My previous education comprised BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology and Masters in Research in Neuroscience. I have completed both degrees at Newcastle University. During my MRes in 2018, I have completed my project at WCMR and received a PhD offer as well as the Newcastle University Overseas Research Scholarship award for my PhD studies, which commenced in September 2018.
Dissecting the molecular mechanisms underpinning hyperexcitable neuronal networks in mitochondrial disease.
Neurological disorders are commonly seen in patients with mitochondrial disease, for example, ataxia, epilepsy and stroke-like episodes. Epilepsy in mitochondrial disease is prevalent and debilitating. It may also become refractory to anti-epileptic medication, associated with poor patient prognosis.
My project aims to test a hypothesis of whether inhibitory parvalbumin-expressing interneurons are highly vulnerable to mitochondrial dysfunction and whether bioenergy failure within those cells leads to disinhibition and dysregulation of neuronal networks, resulting in subsequent elevated propensity for seizure generation.
To achieve this, mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome is modelled selectively in inhibitory interneurons using a mouse model. The main aims of my PhD include characterising this novel model at electrophysiological, neuropathological and molecular levels. Data obtained using the mouse model of mitochondrial epilepsy will be compared to human post mortem data of patients with mitochondrial disease in the second year of my project. This model would allow screening for potential treatment against epilepsy in mitochondrial disease context.