Research

I am well known for my work on the molecular neuroscience of nicotine receptors, and in recent years has expanded my expertise to study the role of GABAA receptors in pathways involved in drug abuse and addiction, and the role of APOE in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.  I use sophisticated transgenic and knockout mouse models to study how molecules in specific cell populations of the brain are able to direct or modulate behaviour. 

 

GABAA receptors: GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Its action is to stop, or slow down, neuronal firing. Keeping brain activity in check through GABAA receptors (one of the sites where GABA acts) is essential for normal brain function.  By manipulating expression of these receptors in specific neuronal cell populations we are dissecting out the role of these receptors, and the function of neuronal pathways in behaviours related to drug abuse and addiction. 

 

APOE: The gene for APOE-E4, is the highest know risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease.  We have shown in human imaging and cognition studies that APOE4 confers a paradoxical enhancement in performance of attentional tasks in early adulthood. In my lab we are currently developing mouse models to study the function of human APOE variants in cognition and neurodegeneration.

 

My research is funded by the Medical Research Council and the Alzheimer’s Society.