The oxytocin system in sugar and alcohol intake

Research Opportunity
Honours, Master of Biomedical Science
Project Status
Medicine and Radiology
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Philip Ryan Personal web page
Prof Andrew Lawrence Personal web page

Project Details

Oxytocin is well recognized for its role in labour, lactation and social interaction; however, it is also known to be involved in regulating fluid and salt intake. We have recently discovered a population of neurons that express the receptor for oxytocin and are located in the parabrachial nucleus of the hindbrain, which robustly suppress water and saline (NaCl) intake, but not food intake.

We are now interested in investigating whether these neurons may also play a role in suppressing sugar, alcohol and non-caloric saccharin intake, which may suggest a role in addictive-like behaviours. We will use genetically modified mice that allow us to selectively manipulate this neuronal population by techniques such as optogenetics and DREADDs (designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs). We are also interested in directly observing these neurons using calcium imaging techniques, which allow us to visualize activity in the neurons in real-time while the mice are actively drinking.

The project will also involve anatomical and electrophysiological studies to map out the neural circuitry of fluid intake.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Research Opportunities

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

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Key Contact

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


Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

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