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Karen Dhillon

I am a final year PhD student studying the role of hypothalamic tanycytes in feeding behaviour.


I graduated with a degree in Biomedical Science from the University of Sheffield in 2016. During my final year, I specialised in neuroscience and carried out my final year project in Marysia Placzek's lab. Here, I analysed hypothalamic brain sections from WT and NrCAM (an adhesion molecule) KO mice.

Between my 2nd and 3rd years at Sheffield, I also carried out a summer project in Matthew Holley's lab. In this project, I cultured ear cells with GATA3-eGFP linkage and aimed to develop a clonal cell line. Additionally, I investigated factors that could be added to upregulate GATA3, which is a transcription factor involved in ear development.

MSc Placements

My first project was in Sebastien Perrier's lab, woking on cyclic peptides and polymers. The aim of this project was to develop cyclic peptide-polymer conjugates that would be selectively cleaved in the presence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa elastase. In this project, I learnt synthesised and characterised polymers, cyclic peptides, and made vesicles loaded with dye to test the membrane permeability of compounds.

My second proejct was with Robert Huckstepp. Here, I helped develop a model of sleep aponea in rats. After analysis of plethysmography, the successful generation of sleep aponea models was confirmed. Following this, I analysed blood usign inflammatory ELISA kits to study the link between sleep aponea and inflamamtory diseases.

My PhD project, with Nick Dale, aims to determine the role tanycytes play in feeding behaviour by analysing tanycyte firing in real time, using Inscopix microscopes. I look at the way in which the arginine and glucose influence food intake and energy balance via tanycyte activity. Additionally I have synthesised glucose biosensors to detect glucose entry into the 3rd ventricle of the hypothalamus.

Karen Dhillon

Karen Dhillon