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Research groups

Sonia Olivia Spitzer



My  main research interest is how the brain changes across the life span, especially in regards to NMDA receptor expression. I am taking a multidisciplinary approach trying to elucidate how different processes in the brain and body interact to make age-dependent modifications which might affect cognitive performance. My postdoctoral research project aims at understanding whether the composition of the gut microbiota early in life has long-term effects on synaptic activity and NMDA-receptor-dependent cognitive function. This is a multidisciplinary project, supervised by Phil Burnet (Psychiatry, Oxford). In DPAG, I'm collaborating with Ed Mann to investigate the relationship between gut microbiota and NMDA receptor expression using electrophysiology. I also use behavioural tests, in collaboration with David Bannerman (EP Oxford), metagenomics, in collaboration with Phil Poole (Plant Sciences, Oxford) and metabolomics, in collaboration with Johnathan Swann (Imperial, London) to answer fundamental questions about the relationship of gut microbiota and cognitive performance across the life span.

Before joining the Burnet group, I completed my PhD at the University of Cambridge, in Thora Karadottir’s group at the CSCR. I investigated how glutamate signalling in glia cells changes across the life span and in what way this affects myelination. Prior to that, I was part of Joost Verhaagen’s group at the Netherlands’ Institute of Neuroscience where I examined the use of an in vitro model of dopaminergic neurons to study Parkinson’s disease.