Dr Rodrigo Suarez

UQ Amplify Fellow

Queensland Brain Institute
r.suarez@uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 66342

Overview

I am a biologist interested in the general question of how changes in developmental processes can lead to evolutionary variation and origin of complex traits (such as neural circuits). I study development and evolution of the brain of mammals. My doctoral thesis studied brain regions involved in olfactory and pheromonal communication in mammals. I discovered several events of parallel co-variation of sensory pathways in distantly related species sharing similar ecological niches, as cases of ontogenetic and phylogenetic plasticity. Currently, I study development and evolution of neocortical circuits by following two main lines of research: one aims to determine how early neuronal activity affects development of cortical circuits, and the other one aims to understand what developmental processes led to the evolution of the mammalian brain, including the origin of the corpus callosum exclusively in Eutherians, but not in monotreme or marsupial mammals, and the evolution of the neocortex in mammals but not in other vertebrates. My research combines molecular development (electroporation, CRISPR), transcriptomics, sensory manipulations, neuroanatomy mapping (MRI, stereotaxic tracer injections, confocal and image analysis), optogenetics, and in vivo calcium imaging in rodent pups and marsupial joeys.

Research Interests

  • Comparative vertebrate neuroanatomy
  • Brain development
  • Sensory neuroscience
  • Neuroethology
  • Evolutionary developmental biology
  • Olfaction and pheromones
  • Mammal zoology
  • Neocortical development and function

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Biomedical Science, University of Chile

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • How does the brain acquire its connectivity pattern during development? What developmental features have been key to the generation of evolutionary diversity of brain architecture in mammals and other vertebrates? By studying comparative development of the cerebral cortex in selected species we aim to gain insights not only on the natural history of the human brain, but also on neurodevelopmental diseases that affect neocortical circuits such as autism and schizophrenia.

    This project aims at elucidating the main roles of early sensory and spontaneous activity in the formation of neocortical layers, areas and circuits. By combining molecular, electrical and developmental manipulations in developing mammalian embryos and pups, this project will study how early events affect the precise formation of cortical features required for normal cognitive development. Highly motivated students with strengths in developmental neurobiology, neurophysiology, animal behaviour, signal analysis and/or computational sciences are encouraged to apply.

  • How does the brain acquire its connectivity pattern during development? What developmental features have been key to the generation of evolutionary diversity of brain architecture in mammals and other vertebrates? By studying comparative development of the cerebral cortex in selected species we aim to gain insights not only on the natural history of the human brain, but also on neurodevelopmental diseases that affect neocortical circuits such as autism and schizophrenia.

    Highly motivated students with a strong scientific formation and original ideas on the evolution and development of the nervous system are particularly encouraged to apply for a RHD student scholarship.

  • How does the brain acquire its connectivity pattern during development? What developmental features have been key to the generation of evolutionary diversity of brain architecture in mammals and other vertebrates? By studying comparative development of the cerebral cortex in selected species we aim to gain insights not only on the natural history of the human brain, but also on neurodevelopmental diseases that affect neocortical circuits such as autism and schizophrenia.

    This project aims at elucidating the molecular evolution of genes involved in mammalian brain development. By comparing transcriptomic, cellular and developmental differences between mice and marsupials this project will shed light on the evolution of the largest tract in the brain: the corpus callosum. Highly motivated students with strengths in genetics, bioinformatics, molecular biology, developmental neurobiology, physiology and/or brain anatomy are encouraged to apply.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Gobius, I., Morcom, L., Suarez, R., Bunt, J., Sherr, E. and Richards, L. (2015). Astroglial-mediated remodeling of the interhemispheric midline is exclusive to eutherian mammals and underlies the formation of the corpus callosum. In: Supplement: GLIA Bilbao 2015: Abstracts Oral Presentations, Posters, Indexes. 12th European Meeting on Glial Cell Function in Health and Disease, Bilbao, Spain, (E206-E206). 15-18 July 2015. doi:10.1002/glia.22870

  • Gobius, I., Morcom, L., Suarez, R., Bunt, J., Sherr, E. H. and Richards, L. J. (2015). Astroglial-mediated remodeling of the interhemispheric midline underlies the formation of the corpus callosum in eutherian mammals. In: Special Issue: 25th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Neurochemistry Jointly with the 13th Meeting of the Asian Pacific Society for Neurochemistry in Conjunction with the 35th Meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society. 25th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Neurochemistry Jointly with the 13th Meeting of the Asian Pacific Society for Neurochemistry in Conjunction with the 35th Meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society, Cairns, QLD Australia, (104-104). 23-27 August 2015. doi:10.1111/jnc.13188

  • Suarez, R., Paolino, A., Kozulin, P., Morcom, L., Fenlon, L. and Richards, L. (2015). Developmental scenarios for the evolutionary origin of the corpus callosum. In: Special Issue: 25th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Neurochemistry Jointly with the 13th Meeting of the Asian Pacific Society for Neurochemistry in Conjunction with the 35th Meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society. 25th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Neurochemistry Jointly with the 13th Meeting of the Asian Pacific Society for Neurochemistry in Conjunction with the 35th Meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society, Cairns, QLD Australia, (184-184). 23-27 August 2015. doi:10.1111/jnc.13188

  • Fenlon, L., Suarez, R. and Richards, L. (2015). The organisation, development and connectivity of two callosal projections arising from the mouse somatosensory cortex. In: Special Issue: 25th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Neurochemistry Jointly with the 13th Meeting of the Asian Pacific Society for Neurochemistry in Conjunction with the 35th Meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society. 25th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Neurochemistry Jointly with the 13th Meeting of the Asian Pacific Society for Neurochemistry in Conjunction with the 35th Meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society, Cairns, QLD Australia, (179-179). 23-27 August 2015. doi:10.1111/jnc.13188

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • How does the brain acquire its connectivity pattern during development? What developmental features have been key to the generation of evolutionary diversity of brain architecture in mammals and other vertebrates? By studying comparative development of the cerebral cortex in selected species we aim to gain insights not only on the natural history of the human brain, but also on neurodevelopmental diseases that affect neocortical circuits such as autism and schizophrenia.

    This project aims at elucidating the main roles of early sensory and spontaneous activity in the formation of neocortical layers, areas and circuits. By combining molecular, electrical and developmental manipulations in developing mammalian embryos and pups, this project will study how early events affect the precise formation of cortical features required for normal cognitive development. Highly motivated students with strengths in developmental neurobiology, neurophysiology, animal behaviour, signal analysis and/or computational sciences are encouraged to apply.

  • How does the brain acquire its connectivity pattern during development? What developmental features have been key to the generation of evolutionary diversity of brain architecture in mammals and other vertebrates? By studying comparative development of the cerebral cortex in selected species we aim to gain insights not only on the natural history of the human brain, but also on neurodevelopmental diseases that affect neocortical circuits such as autism and schizophrenia.

    Highly motivated students with a strong scientific formation and original ideas on the evolution and development of the nervous system are particularly encouraged to apply for a RHD student scholarship.

  • How does the brain acquire its connectivity pattern during development? What developmental features have been key to the generation of evolutionary diversity of brain architecture in mammals and other vertebrates? By studying comparative development of the cerebral cortex in selected species we aim to gain insights not only on the natural history of the human brain, but also on neurodevelopmental diseases that affect neocortical circuits such as autism and schizophrenia.

    This project aims at elucidating the molecular evolution of genes involved in mammalian brain development. By comparing transcriptomic, cellular and developmental differences between mice and marsupials this project will shed light on the evolution of the largest tract in the brain: the corpus callosum. Highly motivated students with strengths in genetics, bioinformatics, molecular biology, developmental neurobiology, physiology and/or brain anatomy are encouraged to apply.