About Dr Catherine Leamey

To understand how the highly specific sets of axonal connections that characterise the adult brain arise during development – this has potential for promoting regeneration following injury

My interest is in developmental neurobiology, axon guidance and plasticity, which is an exciting area that is teaching us how the brain develops.

My work focuses on central issues of the development of mammalian somatosensory and visual pathways and their relationship with the cortex.  As a postdoc at Massachusetts Institute of Technology I performed a microarray screen designed to identify molecules that are differentially expressed between versus somatosensory pathways.  This experiment led to the identification of a number of very promising candidate molecules that we hypothesised may help to regulate the development of the somatosensory and visual pathways.  Since the Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology was established in 2003, our work has focused on characterizing the functional role of one particularly interesting candidate identified in this screen, a transmembrane protein called Ten_m3.  Our recent work using a knockout model of Ten_m3 has shown that this molecule plays a key role in guiding uncrossed retinal axons to their correct termination zones in the brain.  Interestingly, the targeting of crossed retinal projections does not appear to be affected by the absence of Ten_m3.  Our work is exciting and has provided the first evidence for an eye-specific axonal guidance molecule.  We have also used behavioural studies to show that the change in targeting of the ipsilateral axons leads to profound visual deficits which, remarkably, can be reversed by blocking activity from one eye.  This work is currently In Press PLoS Biology.  We are continuing to examine the role of Ten_m3 in the development of the visual pathway and are now also beginning to examine the roles of the other members of the Ten_m family.  The initial microarray study which identified Ten_m3 also identified a number of very other interesting candidate molecules and the laboratory is now also beginning to examine these in more detail.

Selected publications

For a comprehensive list of Dr Leamey's publicatons, please visit her Sydney Medical School profile page.