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Autonomic & Sensory Neurotransmission Laboratory

Autonomic Sensory Neurotransmission Laboratory and Pulmonary Neurobiology Laboratory Staff in 2013

We study the microscopic structure and function of the nerves that control and monitor the activity of the internal organs, as well as specialised regions of the skin. Many of these pathways detect and react to painful stimuli such as tissue damage or inflammation. We also examine how circulating hormones, such as angiotensin II, interact with these neural pathways.
We use a wide variety of techniques to study nerve cells and their communication with each other. We use state-of-the-art microscopes to examine the detailed connections between nerve cells in specific pathways, such as the autonomic nerves regulating gut activity or sensory nerves from the female genital tract. These results then allow us to generate computerized reconstructions of nerve cells and their pathways. We directly observe the behaviour of neurotransmitters or hormones as they interact with neurons, and combine these observations with measurements of electrical activity of the neurons. Together, these observations let us determine how chemical messengers influence the activity of other nerve cells, including those that respond to painful stimuli.
Our new results are helping us to redefine how these neural pathways operate so effectively in a wide range of conditions associated with health and disease. In addition, they can provide a strong framework to identify and investigate new avenues for therapeutic treatments of chronic pain associated with tissue damage and inflammation.


Ian L Gibbins, BSc(Hons), PhD, FilDr(hc)
Christine Barry, BAppSc, PhD, MPhysio
Yvette DeGraaf, BMed, PharmBiotech(Hons), Cell Biology Facilities Manager
Patricia Vilimas, Senior Technical Officer
Catherine Truman, Artist-in-Residence


Garreth Kestell, BMSc(Hons), PhD Student (co-supervised with Rainer Haberberger, Pain & Pulmonary Neurobiology Laboratory)
Alexander Carroll, BMSc, Honours Student (co-supervised with Rainer Haberberger, Pain & Pulmonary Neurobiology Laboratory)
Shane Rix, BMSc, Honours Student (co-supervised with Rainer Haberberger, Pain & Pulmonary Neurobiology Laboratory)


Prof Ian Gibbins

Ph: (08) 8204 5271
Int Ph: +61 8 8204 5271
Fax: (08) 8277 0085
Int Fax: +61 8 8277 0085
Email: ian.gibbins@flinders.edu.au
University Profile Page


Research Projects

Collaborative Research

Robert Phiddian (English, Flinders University): Neuroscience and the analysis of responses to satire in political cartoons and literature.

Teresa Crea (Theatre producer), Ross Gibson (Professor of Contemporary Arts, Sydney), Marcello Costa (Human Physiology, Flinders University): Human exposure - Neuroscience and narrative in digital media.

Recent Media Appearances

Chris Barry and Yvette DeGraaf - Channel 7 News, High tech tools to treat pain, 2013: http://au.news.yahoo.com/video/sa/watch/20f71e0c-2187-3353-97d7-cd118e1fa12a/high-tech-tools-to-treat-pain/

Selected Recent Publications

Colella AD, Chegenii N, Tea MN, Gibbins IL, Williams KA, Chataway TK (2012) Comparison of Stain-Free gels with traditional immunoblot loading control methodology. Analytical Biochemistry, 430(2):108-10

Gibbins IL (2012) Peripheral Autonomic Pathways. In The Human Nervous System, JK Mai & G Paxinos, eds. London, UK. Academic Press, pp141-185

Bastian I, Tam Tam S, Zhou XF, Kazenwadel J, Van der Hoek M, Michael MZ, Gibbins I, Haberberger RV (2011) Differential expression of microRNA-1 in dorsal root ganglion neurons. Histochemistry and Cell Biology, 135(1):37-45

Mair N, Benetti C, Andratsch M, Leitner MG, Constantin CE, Camprubí-Robles M, Quarta S, Biasio W, Kuner R, Gibbins IL, Kress M, Haberberger RV (2011) Genetic evidence for involvement of neuronally expressed S1P1 receptor in nociceptor sensitization and inflammatory pain. PLoS One, 6(2):e17268

Yuan SY, Gibbins IL, Zagorodnyuk VP, Morris JL (2011) Sacro-lumbar intersegmental spinal reflex in autonomic pathways mediating female sexual function. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8(7):1931-42

Vilimas PI, Yuan SY, Haberberger RV, Gibbins IL (2011) Sensory Innervation of the External Genital Tract of Female Guinea Pigs and Mice.Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8(7):1985-95

Schirmer S, Eckhardt I, Klein J, Lau H, DeGraaf Y, Lips KS, Pineau C, Gibbins IL, Kummer W, Meinhardt A, Haberberger RV (2011) The cholinergic system in rat testis is of non-neuronal origin. Reproduction, 142(1):157-66

Morris JL, Gibbins IL (2009) Postganglionic Neurotransmitter, in Encyclopedia of Neuroscience ,eds Binder MD, Hirokawa N, Windhorst U, Springer, Berlin - Heidelberg, Part 16, pp 3202 - 3207 (DOI 10.1007/978-3-540-29678-2_4695)

Ruthenbeck GS, Carati CJ, Gibbins IL, Reynolds KJ (2008) A virtual reality 3D jigsaw for teaching anatomy. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 132:436-8

Blessing WW & Gibbins IL (2008) Autonomic Nervous system. Scholarpedia, 3(7):2787 http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Autonomic_nervous_system

Gibbins IL (2008) Poem "Beanie on the Moon" in Friendly Street Reader, 32

Gibbins IL (2008) Essay: "body, brain and the new science of communication: turns of phrase, figures of speech"; Australian Book Review / Flinders University 2007 Annual Public Lecture. Australian Book Review, 301: 54-58

Gibbins IL (2008) Poem "esplanade" in Blast, 7

Gibbins IL (2008) Poem "field guide" , selected for Best Australian Poems 2008, ed P Rose, Black Inc Press

Gibbins IL ( 2008) Poem "local knowledge" in Page Seventeen, 6 (second place in annual poetry prize)

Gibbins IL (2008) Poem "middle of the road" in Blast, 7

Gibbins IL (2008) Poem "rules for interior design" in Blue Dog, 7 (14)

Gibbins IL (2008) “The B-word”: Review of Mirroring People: The new science of how we connect with others by Marco Iacoboni; The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics and human understanding by Mark Johnson; The Stuff of Thought: Language as a window into human nature by Stephen Pinker; and Mirrors in the Brain: How our minds share actions, emotions and experience by Giacomo Rizzolatti and Corrado Sinigaglia. Australian Book Review, 306:46-47

Gibbins IL (2008) Poem "turtledove" in P age Seventeen, 6

Gibbins IL (2008) Poem "types of rain" in Going Down Swinging, 27



Updated October 16, 2013