Dr Sophie Payne

Research Fellow, Bionics Institute PhD (Neuroscience) BSc Hons

Dr Sophie Payne

Dr Sophie Payne started working at the Bionics Institute in 2015 to work on a project investigating ‘Neuromodulation of the vagus nerve (VN) for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease’ that is funded by the Defence Advanced Research Project’s Agency (DARPA), an agency of the US Department of Defence. Sophie coordinates a large team that includes bio-engineers (Bionics Institute), neuroscientists (Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, The University of Melbourne) and gastroenterologist surgeons (Austin Health) that are working together to develop a bionic solution to inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

A specific focus of Sophie’s work at the Bionic Institute is to develop a device that acts as a biomarker and detects the degree of inflammation in the gut, while the second key aim is to develop and optimise a device for the stimulation of the vagus nerve that best reduces symptoms of the inflammatory disease. Together, it is anticipated that these devices will be combined to form a closed loop system for the continual detection and treatment (through VN stimulation) of inflammatory bowel disease in human patients. A highlight for Sophie has been close collaboration  with a leading edge, multi-disciplined  team that has rapidly developed a potential biomarker of gut inflammation, thereby swiftly moving the project closer to clinical trials.

Sophie was also awarded a project grant (Early Career Research internal grant scheme, Melbourne University) that will fund a project that continues her research interest in myelinating glia in the central nervous system. This project will assess changes to myelin and node morphology in the optic nerve following chronic blindness, and therefore further the understanding of the model.

Prior to joining the Bionics Institute, Sophie completed her PhD at the University of Western Australia (2009-2012), where she investigated long term effects of injury to the optic nerve on myelinating glia. In 2012, Sophie started her first post doctorate position with Professor Janet Keast at the University of Melbourne, assessing regeneration and repair of the autonomic nervous system.

Research fields of interest

  • Medical Bionics

  • Autonomic nervous system

  • Inflammatory diseases

  • Multiple sclerosis and remyelination in the central nervous

Research projects

  • Neuromodulation of the vagus nerve for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (funded by DARPA)

  • Myelin sheath integrity and node morphology of the optic nerve following blindness (funded by the Early Career Research Scheme, University of Melbourne)

Selected Publications

  1. Payne, S. C., R. K. Shepherd, A. Sedo, J. B. Fallon, and J. B. Furness. 2018. An objective in vivo diagnostic method for inflammatory bowel disease. Royal Society Open Science. 5(3): 180107. doi: 10.1098/rsos.180107. Full Text


See more publication at PubMed

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