Natural cell death is a well-documented aspect of normal development of the peripheral nervous system. Similarly, some neuronal populations in the central nervous system (CNS) experience varying amounts of developmental cell death.

The underlying mechanisms, however, are poorly understood. For his thesis, recent Perron Institute/UWA PhD graduate Dr Jamie Beros studied this aspect of nervous system development, focusing on retinal ganglion cells within the retina of the eye.

“This is a population of CNS neurons known to undergo naturally occurring cell death in the prenatal and early postnatal period,” he said.

“I found that death of these neurons did not depend on the accuracy of their connections in the brain and that there was a complex interplay between the age of neurons and their reliance on supportive factors secreted by the brain.”

“I want to acknowledge my supervisors Associate Professor Jennifer Rodger and Emeritus Professor Alan Harvey for their support and mentorship during my PhD,” Dr Beros said. “Similar thanks go to my family and friends for their support.

“I acknowledge, also, the Australian Government, The University of Western Australia, the Neurotrauma Research Program, the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science, and Professor Robyn Owens for providing additional funding and institutional support throughout my candidature.”

During his PhD studies, Dr Beros interned at Neurocentre Magendie at the University of Bordeaux in France for six months, learning how to design and conduct experiments using optogenetic stimulation. This is a cutting-edge technique that uses light to directly control the activity of specific populations of neurons in the brain. Based on this experience, he is now involved in developing the first optogenetics platform in WA for its application in neuroscience research.

“This work is really exciting as it will increase the research capacity of neuroscience research in WA and provide students with the opportunity to acquire additional cutting-edge experimental skills,” he said.

Dr Beros is working with Dr Alex Tang and Ms Emily King (Perron Institute/UWA) investigating neuromodulatory interventions and the effects on neuroplasticity.

Congratulations, Dr Beros!