Dr Bryony Nayagam

 - Associate Investigator

Research focus: Development of regenerative therapies for hearing loss

A/Prof Nayagam heads the Auditory Neuroscience Unit at the University of Melbourne and conducts experimental research at the Bionics Institute in East Melbourne. She completed post-doctoral training at Harvard and Johns Hopkins as part of a Victoria Fellowship awarded in 2007 and subsequently received an NHMRC Peter Doherty Fellowship to continue her research in Melbourne. She presently holds a four year Research Fellowship from the Garnett Passe and Rodney Williams Memorial Foundation.  

The goal of her program of research is to reverse the deafness-induced loss of auditory neurons, using stem cells as a source of replacement cells. A key step toward this goal is to determine whether these stem cell-derived neurons are capable of functional integration in the deaf auditory pathway, and whether their integration can be enhanced following electrical stimulation from a cochlear implant. Successful replacement of damaged auditory neurons will have widespread health benefits by increasing the numbers of suitable candidates for cochlear implantation and by improving the benefits currently derived from this prosthesis. Other research interests include directed differentiation into cochlear sensory cell types for disease modelling (hair cells) and transplantation (auditory neurons) purposes. 

Projects under this research theme involve multi-disciplinary, cross-institutional collaborations between A/Prof Mirella Dottori (University of Wollongong), A/Prof James Fallon (Bionics Institute) and Dr Rebecca Lim (University of Newcastle). Areas of technical expertise include: in vivo cell transplantation and cochlear implantation, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, behavioural analysis, synaptic and general immunohistochemistry, embryonic tissue dissection and co-culture models, directed stem cell differentiation, confocal microscopy.