Researcher biography


Professor Michael O’Sullivan is a neuroscientist, neurologist and group leader at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB). His main research interest is the neurobiology of brain injury, with an emphasis on mechanisms of resilience and recovery of the brain after injury. His previous work has developed understanding in two broad areas:

  • The cognitive neuroscience of memory and cognitive control – and how distributed and dynamic networks in the brain support these functions, which are often affected by injury.
  • How injury alters network structure and function leading to symptoms in day-to-day life - and intrinsic mechanisms of neural adaptation that modulate the effect of injury

At the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, O’Sullivan is building a research program on cellular and molecular events that influence adaptation and recovery, including the role of innate immunity and glial cells. This program includes novel approaches to neuroprotection and the role of astrocytes as key regulators of glutamate and neuroinflammation. A major theme is identification of therapeutic targets, and evaluation of disease progression or treatment response in vivo, using advanced human imaging with MRI, PET and novel radiotracers. In addition to his Institute work, O’Sullivan leads clinical and biomarker projects in stroke and traumatic brain injury and is a member of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in vascular mechanisms of cognitive impairment.

The group is at the forefront in the application of advanced techniques to investigate brain structure and function in vivo, including diffusion MRI and tractography, the use of functional MRI and EEG to examine to examine dynamic network interactions, and PET to examine neurochemistry.


Professor O’Sullivan supervises PhD projects across multiple research areas, including clinical science, cognitive neuroscience, animal models and computational neuroscience (such as machine learning and deep learning algorithms for diagnosis and prediction of prognosis). Expressions of interest from potential PhD and honours students are welcome.