Dr Vukovic graduated from The University of Western Australia in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science (Honours), majoring in both neuroscience and genetics. She was awarded her PhD from the same institution in 2008. She then relocated to The University of Queensland to join Professor Perry Bartlett's laboratory at the Queensland Brain Institute as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. She was awarded a Queensland Government Smart Futures Fellowship in 2010.
In 2015, Dr Vukovic established her independent laboratory with the School of Biomedical Sciences and the Queensland Brain Institute. Her lab investigates how microglia, the brain's resident immune cells, influence the process of learning and memory in ageing and disease. Dr Vukovic is a recipient of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Research Award (2015–2017).
We have recently demonstrated that microglia can exert a dual and opposing influence over adult neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons) in the hippocampus under different physiological conditions, namely exercise and ageing, and that signalling through the chemokine receptor, CX3CR1, critically contributes towards this (Vukovic et al., 2012, J Neurosci). We have also generated novel evidence that ongoing neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus is critical for new learning but does not play a role in memory recall (Vukovic et al., 2013, J Neurosci).
Our goal is now to elucidate exactly how physiological changes associated with exercise, as well as ageing, influence microglial function and adult neurogenesis. The ultimate goal of our work is to link cellular events to altered behaviour, and to harness the regenerative potential of neural stem/progenitor cells to stimulate optimal cognitive function and treat conditions associated with learning and memory deficits such as dementia.
Highly motivated and high achieving students interested in undertaking research are encouraged to contact Dr Vukovic.
The following Honours projects are currently available:
- The role of microglia in regulating neurogenesis and learning/memory
- Characterisation of hippocampal neurons important for spatial learning
If you are interested in undertaking a PhD, please contact Dr Vukovic to discuss project opportunities.
Ortega FJ, Vukovic J, Rodríguez MJ, Bartlett PF (2014) Blockade of microglial KATP channels abrogates suppression of inflammatory-mediated inhibition of neural precursor cells. Glia 62: 247-258
Vukovic J, Borlikova GG, Ruitenberg MJ, Robinson GJ, Sullivan RKP, Walker TL, Bartlett PF (2013) Immature doublecortin-positive hippocampal neurons are important for learning but not for remembering. The Journal of Neuroscience 33: 6603-6613
Vukovic J, Bedin AS, Bartlett PF, Osborne GW (2013) A novel fluorescent reporter CDy1 enriches for neural stem cells derived from the murine brain. Stem Cells and Development 22: 2341-2345
Vukovic J, Colditz M, Blackmore DG, Ruitenberg MJ, Bartlett PF (2012) Microglia modulate hippocampal neural precursor activity in response to exercise and ageing. The Journal of Neuroscience 32: 6435-6443
Blackmore DG, Vukovic J, Waters MJ, Bartlett PF (2012) GH mediates exercise-dependent activation of SVZ neural precursor cells in aged mice. PloS One 7: e49912
Walker TL, Vukovic J, Koudijs MM, Blackmore DG, Mackay EW, Sykes AM, Overall RW, Hamlin AS, Bartlett PF. (2012) Prolactin stimulates precursor cells in the adult mouse hippocampus. PloS One 7: e44371
Vukovic J, Blackmore DG, Jhaveri D, Bartlett PF (2011) Activation of neural precursors in the adult neurogenic niches. Neurochemistry International 59: 341-346 (IF 2.66; citations: 22)
Blomster J, Vukovic J, Hendrickx DAE, Jung S, Harvey AR, Filgueira L, Ruitenberg MJ (2011) CX3CR1 deficiency exacerbates neuronal loss and impairs early regenerative responses in the target-ablated olfactory epithelium. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 48: 236-245 (IF 3.76; citations: 12)
Vukovic J, Blomster L, Chinnery HR, Weninger W, Jung S, McMenamin PG, Ruitenberg MJ (2010) Bone marrow chimeric mice reveal a role for CX3CR1 in maintenance of the monocyte-derived cell population in the olfactory neuroepithelium. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 88: 645-654
Ruitenberg MJ, Vukovic J, Blomster L, Hall JE, Jung S, Filgueira L, McMenamin PG, Plant GW (2008) CX3CL1/fractalkine regulates branching and migration of monocyte-derived cells in the mouse olfactory epithelium. Journal of Neuroimmunology 205: 80-85