Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Congratulations are in order for Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Annie Park who has been awarded a prestigious Wellcome Early-Career Award.

Annie ParkDr Annie Park has been awarded a Wellcome Early-Career Award, a Wellcome Trust scheme for early-career researchers who are ready to develop their research identity and deliver shifts in understanding that could improve human life, health and wellbeing.  

Dr Park will pursue a 5-year research project entitled “Experience-dependent plasticity of dopaminergic neurons facilitates reward-specific signalling" in the Waddell Group based at the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour. She is working in collaboration with Professor Stephen Goodwin, also at the CNCB, Dr Christoph Treiber, who is soon to start a group in the University of Oxford's Department of Biology, and Dr Lisa Fenk from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence.

Dr Park investigates the key role that dopamine-releasing neurons play in encoding reward in the brain from mammals to insects. She says: "Not all dopamine neurons respond the same way to the experience of reward, and some do not respond at all. It is becoming increasingly apparent that specific classes of dopamine neurons are likely to be tuned to different types of reward, for example sugar vs. sex.

"Recent progress in nucleotide sequencing and whole-brain electron microscopy have provided a means to generate gene expression profiles for every neuron, and to understand how they are connected together in neural wiring diagrams (or connectomes).

"Applying these technologies to the dopaminergic system has revealed remarkable cellular heterogeneity on a molecular and neural circuit level. However, it remains unknown how these wiring and molecular differences correspond to the physiology of different types of dopamine neurons, and how dopamine neuron diversity contributes to reward-specific responses.

"Discoveries made from my work will provide a generalisable mechanistic understanding of how the brain encodes reward. This will eventually allow us to better understand disease states in which reward seeking is dysregulated, such as addiction or depression."

Similar stories

Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft to receive Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science

The Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science recognises women scientists with a stellar record of research accomplishments who also have made significant contributions to mentoring other women in science.

Unlocking the Secrets of cAMP Signalling in the Heart: A Pathway to Targeted Therapeutics

A new Zaccolo group study has revealed key new insights into the role of cAMP signalling in both healthy and disease settings within the heart. They have identified new cAMP nanodomains in cardiac muscle cells that have far reaching implications for the treatment of heart disease.

Physiological Society award to support prestigious CAJAL course for Raffaele Sarnataro

Congratulations are in order for Dr Raffaele Sarnataro who has been awarded a Professional Development Award by The Physiological Society. The award will support Dr Sarnataro’s selected participation on the Experimental Neuroscience Bootcamp 2023 delivered by the CAJAL Advanced Neuroscience Training Programme.

Armin Lak appointed Associate Professor of Integrative Neuroscience

The post is in association with a Tutorial Fellowship at St John's College.

Inaugural Fellowship to Charmaine Lang paves the way to improved human models for Parkinson's drug discovery

Congratulations are in order for Departmental Research Lecturer Dr Charmaine Lang who has been awarded the first jointly funded Senior Research Fellowship from Parkinson’s UK and Rosetrees Trust. With this award, Dr Lang will develop complex new induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) models that target the interaction between dopamine neurons and astrocytes in the brain and how these fail in the context of Parkinson's.