Dr Susan Sullivan

NHMRC Research Fellow

UQ Centre for Clinical Research
Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
susan.sullivan@uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 66010

Overview

Susan is a researcher in the area of neuroscience, examining the role of astrocytes in neonatal hypoxia-ischemia (lack of oxygen)

Dr Sullivan is currently an NH&MRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Professor Paul Colditz's group at UQCCR. Her research examines astrocyte biology in hypoxic-ischemic (HI) brain injury. HI brain injury in the neonate remains a major clinical problem. Although hypothermia has been shown to reduce mortality and brain injury, more than 40% of hypothermia-treated infants still suffer poor neurological outcome. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop therapies to be used in conjunction with hypothermia. It is becoming increasingly evident that a combination of therapeutic strategies that target multiple mechanistic pathways may hold the key to providing the best possible outcomes for HI neonates. Astrocytes are the key supporting cells in the brain and their function is critical for normal brain activity. Any changes in the architecture of astrocytes or the proteins they express can influence the viability of neurons in the region, which may become vulnerable to death by over excitation or oedema. Dr Sullivan's research has identified abnormal changes in astrocytes in the HI brain that affect neuronal function and survival. Susan's current and future research aims to prevent or reverse these abnormal changes to enhance neuroprotection and improve clinical outcomes following HI brain injury.

Research Interests

  • Expression of novel GFAP splice variants in the CNS
    Astrocytes play a vital role in the central nervous system (CNS). Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is expressed in the core or cytoskeleton of the astrocyte and it functions to provide stability to the astrocyte processes. Seven novel isoforms of GFAP have been identified that differ from the original GFAPα isoform. Isoforms GFAPδ/ε and GFAPκ have been associated with destabilizing the formation of GFAP polymers, which will affect the stability of astrocytes. We have generated polyclonal antibodies against multiple GFAP splice variants for use in western blotting and immunohistochemical studies. Expression of these novel GFAP splice variants may play an important role in development or in disease conditions where changes in GFAP expression have been identified (eg Alexander disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury).
  • Erythropoietin as rescue treatment for hypoxic/ischemic injury in the term piglet brain
    In Australia, at least four newborns per day will suffer a birth-related hypoxic-ischemic (HI) event. Current treatment strategies for perinatal HI are inadequate. Hypothermia can reduce death and disability, but it does not provide adequate protection to allow for normal neurodevelopmental outcome. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop additional therapies to be used in conjunction with hypothermia. Erythropoietin is a glycoprotein hormone that regulates the production of red blood cells (erythrogenesis). Erythropoietin has been shown in small-animal and cell culture models to be neuroprotective, acting on post-HI pathways such as glutamate excitotoxicity, oxidative injury, inflammation and reperfusion. This project will investigate the neuroprotective effects of erythropoietin in the HI neonatal piglet, a clinically relevant animal model of HI brain injury.

Research Impacts

In Australia, at least four newborns per day will suffer a birth-related complication where the brain is injured due to a lack of oxygen (hypoxia-ischemia, HI). Up to half of newborns suffering severe HI injury do not survive the neonatal period. Treatments such as hypothermia and antiepileptic drugs do not ensure normal developmental outcomes for HI babies; so there is an urgent need to develop better therapies. Dr Sullivan's research aims to develop better treatments and improve clinical outcomes following HI brain injury.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philsophy, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Science, The University of Queensland

Publications

View all Publications

Publications

Featured Publications

Book Chapter

  • Sullivan, Susan M. (2011). Grey matter injury in the hypoxic-ischemic neonate. In Andres Costa and Eugenio Villalba (Ed.), Horizons in neuroscience research (pp. 71-95) Hauppauge, NY, United States: Nova Science Publishers.

  • Pow, David V., Sullivan, Robert K. P., Williams, Susan M. and WoldeMussie, Elizabeth (2005). Transporters and oxidative stress in AMD. In Philip L. Penfold and Jan M. Provis (Ed.), Macular degeneration (pp. 123-148) Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Sullivan, S. M., Sullivan, R. K. P., Yong, K. and Colditz, P. B. (2012). Expression of GFAP splice variants in the rodent central nervous system. In: Australian Neuroscience Society Meeting, Gold Coast, Australia, (). 30 January - 1 February 2012.

  • Miller, S. M., Sullivan, S. M., Ireland, Z., Kalanjati, V., Ma, N., Colditz, P. B. and Björkman, S. T. (2012). GABAA receptor alpha subunit expression across development in the piglet brain.. In: Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital Health Care Symposium, Brisbane, Australia, (). 8-12 October 2012.

  • Miller, S. M., Ireland, Z., Sullivan, S. M., Colditz, P. B. and Bjorkman, S. T. (2012). GABAA receptor alpha subunit protein expression after hypoxia in the neonatal piglet. In: 12th International Child Neurology Conference, Brisbane Australia, (). 27 May – 1 June 2012.

  • Schleiger, E., Finnigan, S., Björkman, S. T., Miller, S. M., Sullivan, S. M., Ireland, Z. and Colditz, P. B. (2012). Investigating the efficacy of acute physiological measures to predict regional brain injury following neonatal hypoxia-ischemia. In: Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Health Care Symposium, Brisbane, Australia, (). 8-12 October 2012.

  • Sullivan, S. M., Yong, K., O'Dowd, C. E., Sullivan, R. K. P., Pow, D. V., Miller, S. M., Ireland, Z., Bjorkman, S. T. and Colditz, P. B. (2012). Regulation of GFAP in the neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain. In: Hershey Conference on Developmental Brain Injury, London, United Kingdom, (). 5-8 June 2012.

  • Sullivan, S. M., Sullivan, R. K. P. and Colditz, P. B. (2011). Expression of GFAP splice variants in the rodent central nervous system. In: 2nd Brisbane Early Career Researcher Poster Symposium, Brisbane, (). 4th November.

  • Miller, S. M., Ireland, Z., Sullivan, S. M., Colditz, P. B. and Bjorkman, S. T. (2011). GABAA receptor alpha-1 and alpha-3 subunit expression following neonatal hypoxia-ischemia in the newborn piglet. In: Australian Neuroscience Society Meeting 2011, Auckland, New Zealand, (159-159). 31 January - 3 February 2011.

  • Sullivan, S. M., Bjorkman, S. T., Miller, S. M., Pow, D. V. and Colditz, P. B. (2010). Astrocyte remodelling and Changes in GFAP phosphorylation in the neonatal hypoxic/ischemic brain. In: 7th Hershey Conference on Developmental Brain Injury, Snowbird, Utah, USA, (). 3-5 June 2010.

  • Sullivan, S. M., Bjorkman, S. T., Miller, S. M. and Colditz, P. B. (2010). Changes in GFAP phosphorylation in the hypoxic/ischemic brain. In: 30th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society, Sydney, Australia, (). 1-3 February 2010.

  • Miller, S. M., Ireland, Z., Sullivan, S. M., Pelly, S., Colditz, P. B. and Bjorkman, S. T. (2010). Effect of neonatal hypoxia/ischemia on GABAA receptor protein expression. In: 19th Annual Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Health Care Symposium, Brisbane, Australia, (). 11-15 October 2010.

  • Sullivan, S. M., Bjorkman, S. T., Miller, S. M., Colditz, P. B. and Pow, D. V. (2009). Astrocyte architecture in the hypoxic/ischemic brain. In: The 29th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society. 29th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS), Canberra, ACT, Australia, (). 27-30 January 2009.

  • Pow, D. V., Lee, A., Sullivan, S. M. and Poronnik, P. (2009). Excitotoxicity and the glial cytoskeleton. In: Journal of Neurochemistry. Special Issue: Abstracts for the 22nd Biennial Meeting of the ISN/APSN, 23-28 August 2009, Busan, South Korea. 22nd Biennial Meeting of the International-Society of Neurochemistry/Asian Pacific Society for Neurochemistry, Busan, South Korea, (112-112). 23-28 August, 2009. doi:10.1111/%28ISSN%291471-4159

  • Sullivan, S. M., Björkman, S. T., Colditz, P. B. and Pow, D. V. (2008). Astrocyte remodelling in the hypoxic brain: A consequence of cytoskeletal depolymerisation?. In: Australian Neuroscience Society 28th Annual Meeting, Hobart, Australia, (). 27-30 January, 2008.

  • Pow, D. V., Sullivan, S. M., Björkman, S. T., Macnab, L. T. and Colditz, P. B. (2008). GLAST1b: A Sensitive Marker Of Dysfunctional Neurons. In: Proceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society. 28th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society. 28th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society, Hobart, Tasmania, (). 27-30 January 2008.

  • Sullivan S. M., Björkman, S. T., Miller, S. M., Colditz, P. B. and Pow, D. V. (2008). Morphological changes in grey and white matter astrocytes in the neonatal pig brain after hypoxia. In: Neuroscience 2008, Washington D.C., U.S., (). 15-19 November, 2008.

  • Björkman, S. T., Miller, S. M., Wallis, L. E. D., Sullivan, S. M., Pow, D. V. and Colditz, P. B. (2008). Seizures in the newborn hypoxic-ischemic brain: Silent killers?. In: ANS 2008: 28th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society, Hobart, Tas, Australia, (). 27-30 January, 2008.

  • Sullivan, S. M., Björkman, S. T., Colditz, P. B. and Pow, D. V. (2007). Astrocyte remodelling in the hypoxic brain: A propathogenic event?. In: 7th IBRO World Congress of Neuroscience, Melbourne, Australia, (). 12-17 July, 2007.

  • Sullivan, S. M., Macnab, L. T., Björkman, S. T., Colditz, P. B. and Pow, D. V. (2007). GLAST1b is a marker of neuronal dysfunction in the hypoxic brain. In: Glutamate in the Vineyards: An International Conference on the Neuropharmacology of Glutamate, Hunter Valley, Australia, (). 8-10 July, 2007.

  • Macnab, L. T., Sullivan, R. K. P., Sullivan,S. M. and Pow, D. V. (2007). Spontaneous microvascular lesions in rat retinae cause delayed focal retinal damage. In: The joint meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS, 27th Annual Meeting) and the 7th International Brain Research Organisation (IBRO) World Congress of Neuroscience, Melbourne, Vic, Australia, (). 12-17 July, 2007.

  • Sullivan, S. M., Lee, A., Macnab, L. T., Poronnik, P., Björkman, S. T., Colditz, P. B. and Pow, D. V. (2007). The glial cytoskeleton and glutamate homeostasis. In: Glutamate in the Vineyards: An International Conference on the Neuropharmacology of Glutamate, Hunter Valley, Australia, (). 8-10 July, 2007.

  • Pow, D. V., Williams, S. M., Macnab, L. T., Sullivan, R. K. P. and Anderson, W. B. (2006). D-serine: Is it a vesicular glial and neuronal transmitter?. In: Proceedings of the 26th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS). 26th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS), Sydney, NSW, Australia, (). 31 January - 3 February, 2006.

  • Diaz, C. M., Macnab, L. T., Williams, S. M., Sullivan, R. K. P. and Pow, D. V. (2006). Is the human Maller cell really a late developer? Evidence for early expression of radial glial markers in the foetal retina. In: Proceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society. The 26th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society, Sydney, Australia, (). 31 January - 3 February 2006.

  • Foley PF, Loh E-W, Innes DJ, Williams SM, Shen Y, Tannenberg AEG, Harper CG and Dodd PR (2005). Combined influence of neurotransmitter gene polymorphisms in post-mortem alcoholics.. In: Proc Aust Neuroscience Soc. 16.. 25th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS)., Perth, (). 30 January – 2 February.

  • Diaz, C. M., Williams, S. M., Sullivan, R. K. P. and Pow, D. V. (2005). Early expression of glutamate transporters in the developing human retina. In: Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology Annual Meeting ARVO 2005, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U. S. A., (). 1-5 May 2005.

  • Diaz, C. M., Williams, S. M., Sullivan, R. K. P. and Pow, D. V. (2005). Localisation of D-Serine in the developing human retina. In: Paul Martin, Proceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society. ANS2005: 25th annual meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society. ANS2005: 25th annual meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society, Perth, Western Australia, Australia, (). 30 January-2 February 2005.

  • Pow, D. V., Williams, S. M., Boyce, D., Goldsworthy, B., Sullivan, R. K. P. and Diaz, C. M. (2005). Localisation of the NMDA receptor coagonist D-Serine in the rodent brain. In: Proceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS). 25th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS), Perth, Western Australia, (). 30 January - 2 February, 2005.

  • Williams, S. M., Bryan-Lluka, L. J. and Pow, D. V. (2005). Quantitative analysis of serotonin levels in the murine brain following treatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs. In: Proceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society. 25th Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS), Perth, Australia, (). 30 January - 2 February 2005.

  • Foley, P. F., Loh, E.- W., Innes, D. J., Williams, S. M., Tannenberg, A. E. G., Harper, C. G. and Dodd, P. R. (2004). Alcohol-associated gene polymorphisms in post-mortem cases. In: Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. 27th Annual Meeting of Research Society on Alcoholism, Vancouver, Canada, (50A-50A). 26-30 June, 2004.

  • Pow, D. V., Williams, S. M. and Sullivan, R. K. P. (2004). D–serine localisation in the human and rat retina. In: Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.. Association of Research for Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2004 Annual Meeting, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, U. S. A., (U103-U103). 25-29 April 2004.

  • Foley, P. F., Loh, E-W., Innes, D. J., Williams, S. M., Tannenberg, A. E. G., Harper, C. G. and Dodd, P. R. (2004). Genetic associations in alcoholics studied at post-mortem. In: 4th Australasian Human Gene Mapping Meeting, Perth, Australia, (). 10-11 November 2004.

  • Dodd, P. R., Foley, P. F., Harper, C. G., Innes, D. J., Loh, E-W., Tannenberg, A. E. G. and Williams, S. M. (2004). Genetic associations with neurotransmission in post-mortem alcoholics. In: 5th International Meeting on Addictions. Crossing boundaries: Implications of Advances in Basic Sciences for the Management of Addiction, Sunshine Coast, Australia, (). 24-26 September 2004.

  • Foley, P. F., Loh, E.- W., Innes, D. J., Williams, S. M., Tannenberg, A. E. G., Harper, C. G. and Dodd, P. R. (2004). Genetic polymorphisms in post-mortem alcoholics. In: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism 2004 Congress, Heidelberg/Mannheim, Germany, (31A-31A). 29 September - 2 October, 2004. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2004.tb03608.x

  • Colditz, P., Finkelstein, D., Lingwood, B., Pow, D., Rauen, T., Scott, H., Sullivan, R. K. P. and Williams, S. M. (2004). Glutamate transporter expression patterns vary in mammals with differing levels of cortical complexity. In: Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting 2004, San Diego, California, (). 23-27 October 2004.

  • Williams, S. M., Dixon, G. and Pow, D. V. (2004). Is there an abnormality in the expression of glutamate transporters in schizophrenia?. In: Proceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society. 24th Australian Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting 2004, Melbourne, Vic, Australia, (55-55). 27-30 January, 2004.

  • Lingwood, B. E., Healy, G. N., Williams, S., Pow, D. V. and Colditz, P. B. (2004). MAP2 as an early predictor of neural injury following neonatal hypoxia in piglets. In: Integrating Science and Perinatal Practice: Controversies and Dilemmas. Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand 8th Annual Congress 2004, Sydney, Australia, (10-10). 15-18 March 2004.

  • Lingwood, B. E., Healy, G. N., Williams, S. M., Pow, D. V. and Colditz, P. B. (2004). MAP2 as an early predictor of neural injury following neonatal hypoxia in piglets. In: Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Health Care Symposium, Brisbane, (). 19-22 October 2004.

  • Foley, P., Loh, E.- W., Innes, D. J., Williams, S. M., Tannenberg, A., Harper, C. and Dodd, P. R. (2004). Neurotransmitter gene polymorphisms in alcoholics. In: Proceedings of Australian Neuroscience Society. Australian Neuroscience Society 24th Annual Meeting, Melbourne, Australia, (75-75). 27-30 January, 2004.

  • Foley, P. F., Innes, D. J., Williams, S. M., Loh, E.-W, Tannenberg, A. E. G., Harper, C. G. and Dodd, P. R. (2003). Association studies of neurotransmitter gene polymorphisms in alcoholic Caucasians. In: International Society for Neurochemistry (ISN) / Asian-Pacific Society for Neurochemistry (APSN) Satellite Meeting 1: Current Status of Dependence/Abuse Studies: Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Drugs of Abuse and Neurotoxicity, Kyoto, Japan, (). 29 July - 1 August 2003.

  • Foley, P. F., Innes, D. J., Williams, S. M., Loh, E.-W., Tannenberg, R. K., Tannenberg, A. E. G. and Dodd, P. R. (2003). Genetic polymorphisms in alcoholism in post-mortem cases: Association with brain Reward. In: Proceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society. 23rd Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS)., Adelaide, (). 28-31 January 2003.

  • Foley, P., Innes, D. J., Williams, S. M., Loh, E.- W., Tannenberg, A. E. and Dodd, P. R. (2003). Genetic polymorphisms in post-mortem alcoholic Caucasians. In: Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research: Abstracts of the 2003 Research Society on Alcoholism and the 12th Congress of the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism. 2003 Scientific Meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism and the 12th Congress of the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism, Florida, U.S., (7A-7A). 21-25 June, 2003.

  • Pow, DV, Sullivan, R, Scott, H, Dodd, P and Williams, S (2003). Holes in your cortex and other anomalies! Glutamate and GABA transporters in humans and other species. In: Journal of Neurochemistry. 19th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Neurochemistry: 1st Joint Meeting with the Asian Pacific Society for Neurochemistry, Hong Kong, China, (114-114). 3-8 August 2003.

  • Williams, S. M. and Pow, D. V. (2003). Unexpectedly early expression of functional glial glutamate transporters in developing rat brains. In: Proceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society / Australian Neuroscience Society Incorporated, ANS, 23rd Annual Meeting. 23rd Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS), Adelaide, South Australia, (). 28-31 January, 2003.

  • Pow, D. V., Sullivan, R. K. P. and Williams, S. M. (2003). Visualising CNS glutamate transporters in development, health and disease. In: Proceedings of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS). 23rd Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS), Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, (). 28-31 January, 2003.

  • Foley, P. F., Innes, D. J., Williams, S. M., Loh, E-W., Tannenberg, R. K., Tannenberg, A. E. G. and Dodd, P. R. (2002). Genetic Polymorphisms in Post-Mortem Cases: Associations with Alcoholism and Dementia. In: 3rd Australasian Human Gene Mapping Meeting, Hobart , Tasmania, Australia, (). 4-6 December 2002.

  • Williams, S. M., Scott, H. L., Innes, D. J., Pow, D. V. and Dodd, P. R. (2002). Localisation and Genotyping of Glutamate Transporter EAAT2 in Alzheimer’s Disease. In: Proc Aust Neuroscience Soc. 13. 22nd Annual Meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS)., Sydney, (). 4-6 February.

  • Williams, S. M., Innes, D. J., Scott, H. L., Pow, D. V. and Dodd, P. R. (2002). The Glutamate Transporter EAAT2 and Alzheimer’s Disease. In: Australian and New Zealand Society for Neuropathology (ANZSNP)., Sydney, (). 2-3 June 2002.