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Bourke Lab research

CollaborationsStudent research projects | Publications

About Associate Professor Jane Bourke

PhD, University of Melbourne, 1993.
BSc (Hons), University of Melbourne, 1986.

Associate Professor Jane Bourke is a Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology at Monash University, where she leads the Respiratory Pharmacology Group. She has a long-standing interest in the regulation of smooth muscle function in the lung and cardiovascular system. Her research focuses on identifying improved therapeutic strategies in chronic lung diseases, including asthma, COPD, silicosis and pulmonary hypertension.

Jane has unique expertise in Australia with a novel lung slice technique in which changes in airway and artery lumen area and calcium signalling can be visualised. She has applied this to mouse, rat and sheep models that mimic key features of human lung diseases in both early and adult life. She has identified novel bronchodilators and vasodilators that cause relaxation under conditions where current drugs are ineffective, and is now examining their effects in animal disease models and human lung tissue to support their future clinical development.

Jane has published her research in specialist respiratory and pharmacology journals (Thorax, European Respiratory Journal, AJRCMB, American Journal of Physiology (Lung), Respiratory Research, Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, British Journal of Pharmacology) as well as multidisciplinary journals (Nature Communications, Clinical Science, Scientific Reports). She regularly reviews manuscripts and is currently an Editorial Board Member for Frontiers in Physiology and Scientific Reports.

Jane was the President of the Asia Pacific Society of Respirology Congress in 2017, and served as a member of the Board of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ), where she chaired the Education/Research and Conference Committees. She was made a Fellow of TSANZ in 2019.


Our research

Current projects

  1. Characterising changes in airway and vascular reactivity in chronic lung diseases
  2. Identifying novel bronchodilators targeting intrapulmonary airways in asthma and COPD
  3. Identifying novel vasodilators targeting intrapulmonary arteries in pulmonary hypertension and bronchopulmonary dysplasia

Visit Associate ProfessorBourke's Monash research profile to see a full listing of current projects.

Research activities

Our research focuses on chronic lung diseases that occur following premature birth (bronchopulmonary dysplasia), emerge during childhood (asthma), or develop in adulthood (COPD, pulmonary hypertension, silicosis). We use a novel lung slice technique to identify new therapeutic targets when current drugs are ineffective – to treat symptoms and to protect against the development of the changes in lung structure that lead to loss of function. We are currently examining multiple novel drug candidates in animal models and in human lung tissue to support their future clinical development.

Precision-cut lung slices are a unique way to test drugs that could be used to treat asthma and other lung diseases. This video shows
contraction of an airway to metacholine (MCh, mimicking an asthma attack) and relaxation to rosiglitazone (RGZ, a novel bronchodilator) in a
mouse lung using phase microscopy (1 sec = 1 minute real time). We have published numerous studies testing this drug and others
(e.g. Lam et al. Front Pharmacol. 2016 7:406; Donovan et al, Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 2014 309:L1219-28).

Images showing airway and artery contraction within a lung slice – uncontracted (left) contracted (right).


Collaborations

We collaborate with many scientists and research organisations around the world. Some of our more significant national and international collaborators are listed below. Click on the map to see the details for each of these collaborators (dive into specific publications and outputs by clicking on the dots).

  • Professor Philip Bardin, Hudson Institute
  • Associate Professor Janette Burgess, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
  • Dr Steve Dubsky, Engineering, Monash University
  • Dr Chris Grainge, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle
  • Dr Ryan Hoy, Monash University
  • Dr Jade Jaffar, Alfred Hospital
  • Associate Professor Barbara Kemp-Harper, Pharmacology, Monash University
  • Dr Katie Leach, MIPS
  • Dr Claudia Nold, Hudson Institute
  • Dr Brian Oliver, University of Technology, Sydney
  • Dr Helena Qin, Baker IDI
  • Professor Paul Reynolds, University of SA, Adelaide
  • Associate Professor Rebecca Ritchie, Baker IDI
  • Dr Simon Royce, Pathology, Monash University
  • Associate Professor Chrishan Samuel, Pharmacology, Monash University
  • Dr Ken Snibson, Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Maria Sukkar, University of Technology, Sydney
  • Dr Belinda Thomas, Hudson Institute
  • Associate Professor Glen Westall, Alfred Hospital

Student research projects

The Bourke Lab offers a variety of Honours, Masters and PhD projects for students interested in joining our group. There are also a number of short-term research opportunities available. You are encouraged to contact Associate Professor Jane Bourke regarding potential projects that align with the presented research themes.