I am now in my second year of my PhD with the division of Biomedical Sciences at Warwick Medical School. My research focuses on Perinatal Depression (PND), and the overall aim of my project is to further understand the predisposition to PND by examining the suitability of a range of potential biomarkers for use as a predictive tool. I am undertaking my research within the Pathology department at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW).
Prior to starting my doctoral studies, I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Genetics from The University of Nottingham. I have also undertaken research projects at MRC Harwell in the Mammalian Genetic Unit within the Metabolism & Inflammation group. Before I studied genetics, I previously worked in a women’s and children’s domestic violence refuge, which inspired my interest in maternal mental health. This project is the perfect research topic for me, as I combine both my interest in genetics and mental health, investigating the genetics and epigenetics of PND to identify risk factors and biomarkers.
In addition to my project, I also enjoy teaching Molecular Biology and Physiology modules in Undergraduate labs.
PhD Project Details
During my PhD I will profile women at risk of perinatal depression by investigating a number of different susceptibility mechanisms including:
• Genetic biomarkers - investigating HPA axis sensitivity by testing the genetic status of pregnant women for specific SNPs as potential predictors of PND
• Epigenetic biomarkers - studying differences in maternal DNA methylation during pregnancy
• Circulating biomarkers - investigating levels of circulating hormones, cytokines and neurosteroids/neurotrophic factors. This will aid detection the underlying disease (depression) by interrogating the strong links between depression and the inflammatory response
In addition the the laboratory based studies, I will also be using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), Sociodemographic questionnaires and Diet & Lifestyle questions to further elucidate the gene-environment interactions taking place in perinatal depression risk.
Finally, all biomarker data and questionnaire results will be combined with depression scores to aid the devlopment of a predictive algorithm which could indicate a woman's risk of perinatal depression.
Achievements & Public Engagement
- My project was selected to be part of the 'Artists and Academics' Exhibition as part of Coventry's bid for City of Culture 2021 - where my PhD came to life in the form of a sculpture
- Prize winner of the Warwick Blue Sky Award for an Outstanding Poster Presentation showing research innovation and creativity - Warwick Medical School 2017 PGR Symposium
My PhD project is supervised by Professor Dimitris Grammatopoulos
This project is funded by the Warwick Collaborative Postgraduate Research Scholarship and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW)