Dr Sean Coakley

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Queensland Brain Institute
+61 7 334 66384


In 2009 I completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours at The University of Queensland, working in the lab of Professor Linda Richards at The Queensland Brain Institute. In late 2009 I joined the laboratory of Associate Professor Massimo Hilliard to undertake a PhD studying genes involved in nerve regeneration and degeneration in C. elegans. The goal of my PhD was to discover novel genes involved in this process and understand how they function to regulate axonal regeneration and degeneration following injury. Following my PhD in 2016 I was awarded an NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellowship to pursue postdoctoral research in Associate Professor Hilliard's lab with the aim of discovering novel genes that regulate axonal degeneration in C. elegans.

Research Interests

  • Axonal Degeneration
    Degeneration of the axon, the longest process of a neuron, is a key early pathological hallmark of Neurodegenerative conditions, including motor neuron disease, glaucoma, and Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.  Despite being described more than 100 years ago, we lack a basic understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating axonal degeneration. Using the small nematode worm C. elegans, a very powerful genetic model system, we aim to discover molecules with a protective effect on the axon. The results from this study will provide novel and important insights into how axonal degeneration occurs, and how it can be prevented or delayed, potentially leading to the identification of novel molecular targets to treat neurodegenerative disorders.

Research Impacts

Neurodegenerative conditions pose one of the biggest health challenges facing Australia in the 21st century, given the rapidly increasing aged population. Axonal degeneration is a key early event in the pathogenesis of these conditions that precedes neuronal loss. Despite being described more than 100 years ago, we lack a basic understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate axonal degeneration, knowledge that is essential for the development of treatments and therapies for neurodegenerative conditions and the preservation of healthy ageing. My work has the potential to be translated into a better understanding of how axonal degeneration can be prevented, or delayed. Bringing us a step closer to facilitating the development of effective molecular interventions to treat neurodegenerative disorders.


  • PhD in Neurological Sciences, The University of Queensland


View all Publications


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision


Featured Publications

Journal Article

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors: