Harry goes to Parliament!!
Final year PhD student Harry Potter presented his research on the role of the maternal environment in a rat model of schizophrenia at the 2020 STEM for Britain event. The annual event, previously known as SET for Britain, took place on 9th March in the House of Commons during British Science week. Attracting about 100 MPs each year, STEM for Britain is described as an event which aims “to raise the profile of Britain's early-stage researchers at Westminster by engaging Members of both Houses of Parliament with current science, engineering and mathematics research being undertaken in the UK”.
Cognition in schizophrenia
1st year PhD student Jess Brown has published her first scientific communications article, explaining the importance of developing treatments for cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. This is, in fact, the subject of her PhD: Development of novel and selective glutamate receptor modulators for the treatment of cognitive impairment in schizophrenia. Jo and Mike are her Manchester supervisors, with Richard Ngomba at Lincoln. Watch this space for her latest results and more publications!
Harry wins a bursary
Well done, Harry, for being awarded a bursary to enable him to attend the Mechanisms and Evolution of Intergenerational Change in Cambridge this week. He will be presenting a talk and poster:
...and winning a runner-up poster prize as a result!
Life After b-neuro
“After completing my PhD under the supervision of Professor Neill, and while working for b-neuro, I will start a postdoc position in New York at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in September 2019. My research will be focusing on the identification of neural circuits in parental behaviour and how they respond to stress, using in vivo calcium imaging, behavioural assays and molecular imaging.”
“I am now a post-doctoral research associate working with Dr Samuel Barnes in the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) at Imperial college London. We use a combination of in-vivo calcium imaging, electrophysiological and behavioural techniques to investigate the dynamics of homeostatic neural plasticity in aging and neurodegeneration”.
In an exciting new development, Jo has been appointed a committee member of Drug Science. Jo is investigating how scheduling restrictions for currently illegal drugs are hindering scientific research.
See our recent publication Restrictions on drugs with medical value: Moving beyond stalemate, following a survey of BAP members.
We presented our latest findings at BAP 2019, in sunny Manchester in July. We showcased our work on the beneficial effects of exercise and environmental enrichment, and of novel KV3.1/3.2 modulators in our rat model for schizophrenia symptomatology. We also showed exciting new results with our rat maternal immune activation model and investigations into the pharmacological modulation of attention. See the posters…
- Effect of modulating dopaminergic and noradrenergic neurotransmission on attention and impulsivity
- Handling in Rats as a form of Environmental Enrichment prevents subchronic Phencyclidine-induced cognitive deficits
- Investigation into the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive function in rodents
- Comparing novel selective Kv3.1/3.2 channel modulators for efficacy to restore cognitive and social behaviour deficits of relevance to schizophrenia in an animal model
- The prenatal maternal response to immune activation programmes early postnatal and adult cognitive deficits
Photographs courtesy of BAP
One of the highlights of BAP 2019 was the welcome address by Jeff Smith, Labour MP for Manchester Withington. Jeff is chair of the APPG for drug law reform, and recently launched the Labour campaign for drug law reform with fellow MP, Thangam Debonnaire.
Jo with world cannabinoid expert Prof Roger Pertwee, immediately prior to the symposium, Novel therapeutic uses of cannabinoids.
Jo chaired the NC3R's supported non-clinical session on Sunday 14th July, PsychophaRRRmacology - enhancing research outcomes by applying the 3Rs
Jo chaired the second short orals session From connections to cells and back again. These are short talks selected on the strength of the presenter's abstract, also displayed as posters at the meeting.
Nagi was delighted to have his work on the Autifony programme selected to be presented as a talk and a poster. His short orals session was called Social and emotional cognition.
Street Drugs Events
Since Jo organised the first in this series, Street Drugs in the Northern Powerhouse, there have been 2 more events. The first, Street Drugs in the Big Smoke, was held at London Metropolitan University on 1st November 2018, hosted by Dr James Morgan. Read their write-up, London Met hosts Innovative Drugs Policy conference.
The second, Is the Dragon Still Smoking? Street Drugs Wales, was held at the University of South Wales in Cardiff on 25th June 2019, hosted by Barod and Kaleidoscope. Read Barod's write-up, Street Drugs Conference Wales 2019: Is the Dragon Still Smoking?
The next Street Drugs symposium will be held on 23rd January 2020 in Bristol. Details to follow.
B-Neuro at BAP 2018
Photographs courtesy of BAP
Jo hands over the President's medal to Allan Young of King's.
Jo will be Past President until 2020.
Jo and some of the team at the reception, before the Gala Dinner.
Ben Netherwood (2nd from left) and Lucy Farrow (far right) receive their awards for Best Undergraduate Poster from Mitul Mehta, BAP Meetings Secretary (2nd from right).
Jo accepts the BAP Public Communications award on behalf of Antonio Gonzalez, who couldn't attend.
Harry Potter (middle) accepts his poster prize from Mitul Mehta (2nd from right).
Antonio Gonzalez wins yet more awards!
“I am thrilled to have been awarded the BPS student contribution to pharmacology prize and the BAP junior public communication prize.
“During my time at b-neuro, I carried out a study investigating the effects of exercise on cognition in a rodent model of relevance to schizophrenia. Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of contributing this work to various national scientific conferences, during which I gained an appreciation of the importance and merits of improving my ability to communicate science to audiences of all educational backgrounds.
“I am excited to further my contributions to science over time, as I continue my studies and begin my career.”
B-Neuro at BAP 2018
b-neuro staff and students will be presenting our cutting-edge research at the British Association for Psychopharmacology meeting in London on 22-25th July.
We will be presenting research on further development of our sub-chronic PCP model for schizophrenia:
- from spatial memory deficits and non-spatial memory deficits
- novel drug target efficacy
- in-depth electrophysiological analysis revealing communication deficits between prefrontal cortex and hippocampus
In our new neurodevelopmental model of maternal immune activation we show:
- disruption in placental biology
- maternal behaviour and offspring communication
- reduced parvalbumin and cognitive deficits emerging in mature adulthood
- a two-hit model with THC in adolescence
Street Drugs in the Northern Powerhouse
In March this year, Jo organised a one-day symposium for the public on street drugs: “Street Drugs in the Northern Powerhouse: Perspective & Policy”, where we heard from experts in the field about ground-breaking work on harm reduction and the argument for regulation of street drugs.
Find out more from the following links:
- Jo's write-up of the event for the BAP Blog
- The Big Issue write-up
- An article written by former undercover police officer, Neil Woods
- David Nutt’s talk on YouTube
b-neuro prize winners!
Hager Kowash is a b-neuro supported PhD student and University of Manchester (UoM) President’s Scholar. Her work focuses on the maternal foetal interface in our maternal immune activation (mIA) model. She is investigating the placental and yolk sac response to mIA and its subsequent role and interaction with the developing fetal brain. Our overall aim is to understand the mechanisms that underlie the neurobiology of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as schizophrenia, in later life.
- Hager gave an oral presentation last September at the International Federation of Placental associations (IFPA) conference, receiving a Harold Fox New Investigator Award for her abstract.
- At the UoM Postgraduate Summer Research Showcase 2018, she won the people’s choice award for her postgraduate research image.
- Hager has been awarded travel grants from the Society of Reproduction and Fertility (SRF) and UoM President’s Doctoral Scholar (PDS) scheme to attend IFPA 2018 in Tokyo, Japan, where she has been selected to receive a Y.W. (Charlie) Loke Award for Early Career Researchers based on her abstract submission.
Top Poster for Harry Potter
“I was delighted to win the prize for best poster at the School of Biological Sciences showcase day, on Friday 12th January.
“My poster presented data on placental gene expression in a rodent model for schizophrenia, as a part of my PhD project.
“The project forms part of a cross-faculty collaboration between the Divisions of Evolution & Genomic Sciences, Pharmacy & Optometry, and Developmental Biology & Medicine.”
See his poster.
Antonio Gonzalez wins the Dom Spina Prize
Bath placement student Antonio Gonzalez won the Veritas Pharma Inc. Dom Spina Prize, at the recent British Pharmacological Society meeting.
The award was for one of the best late-breaking abstracts, for his exercise project, conducted at b-neuro.
See his poster.