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Dr Marie Holt

Dr Marie Holt

Contact Details

Dr Marie Holt

School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick

Research Groups


Research Interests

Stress is the mind and body’s response to threats, real and imagined, and continued stress can have detrimental effects on our health. Indeed, stress-related disorders, including depression and anxiety, are seen increasingly in our society. At its core, stress is beneficial: In response to stress our body launches a number of coping mechanisms, designed to increase our chances of survival. Our pulse and blood pressure increase and our behaviour changes, including how much we eat. This is normal and useful for us. However, after chronic, unrelenting stress our brains may respond inappropriately, and this can lead to cardiovascular disease and obesity.

My research focusses on how specific brain pathways control the normal healthy response to stress as well as the damaging effects of chronic stress. To do this, we use transgenic mice. Transgenic mice allow us to turn brain cells on and off while monitoring behaviour, pulse, and blood pressure during stress.

We use mouse models of chronic stress as well as state-of-the-art neuroscience tools to investigate the role of specific brain pathways in the regulation of 1) cardiovascular function; 2) anxiety-like behaviours; and 3) food intake and body weight

Supervision Style

I am outcome-oriented, supportive, and organised. I try to be aware of individual students’ needs and preferences and will strive to help you reach your goals

Provision of Training

I prefer to take responsibility for your technical training at first, leading to more independence later. We are a small lab, so I will do most of the training myself, but I expect everyone to support each other with learning the techniques they become particularly proficient in. Science relies on people paying it forward, so I also expect you to train others in the lab as your become more senior.

Progression Monitoring and Management

I firmly believe that progression monitoring and management isn’t just up to the preference of the supervisor, but should be decided based on the needs and wishes of the student. In addition, I fully expect this to change as you grow in independence and skill and as we come to understand each other better.

With time and as your confidence develops, I strive towards a hands-off, but supportive approach, where you take ownership of your own work and progression, but I am always available for help and to share in the disappointment of failed experiments or the excitement of new data.


As the lab is new, we will discuss amongst us the best way to communicate on a day-to-day basis. I expect this may include some communication outside normal hours, but I would encourage all my staff to maintain a healthy work-life balance. As an example, I rarely email on weekends or nights and unless urgent, I do not expect you to either. I am always happy to discuss any issues that are impacting your ability to fulfil your potential.

We keep an electronic lab book and keep all of our data on a shared drive. This ensures seamless sharing of protocols and data between lab members.

PhD Students can expect scheduled meetings with me:

In a group meeting

At least once per fortnight

In year 1 of PhD study

At least once per fortnight

In year 2 of PhD study

At least once per fortnight

In year 3 of PhD study

At least once per month

These meetings will be mainly face to face, and I am usually contactable for an instant response on every working day.

Working Patterns

The timing of work in my lab is completely flexible, and (other than attending pre-arranged meetings), I expect students to manage their own time.

Notice Period for Feedback

I need at least 1 week’s notice to provide feedback on written work of up to 5000 words.