. Frontiers in Neuroscience, Special Issue: Translational Side of Emerging Invasive and Non-Invasive Simulation Therapies. 4:619275. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2020.619275
  • Colgrave EM, Bittinger S, Healey M, Dior UP, Rogers PAW, Keast JR, Girling JE and Holdsworth-Carson SJ (2020) Superficial peritoneal endometriotic lesions are histologically diverse and rarely demonstrate menstrual cycle synchronicity with matched eutopic endometrium. Human Reproduction (35(12):2701-2714. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deaa249.
  • Eiber CD, Keast JR, Osborne PB (2020) Simulating bidirectional peripheral neural interfaces in EIDORS. Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc, Jul 2020:2934-2937. doi: 10.1109/EMBC44109.2020.9175921.
  • Wiedmann N, Wong AW, Keast JR, Osborne PB (2020) Sex differences in c-Fos and EGR-1/Zif268 activity maps of rat sacral spinal cord following cystometry-induced micturition. J Comp Neurol5 293:11-326. doi: 10.1002/cne.24949
  • Bertrand MM, Korajkic N, Osborne PB, Keast JR (2020) Functional segregation within the pelvic nerve of male rats: a meso- and microscopic analysis. J Anat 237: 757-773 DOI:10.1111/joa.13221
  • Bertrand MM, Keast JR (2020) Dissection of pelvic autonomic ganglia and associated nerves in male and female rats. J Visual Exper (157). doi: 10.3791/60904.
  • Smith-Anttila CJA, Mason EA, Wells CA, Aronow BJ, Osborne PB, Keast JR (2020) Identification of a sacral, visceral sensory transcriptome in embryonic and adult mice. eNeuro Feb 21;7(1). pii: ENEURO.0397-19.2019. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0397-19.2019.
  • Turco AE, Cadena MT, Zhang HL, Sandhu JK, Oakes SR, Chathurvedula T, PetersonRE, Keast JR, Vezina CM (2019) A temporal and spatial map of axons in the developing mouse prostate, Histochem Cell Biol 152: 35-45.
  • Mendis GDC, Berecki G, Morrisroe E, Pachernegg S, Li M, Varney M, Osborne PB, Reid CA, Halgamuge S, Petrou S. Discovering the pharmacodynamics of conolidine and cannabidiol using a cultured neuronal network based workflow. Scientific Reports 2019;9. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-37138-w.
  • Wong AW, Osborne PB, Keast JR (2018) Axonal injury induces ATF3 in specific populations of sacral preganglionic neurons in male rats. Front Neurosci 12:766
  • Keast JR, Osborne PB (2018) Autonomic Nervous System and Male Reproduction (Volume 1, Chapter 74). In: MK Skinner (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Reproduction, 2nd Ed. Academic Press: Elsevier. Vol 1, pp. 429-435.
  • Hoag N, Keast JR, O’Connell HE (2017) The “G-spot” is not a structure evident on macroscopic anatomic dissection of the vaginal wall. J Sex Med 14:1524-1532
  • J√§nig W, Keast JR, McLachlan EM, Neuhuber WL, Southard-Smith M (2017) Renaming all spinal autonomic outflows as sympathetic is a mistake. Auton Neurosci 206: 60-62
  • Osborne PB. Stimulating bioelectronic medicine discovery for urological disorders. Am J Physiol Renal;313(5): F1133-F1135. DOI: 10.1152/ajprenal.00372.2017.
  • Sidorova, YA, Bespalov MM, Wong AW, Kambur O, Jokinen V, Lilius T, Suleymanova I, Karelson G, Rauhala P, Karelson M, Osborne PB, Keast JR, Kalso E, Saarma M (2017) A novel small molecule GDNF receptor RET agonist, BT13, promotes neurite growth from sensory neurons in vitro and attenuates experimental neuropathy in the rat Front Pharmacol Jun 21;8:365. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2017.00365
  • Keast JR, Smith-Anttila CJ, Osborne PB (2015) Developing a functional urinary bladder: a neuronal context. Front Cell Dev Biol Sep 1;3:53. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2015.00053
  • Georgas KM, Armstrong J, Keast JR, Larkins CE, McHugh KM, Southard-Smith EM, Cohn MJ, Batourina E, Dan H, Schneider K, Beuhler DP, Wiese CB, Brennan J, Davies J, Harding SD, Baldock RA, Little MH*, Vezina CM*, Mendelsohn C* (equal last authors) (2015). An illustrated anatomical ontology of the developing mouse lower urogenital tract. Development 142, 1893-1908