Dr. Siobhan Kirk focuses on identifying pathways of metabolic dysfunction in motor neurone disease (MND).

Dr. Siobhan Kirk's research focuses on deciphering the relationships between endocrine and metabolic pathways in modulating the onset and progression of motor neurone disease (MND). MND is a devastating neurodegenerative disease causing the progressive deterioration of motor neurones and eventually leading to death. Therapeutic options in the treatment of MND are limited and thus further research into the mechanisms underlying this complex disease are required. Dr. Kirk is working to use human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons to elucidate mechanistic changes in neuronal metabolism and to test potential therapeutic treatments in a pre-clinical model.

Dr. Kirk is an early career researcher whose expertise lies at the interface of neuroscience, metabolism and endocrinology. Dr. Kirk was awarded a Bachelor of Science with first class Honours in 2012 and a PhD in December 2016 from the Centre for Neuroendocrinology and Department of Anatomy at the University of Otago. In the following twelve months, Dr. Kirk maintained positions as an Assistant Research Fellow and a Teaching Fellow at the University of Otago, New Zealand. During this time she attained a research grant from the British Society for Neuroendocrinology to support a research project investigating hormonal activation of neurons projecting from the central nervous system to the blood. She has published a first author manuscript in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology (top 20% of journals in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism), which was featured on the cover of the same edition, and has a co-authored manuscript in the Journal of Neuroscience (top 10% of Neuroscience journals). The impact of her published work led to an invitation to speak at the 2017 Federation of American Sciences and Experimental Biology (FASEB) "Growth hormone/prolactin family in biology and disease" meeting in the United States. In 2018, Dr. Kirk relocated to Australia to take up a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Dr. Shyuan Ngo at The University of Queensland.

Dr. Kirk's career objectives include: translating research in fundamental neuroscience research to improve health outcomes for those living with neurodegenerative disease and to advance research in MND. Dr. Kirk is a motivated researcher with a dedication to producing research with a meaningful impact for those living with neurodegenerative disease.


Key Publications

"Restraint stress increases prolactin-mediated phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 in the hypothalamus and adrenal cortex in the male mouse" S. E. Kirk, T. Y. Xie, F. J. Steyn, D. R. Grattan, S. J. Bunn, Journal of Neuroendocrinology. 2017. doi: 10.1111/jne.12477

"Plasticity of hypothalamic dopamine neurons during lactation results in dissociation of electrical activity and release" Nicola Romanò, Siew H. Yip, David J. Hodson, Anne Guillou, Sébastien Parnaudeau, Siobhan Kirk, François Tronche, Xavier Bonnefont, Paul Le Tissier, Stephen J. Bunn, Dave R. Grattan, Patrice Mollard and Agnès O. Martin. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2013. 33 (10):4424-33Labrador-Garrido A, Cejudo-Guillén M, Klippstein R, De Genst EJ, Tomas-Gallardo L, Leal MM, Villadiego J, Toledo-Aral JJ, Dobson CM, Pozo


Dr. Kirk was supported to complete her PhD by the Department of Anatomy, University of Otago. She received generous funding from: New Zealand Society of Endocrinology, British Society of Neuroendocrinology, Australasian Society for Neuroendocrinology, and the Federation of American Sciences and Experimental Biology to support conference attendance. Dr. Kirk subsequently received funding from the British Society of Neuroendocrinology to support her overseas research.