• 15 Innovation Walk, Monash University, 75

    3800 Clayton

    Australia

20082019
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Personal profile

Biography

Dr Brent Neumann obtained his BSc (Honours) at the University of South Australia and completed his PhD in Prof Tom Gonda's lab at The University Of Queensland's Diamantina Institute. In 2008 he joined A/Prof Massimo Hilliard's lab at the Queensland Brain Institute studying the mechanisms of degeneration and regeneration in the nervous system. In 2015 Brent established the Nervous System Development and Repair laboratory within the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology at Monash University.

Injuries to the nervous system can cause lifelong disabilities due to ineffective repair. Understanding the basic molecular mechanisms regulating axonal regeneration is therefore essential for the development of effective therapies. As a postdoctoral fellow with Massimo Hilliard, Brent identified a mechanism of repair known as axonal fusion in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (Dev Dyn 2011). This highly efficient means of nervous system repair occurs such that severed axons spontaneously repair themselves by regrowing, reconnecting and fusing with their separated counterparts.

Through a detailed molecular characterisation of the process, Brent discovered that regenerative axonal fusion shares much of its molecular machinery with the process of apoptosis (Nature 2015). Following injury, the composition of the axonal membrane is altered, such that the phospholipid phosphatidylserine is exposed on the external surface to serve as a recognition, or 'save-me' signal for the regrowing axon. This 'save-me' signal is recognized by secreted ligands and receptors on the regrowing axon to allow recognition between the two axon segments. Understanding precisely how axonal fusion occurs in the nematode may allow it to be applied to other organisms and potentially allow similar mechanisms of nervous system repair to be induced in a clinical setting.

Brent's research also focuses on axonal degeneration, which can occur as a result of nerve injury or through the disruption of neuronal maintenance mechanisms, and is a common hallmark among many neurodegenerative disorders including motor neurone, Alzheimer's, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) diseases. We lack a complete understanding of the mechanisms employed by neurons to preserve their axons over a lifetime, which has hampered the development of effective therapies.

From a genetic screening method aimed at identifying molecules that cause axonal degeneration when they become inactive through genetic mutations, Brent found that mutation of the and alpha-tubulin acetyltransferase protein, MEC-17/ATAT1 led to spontaneous, adult onset and progressive axonal degeneration (Cell Rep 2014). MEC-17 is highly conserved across species and normally protects against degeneration by stabilising the cytoskeletal structure. Brent's laboratory in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology aims to identify and characterise additional cellular mechanisms necessary for the maintenance of axonal structure, and also uses C. elegans to model CMT, the most common inherited disorder of the peripheral nervous system. By modelling the disease in C. elegans, novel information about how the disease develops can be identified, and a better understanding of the disease provided to offer valuable insight for the future generation of therapeutics.

 

Research interests

Nervous system development and repair:

  • Cellular and molecular mechanisms of axonal regeneration
  • Molecular mechanisms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Maintenance of nervous system structure over time

Keywords

  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • C. elegans
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • axonal degeneration
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Nervous system repair
  • Neurobiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases/Disorders
  • axon regeneration
  • molecular neuroscience
  • cell biology
  • axonal reconnection
  • cell membrane
  • mitochondria
  • mitochondrial dynamics
  • molecular basis of disease

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Projects 2015 2019

Research Output 2008 2019

Axonal fusion: An alternative and efficient mechanism of nerve repair

Neumann, B., Linton, C., Giordano-Santini, R. & Hilliard, M. A., 1 Feb 2019, In : Progress in Neurobiology. 173, p. 88-101 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
File

Disruption of mitochondrial dynamics affects behaviour and lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans

Byrne, J. J., Soh, M. S., Chandhok, G., Vijayaraghavan, T., Teoh, J-S., Crawford, S., Cobham, A. E., Yapa, N. M. B., Mirth, C. K. & Neumann, B., 6 Mar 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
File

Bridging the gap: Axonal fusion drives rapid functional recovery of the nervous system

Teoh, J-S., Wong, M. Y-Y., Vijayaraghavan, T. & Neumann, B., 1 Apr 2018, In : Neural Regeneration Research. 13, 4, p. 591-594 4 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

Structure, function, and regulation of mitofusin-2 in health and disease

Chandhok, G., Lazarou, M. & Neumann, B., 1 May 2018, In : Biological Reviews. 93, 2, p. 933-949 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

Open Access
File

daf-2 modulates regeneration of mechanosensory neurons I

Abay, Z. C., Wong, M. Y-Y. & Neumann, B., 2017, In : Micropublication: biology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

Open Access

Prizes

ASMR Postgraduate Student Conference poster prize

Brent Neumann (Recipient), 2005

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Best QBI Publication Prize for 2014

Brent Neumann (Recipient), 2014

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Best QBI Publication Prize for 2015

Brent Neumann (Recipient), 2015

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Brisbane Cell and Developmental Biology Meeting oral presentation prize

Brent Neumann (Recipient), 2014

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Conference registration fee fellowship, Madison, USA.

Brent Neumann (Recipient), 2010

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Activities 2008 2015

  • 6 Membership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

ANZSCDB (External organisation)

Brent Neumann (Member)
1 Jan 2015

Activity: Industry, Government and Philanthropy Engagement and PartnershipsMembership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

Australasian Neuroscience Society Inc. (External organisation)

Brent Neumann (Member)
1 Jan 2015

Activity: Industry, Government and Philanthropy Engagement and PartnershipsMembership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN) (External organisation)

Brent Neumann (Member)
1 Oct 2014

Activity: Industry, Government and Philanthropy Engagement and PartnershipsMembership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

Society for Neuroscience (SfN) (External organisation)

Brent Neumann (Member)
1 Jan 2010

Activity: Industry, Government and Philanthropy Engagement and PartnershipsMembership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board

Genetics Society of America (GSA) (External organisation)

Brent Neumann (Member)
25 Mar 2009

Activity: Industry, Government and Philanthropy Engagement and PartnershipsMembership of an advisory panel/policy group/ board