Dr Molly Elizabeth Victoria Swanson
BSc(Hons), PhD (Anatomy)
I am a post-doctoral research fellow in the Motor Neuron Disease (MND) lab in the School of Biological Sciences and the Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland. I am currently funded by the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand's First Fellowship.
My research focuses on understanding how the immune cells of the brain, called microglia, change in neurodegenerative diseases. Microglia normally function to help the brain heal from damage and/or disease. There is increasing evidence that microglia become dysfunctional in neurodegenerative diseases, which can be toxic to neurons thereby contributing to disease. Because of their potential to both help and harm the brain throughout disease, understanding how they change in disease is key to developing potential therapies.
My PhD identified how microglia are altered in Alzheimer’s Disease. I utilised post-mortem human brain tissue to identify microglia in human disease. I then developed novel automated analysis pipelines to quantify microglial changes and relate these changes to anatomy and pathological hallmarks. I aim to extend these methodologies and develop new tools to investigate microglia in MND. Such research will contribute to our understanding of how microglia contribute to MND at different stages of disease.
Ms Serene Kim, Biomedical Science Honours (supervisor with Dr Emma Scotter and Dr Helen Murray)
Ms Zoe Woolf, Pharmacology PhD Candidate (co-supervisor with Dr Thomas Park, Prof Mike Dragunow, and Dr Anna Brooks)
Ms Laura Nementzik, Biomedical Science Honours with First Class Honours 2020 (co-supervisor with Dr Emma Scotter)
Mr Solomon Tianmu Niu, School of Biological Sciences Summer Student 2020-2021 (supervisor with Dr Emma Scotter)
Areas of expertise
- Microglia in post-mortem human brain tissue
- Novel automated image analysis pipelines
- Neurodegenerative diseases (including Alzheimer’s disease and Motor Neuron Disease)
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Swanson, M. E. V., Murray, H. C., Ryan, B., Faull, R. L. M., Dragunow, M., & Curtis, M. A. (2020). Quantitative immunohistochemical analysis of myeloid cell marker expression in human cortex captures microglia heterogeneity with anatomical context. Scientific reports, 10 (1)10.1038/s41598-020-68086-z
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Brigid Ryan, Helen Murray, Maurice Curtis, Richard Faull
- Murray, H. C., Dieriks, B. V., Swanson, M. E. V., Anekal, P. V., Turner, C., Faull, R. L. M., ... Curtis, M. A. (2020). The unfolded protein response is activated in the olfactory system in Alzheimer's disease. Acta neuropathologica communications, 8 (1)10.1186/s40478-020-00986-7
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Victor Dieriks, Helen Murray, Maurice Curtis, Richard Faull
- Swanson, M. E. (2019). Microglial Activation in the Normal and Alzheimer's Disease Brain The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
- Rustenhoven, J., Smith, A. M., Smyth, L. C., Jansson, D., Scotter, E. L., Swanson, M. E. V., ... Handley, R. (2018). PU.1 regulates Alzheimer's disease-associated genes in primary human microglia. Molecular neurodegeneration, 13 (1)10.1186/s13024-018-0277-1
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michael Dragunow, Emma Scotter, Pritika Narayan, Maurice Curtis, Richard Faull, Thomas Park, Deidre Jansson, Renee Handley
- Murray, H. C., Swanson, M. E. V., Dieriks, B. V., Turner, C., Faull, R. L. M., & Curtis, M. A. (2018). Neurochemical Characterization of PSA-NCAM+ Cells in the Human Brain and Phenotypic Quantification in Alzheimer's Disease Entorhinal Cortex. Neuroscience, 372, 289-303. 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.12.019
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Richard Faull, Helen Murray, Victor Dieriks, Maurice Curtis
- Swanson, M. E. V., Murray, H. C., Oliver, M. H., Waldvogel, H. J., Firth, E. C., & Curtis, M. A. (2017). Imposed running exercise does not alter cell proliferation in the neurogenic niches of young lambs. Journal of Animal Science, 95 (10), 4381-4390. 10.2527/jas2017.1710
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Elwyn Firth, Helen Murray, Mark Oliver, Henry Waldvogel, Maurice Curtis
- Murray, H. C., Low, V. F., Swanson, M. E. V., Dieriks, B. V., Turner, C., Faull, R. L. M., & Curtis, M. A. (2016). Distribution of PSA-NCAM in normal, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease human brain. Neuroscience, 330, 359-375. 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.06.003
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Maurice Curtis, Richard Faull, Victor Dieriks, Helen Murray, Victoria Low