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Ninewells Hospital & Medical School
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Leigh graduated from the University of Dundee in 2016 with a First-Class Honours degree in Pharmacology before undertaking a PhD in Dr Jenni Harvey’s lab later that year. Leigh’s project investigates the role of estrogens on excitatory synaptic transmission at Temporoammonic (TA) – CA1 synapses within the hippocampus.
PhD Title: Role of estrogens in excitatory synaptic transmission at Temporoammonic (TA)-CA1 synapses.
Estrogens, a class of steroid hormones, are primarily produced within the ovaries and are known for their effects on reproductive function. Additionally, estrogen production is also found in peripheral tissues such as the brain, and estrogen receptors (ERs) are located within brain regions such as the hypothalamus, the amygdala and the hippocampus. This non-traditional source of estrogen production highlights estrogen’s potential to modulate cognitive functions. Estrogenic effects on hippocampal synaptic plasticity have been investigated in Schaffer Collateral (SC) –CA1 synapses however, in the anatomically distinct Temporoammonic (TA)-CA1 synapse, these effects remain relatively unclear.
The aim of this project is to determine the role estrogens play in hippocampal excitatory synaptic transmission using techniques such as electrophysiology and immunocytochemistry. Understanding the role of estrogen, and its receptors, at TA-CA1 synapses may hold crucial importance. Despite being the lesser researched of the pathways, the TA pathway is believed to be responsible for episodic memory and it has been documented that dysfunction to an individual’s episodic memory is amongst the earliest signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Therefore, this project will provide a better insight into estrogenic regulation of synaptic function in CNS health and disease.