Targeting gut microbiota in an animal model of schizophrenia: new hope for translational therapeutics

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Anthony Hannan
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Carolina Gubert

Summary The Epigenetics and Neural Plasticity Laboratory at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health We explore how genes and the environment combine via experience-dependent plasticity in the healthy and diseased brain. Our research includes models of specific neurological and psychiatric disorders which involve cognitive and affective dysfunction, investigated at behavioural, cellular and molecular levels so as to identify pathogenic mechanisms and novel therapeutic targets. Most recently, this has included studies of intergenerational and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance.

Project Details

Importantly, 60% of schizophrenic patients are treatment-resistant and this subpopulation has the highest levels of impaired functioning and rates of hospitalization. Interestingly, chronic gastroenterological issues such as gut inflammation are common co-morbid symptoms of schizophrenia. The potential role for the microbiome in schizophrenia pathogenesis had been highlighted, which is now established to be dysregulated in schizophrenic patients compared to healthy controls. Thus, the collective evidence indicates a crucial role for the gut microbiome in schizophrenia pathogenesis, but the potential implications for treatment-resistant patients remains to be investigated. This proposal will explore the status of the gut microbiota in a well-studied mouse model of schizophrenia, followed by an exploration of how direct modulation of gut microbiota influences the behavioural response. Our findings will inform the role of gut microbiota dysbiosis in schizophrenia, uncovering new aspects of schizophrenia pathology that could lead to novel therapeutic targets to improve the treatment of the cognitive, psychiatric and social symptoms. More broadly, there could also be implications for improving therapeutic approaches for other psychiatric disorders. This project will use microbial, environmental and pharmacological modulation, cognitive and behavioural tasks, as well as cellular and molecular approaches, including genetics, genomics and bioinformatics tools.

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

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