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The talks given by Postdoctoral Research Scientists and Graduate Students highlighted the full range of research in DPAG, spanning molecular and cellular neuroscience all the way to systems neuroscience.

Today we saw the depth of talent in the Department's Neuroscience community. Having the opportunity to get together as a whole community is very important as students, postdocs and group leaders interact with common purpose in understanding how our brain works. From single cell transcriptomics to awake behavioural studies illustrated the breadth of intellectual endeavour. - Head of Department, David Paterson 

On Monday 3 June 2019, researchers from more than 25 Neuroscience groups across the Department came together at St Anne's College for a day of talks to celebrate the diversity of the theme’s research.

In a departmental first, the Neuroscience Theme Day provided an opportunity for researchers across a wide range of disciplines to meet and discuss their work, share ideas and potentially inspire both their own projects and others. The day also provided the opportunity for Postdoctoral Research Scientists and Graduate Students to take centre stage and deliver the majority of the talks, with each speaker introducing the next, enabling a relaxed and collaborative atmosphere. 

One of the organisers, Director of DPAG's Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, Professor Andrew King, outlined the ethos of the day: “We wanted this to be a celebration of the breadth and quality of neuroscience research in the department, delivered by those who actually do the experiments. We therefore invited postdoctoral scientists and DPhil students to speak, rather than their more senior colleagues and supervisors. A lot of people said that this worked really well.”

Andy King.jpg

DPAG's neuroscience community first heard talks from three Postdoctoral Research Scientists: Dr Siv Vingill on her lab's model for studying the role of a protein called α-synuclein in Parkinson's, Dr Anna Hoerder-Suabedissen on her team's model designed to observe the effects of knocking out the protein SNAP25 on the developing brain, and Dr Aaron Allen on his work exploring whether there are differences between the male and female nervous systems.

I got many interesting questions raising issues that were really relevant to me. - Dr Siv Vingill


After a short break, the audience reconvened to hear Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Jackson Smith explore how the brain passes information accurately from one area of the cerebral cortex to another, Oxford Nuffield Medical Fellow Dr Samuel Nayler demonstrate the ability to develop an innovative new model for understanding disease of the cerebellum, and DPhil Student Bradley Roberts on studying the role of a brain cell type called astrocytes in Parkinson's.

It's so good to get all the neurosciences together and have discussions we don't normally have on a daily basis. - Bradley Roberts


After lunch, Prof Francis Szele introduced new insights into Schizophrenia and Autism disorders, followed by three Graduate Students: Andrew Shelton on his research to learn more about the brain's claustrum, Alex Ivanov on how the auditory system adapts to different acoustic environments, and Cristina Blanco Duque on her work finding new ways of detecting and studying sleep spindles, plus Postdoctoral Research Scientist Johannes Dahmen on finding a specialised pathway in the auditory system that can detect novel sounds.

Each talk attracted a range of engaged and detailed questions, which several speakers noted were very useful, providing valuable food for thought and an opportunity to articulate the results of their research outside of their laboratory. Other researchers who attended as part of the audience also benefited from hearing the talks, drawing inspiration for their own work and sharing ideas.

The main take home message for me was actually the diversity of research going on at DPAG. I've got to know more about what's going on and I think my own project could benefit from some of techniques discussed today. - Javier Gilbert-Jaramillo, DPhil Student

The last talk of the day was delivered by Prof Sarah De Val, who presented an overview of the Department's Athena SWAN initiatives and how these support both the research and working environment of DPAG Researchers.

More details on the individual talks can be found here.