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Physiology Expert Joins Faculty

13 July 2004

Physiology Expert Joins Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Dr Johanna Montgomery, whose research has been pivotal in explaining how connections between cells in the brain change following brain cell activity, has joined The University of Auckland's Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

Dr Montgomery, who has been appointed Senior Lecturer in Physiology, says she is particularly interested in the mechanisms by which synapses (junctions between nerve cells) can increase and decrease their efficacy, better known as synaptic plasticity.

A New Zealander, Dr Montgomery has spent the last five years as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, and Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University, California, where she investigated the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and the dynamics and modulation of synaptic proteins.

"By combining molecular biology with physiology and imaging, my future research aims include examining the underpinnings of these molecular interactions and their consequential influence on synaptic function.

"I am very interested in using a multi-technique approach to further understand the molecular basis of both synapse formation and elimination," says Dr Montgomery.

The recipient of the 2001 Servier Distinguished Young Investigator Award, the highest award for young scientists presented by the International Union of Physiological Sciences, Dr Montgomery has been described by leading scientists in America as "a world class talent" and "a leader in the field of synaptic structure and function".

Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Professor Peter Smith says the Faculty is delighted to be able to attract a scientist of Dr Montgomery's calibre.

"Dr Montgomery's commitment to explaining synaptic structure and function is a fine example of true scholarship and we are confident she will be a good mentor for budding scientists in our Physiology department. We are particularly pleased to have recruited a talented New Zealand scientist coming to work back home."

Dr Montgomery's professional affiliations include membership of the International Society for Neuroscience and the Australian Society for Neuroscience.


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