About the Project
Our overall objective is to understand the role of estrogen in the male autistic brain. In particular, the student will explore the consequence of loss of estrogen during development using genetically modified models in a variety of behavioural tasks that measure both anxiety and social cognition. We will also investigate signaling by a novel estrogen receptor called GPER1. Activation of GPER1 in the male brain can regulate the morphology of neurons; this is impaired in autism spectrum disorders. Again, measurements of neuronal morphology in cell culture models as well as genetically modified mouse models will allow us to decipher the molecular mechanism underlying steroid hormone-influenced ASD.
This project will offer insight into modeling a human disorder and may uncover a novel signaling pathway which elevates autism risk. This is an unique project that utilizes the expertise of Professor Bhismadev Chakrabarti, a social neuroscientist and autism expert and of Professor Claire Williams and Dr. Nandini Vasudevan, researchers interested in reward driven behaviours and social cognition respectively. This provides collaborative opportunities within both the School of Psychology and Biological Sciences at the University of Reading. The project would be of particular interest to students interested in the underlying causes of neural disorders such as autism. It would also be of interest to students interested in social behaviours, neuroendocrinology or translational neuroscience that is based on deficits in human behaviour. Students will use genetic, molecular and behavioural techniques in their study. The student will be part of vibrant endocrine and affective neuroscience groups at the University of Reading, with an opportunity to get training in teaching pedagogy. In addition, interested students will also have an opportunity to network with overseas and domestic collaborators.
For more information, please contact Dr Vasudevan ([Email Address Removed])
This post was edited on Sunday 4 October 2020 by the University of Reading, to remove an introductory paragraph that included inaccurate information.
Applications will be considered from any candidate who holds (or expects to obtain) at least a 2:1 or 1st Class Honours Degree or equivalent in a Biology-related or Psychology-related subject. Molecular Biological experience a plus, but not necessary.
If EU/UK student, please contact Dr. Vasudevan or Professor Chakrabarti in sufficient time to explore funding options. Informal enquiries to Dr. Vasudevan at [Email Address Removed] or Dr. Chakrabarti at [Email Address Removed]
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