I graduated with BSc Pharmacy and MSc Pharmacology degrees from the University Of Kwazulu Natal South Africa and worked for 6 years as a community and hospital pharmacist. I then obtained a PhD in Neurobiology from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Following postdoctoral training with Prof Rita Valentino, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Prof Peter Somogyi FRS, University of Oxford, I was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth in 2009 and promoted to Reader in 2016 and Professor in 2020.
I head the Neurochemical Anatomy & Psychopharmacology research group and lead on the delivery of neuroscience and neuropharmacology teaching, at all levels, in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences.
The focus of my research is on the interaction between emotional stress and neurotransmitter systems within specific neural networks, within both the brain and peripheral nervous system, at the cellular, circuit and behavioural levels.
I am particularly interested in the interaction of early life stress and the ageing process, with a view to understanding how this confers a vulnerability to developing mental illnesses (anxiety; depression; drug addiction) and age-related neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s).
The neurobiology of the associated symptoms are investigated both within the brain and gastrointestinal tract.
I exploit a range of techniques, including:
1) high resolution immunolocalisation of neurotransmitter systems and ion channels, using confocal and electron microscopy, in rodent and post-mortem human brain samples;
2) electrophysiology (patch clamp recording in acute brain slices; in vivo electrophysiological recording of brain activity followed by juxtacellular labelling of the recorded neuron for post-hoc morphological and neurochemical interrogation; gastrointestinal contractility assays) and; 3) animal models of behaviour (early life stress; social defeat stress; assays of anxiety and depression) and disease (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s).