Profile image for Junhua Xiao

Dr Junhua Xiao

Deputy Department Chair - Health Science and Biostatistics, School Academic Director Partnerships, Discipline Lead Digital Anatomy


Dr Xiao is a medical graduate and holds a PhD in medicine from the University of Melbourne. She has been the recipient of the prestigious NH&MRC Peter Doherty Postdoctoral Fellowship and the ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award. She has over sixteen years’ experience in leading pre-clinical and clinical research programs in the field of neurodegenerative diseases, in particular multiple sclerosis. She has led large-scale multi-disciplinary medical research projects focusing on the therapeutic development for neurodegenerative diseases. She has been the chief investigator on 20 competitive grants from national and international funding agencies including NHMRC and ARC, and regularly serves as an expert panel member and reviewer for national and international research funding agencies, philanthropies and international scientific journals.  Dr Xiao currently serves on the Editorial Boards of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, BMC Medical Education, and the Education Committee of the Australia and New Zean Association of Clinical Anatomists (ANZACA).   


Dr Xiao heads the Neural Repair Laboratory within the School of Health Sciences and is the Founding Director of Digital Anatomy Network.  Her laboratory primarily focuses on understanding the mechanisms that govern nervous system function in health and promote repair after injury, with the goal to develop novel therapeutic interventions that can treat neurodegenerative diseases.  Dr Xiao uses a variety of molecular, cellular, biochemical, genetic, advanced imaging techniques, functional analyses and digital technologies to investigate these events. As a passionate educator, Dr Xiao also has research interests in the contemporary pedagogy of medical and health science education in particular digital anatomy.

 Dr. Xiao welcomes enquiries from students who are interested in pursuing Master or PhD degrees in the above research areas.

Research interests

Digital Anatomy; Multiple Sclerosis; Depression; Neurodegnerative diseases

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Supervisor.

PhD topics and outlines

Advancing authentic learning of human anatomy in the digital age: This education research project aims to tackle the contemporary pedagogy in digital anatomy education. This project will suit a candidate postgraduate who has a passion in pursuing professional career in higher education.

Sailing Simulation as a novel exercise therapy to improve functional recovery in people with multiple sclerosis: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated disease of the central nervous system that leads to progressive long-term disability.  Simulated sailing is a virtual sailing exercise that involves complex motor learning.  This project aims to investigate whether simulated sailing is a novel exercise therapy that could improve functional recovery in people with MS.

Unravel how lipid metabolism regulates brain function and repair : This neuroscience research project aims to decipher the roles that sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), a bioactive lipid, plays after neural injury in the context of multiple sclerosis, a devastating demyelinating neurological disorder.  To investigate this, we will use a variety of molecular, cellular, biochemical, disease animal models and advanced imaging techniques.

Unravelling the role of brain lipid metabolism in the aging central nervous system: This project aims to dissect the role that a key brain lipid (S1P) plays in the aging nervous system through using a cell-type specific transgenic mouse approach. Results of this study will provide significant contribution towards the health gaining of the nervous system and importantly the development of new therapeutics for neurological diseases such as the Alzheimer’s’ disease.


Available to supervise honours students.

Honours topics and outlines

Other researhc projects: The above PhD projects are also open to Honours/Master students

Unravel how lipid metabolism regulates brain function and repair : This neuroscience research project aims to decipher the role as to how the metabolism of a bioactive lipid, sphingosine 1-phosphate, plays in normal brain function and repair in neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Fields of Research

  • Clinical Sciences - 320200
  • Neurosciences - 320900
  • Medicine, Nursing And Health Curriculum And Pedagogy - 390110

Teaching areas

Neuroscience;Clinical Anatomy;Neuroanatomy;Digital Health


  • 2023, International, Research Meetings Outreach Award, American Association for Anatomy
  • 2022, Swinburne, School Teaching Excellence Award, Swinburne University of Technology
  • 2022, Swinburne, Dean’s Award for School Culture, Swinburne Univedsity of Technology
  • 2021, Swinburne, Dean’s Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, Swinburne University of Technology


Also published as: Xiao, Junhua; Xiao, J.
This publication listing is provided by Swinburne Research Bank. If you are the owner of this profile, you can update your publications using our online form.

Recent research grants awarded

  • 2024: Simulated sailing: a new approach to ameliorate depression in patients with chronic diseases. *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2023: Targeting sphingolipid metabolism to combat the development of ME/CFS *; National Medical Program: ME/CFS Research Grants
  • 2022: Developing a new therapy to stall the progression of MS *; Bethlehem Griffith Research Foundation grants
  • 2022: Investigating the risk factors of medical complications during or immediate after electroconvulsive therapy for severe depression: a retrospective analysis *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant

* Chief Investigator