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DPAG is proud to announce a new collaboration, alongside St Anne's College and the Pranaiya and Arthur Magoffin Foundation (PAM Foundation), to research postpartum depression (PPD) and other perinatal mental health illnesses.

The new research is investigating the role that changes in the way genes are read and enacted upon by the body during and post pregnancy could contribute to PPD and postpartum psychosis (PPP). It is hoped that the outcome can lead to a better understanding of the biology of PPD and PPP and potentially lead to a targeted therapeutic.

St Anne’s Tutorial Fellow Associate Professor of Developmental Biology Francis Szele, who leads the Szele Group at DPAG, and DPhil student Jemima Becker are leading the research.

Prof Szele said that “Despite PPD and PPP’s prevalence, we have a limited understanding of the neurobiology. Stem cells in the brain generate new neurons, through a process called neurogenesis, which can be regulated by changes in the levels of maternal-relevant hormones. In addition, the dysfunction of these new neurons has been linked to a range of psychiatric disorders.”

Graduate student Jemima Becker explained that “‘Epigenetics’ refers to the manner in which the body regulates gene expression, the way the body ‘reads’ DNA instructions and responds. We are investigating the role that epigenetics plays in pregnancy-related neurogenesis, and how epigenetic disruption may contribute to PPD and PPP.”

This research has been made possible thanks to the kind donations made to PAM Foundation over the course of 2022 and 2023. Hamish Magoffin of PAM Foundation said: "Thank you to all those that have contributed towards the funding of this research and also the University of Oxford in placing importance on maternal mental health research. I hope that over the course of this initial three-year study we will better understand the causes of PPD and related illnesses, and develop more effective treatments to help the many that suffer.”

The Pranaiya & Arthur Magoffin Foundation (PAM Foundation) was established by Hamish Magoffin, husband of Pranaiya and father of Arthur, in their memories to assist families that are affected by perinatal mental health conditions. PAM Foundation seeks to achieve its goal through its three pillars I) Awareness and Education, II) Care, and III) Research and is particularly active in Thailand and the United Kingdom.