This year 13 PhD students in their 3rd and 4th year presented their work on Edinburgh Neuroscience Day in a 3 minute thesis talk competition. The prize for one of the best talk, supported by Edinburgh Neuroscience, was awarded to Katie Marwick to aid attendance of international scientific meeting.
Katie Marwick presented her PhD project on 'NMDA receptor channelopathies'.
Some people with brain disorders like intellectual disability, autism and epilepsy, have mutations in their genetic code that their parents don’t. It is thought that these mutations might be the cause of their disorder. However, it is not known exactly how the change in the gene leads to a change in brain function.
Katie investigated how mutations in an important neurotransmitter receptor (the N-methyl-D-aspartate-receptor (NMDAR)) affect the receptor's properties. She has found that the mutations alter physiologically fundamental receptor properties, like how much signal is passed when the receptor is activated. Identifying these changes may allow future treatments for carriers of these and similar mutations.