Transgenerational effects of paternal stress on offspring behaviour and cognition

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
Dr Terence Pang
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Anthony Hannan

Summary My group is interested in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders, particularly stress-linked conditions such as anxiety disorder and major depression. We discovered that exposure of the paternal generation to stress can yield transgenerational effects on offspring behaviour and physical health. Our research takes a multidisciplinary approach by combining rodent behavioural studies, gene expression profiling of brain tissue, blood hormone assays, and screening of male reproductive health parameters.

Project Details

Paternal transgenerational inheritance is a fast-growing area of research with implications for how we may address mental and physical health issues of future generations. Our lab discovered that prolonged exposure of the male germ line to low-level stress alters the sperm epigenome and is associated with the emergence of anxiety and depression-related behaviours in offspring and grand-offspring. Subsequent studies have uncovered differential expression of neurotrophic and stress-response genes in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, providing the rationale to investigate if cognitive function of the progeny is compromised. We are also broadening our study of offspring behaviour by examining how the animals behave under stressful situations. Students will engage in studies of a unique mouse model of paternal stress and be trained in rodent behavioural testing, anatomical dissections and histological studies, systematic assessment of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis integrity, and gene expression profiling. There is also scope for additional research of beneficial stress-modifying lifestyle factors and pharmacotherapies to moderate the transgenerational effects of ancestral stress exposure.

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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