Instructor and manager of the MNDBC facility at Boston Children's Hospital
I am an experienced in vivo neuroscientist and manager, having worked in the field of behavioral pharmacology for 25 years and have transitioned from academia to pharmaceutical drug discovery and most recently back to academia. I am currently an Instructor and also the manager of two behavioral Core facilities at Boston Children’s Hospital; the Pain Core and the Neurodevelopmental Behavior Core (NBC). I am Chair of a Special Interest Group of the IASP (pain and pain management in non-human subjects). I have published 33 papers, 8 reviews/book chapters and edited a special edition of a journal. I have expertise in the pre-clinical evaluation of behavioral manipulations and the use of therapeutic agents for CNS disorders using behavioral, neurochemical and physiological techniques. I was awarded my doctorate in psychopharmacology at Guy’s Hospital where I studied the behavioral and neurochemical consequences of acute withdrawal from chronic benzodiazepine treatment. I concentrated primarily on the anxiogenic response to withdrawal (using assays such as social interaction) and related the behavioral changes to modulation of the serotonin and GABA systems in the brain. Before joining the pharmaceutical industry I spent 3 years as a post-doc elucidating the role of pre and postsynaptic 5-HT1A receptors in different regions of the brain showing that presynaptic receptors elicit anxiolytic effects in rats and postsynaptic receptors elicit anxiogenic responses. I also performed in vivo microdialysis studies showing that acute withdrawal from diazepam caused increases in 5-HT levels in the hippocampus, directly supporting earlier ex-vivo work from my PhD. I began my career in drug discovery working at Parke Davis in Cambridge, UK where I worked on the behavioral and neurochemical consequences of antagonizing bombesin (BB1) receptors. My team used a broad range of techniques to show that BB1 antagonists reduced anxiety in rats and that the mechanism may well be via reduced levels of 5-HT in the limbic system. After Parke Davis I worked at Organon, UK as a team leader in Neurobiology and managed a team of behavioral pharmacologists and neurochemists supporting projects designed to discover novel antidepressants and compounds that could reverse cognitive impairments in patients with schizophrenia (one of these projects was advanced to the clinic). We used a number of techniques to evaluate cognition in rats such as novel object recognition, delayed non-matching to position and 5-choice serial reaction task as well as other tests to probe other aspects of CNS function. My team also supported translational efforts by measuring neurochemical content of CSF sampled from conscious rodents. From Organon I moved to the Pain and Sensory Disorders Department, Pfizer, UK where I worked as lead scientist on work package 2 of the IMI Europain pre-competitive consortium to develop new models and end point measures for assessing pain in rodents. Specifically I developed a new, non-evoked end point for measuring pain in rats which is now being used by a number of laboratories around the world. I also re-introduced the microdialysis technique specifically applying it to the study of analgesics and pain on levels of glutamate in the anterior cingulate region of the brain of conscious rodents and also spinal cord of anaesthetized rodents. My background in behavioral analysis of rodent behavior and my experience in drug discovery gives me a unique opportunity to provide research input to translational projects across a broad spectrum of diseases being studied at Boston Children’s Hospital using the chronic pain and neurodevelopmental behavior cores.