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I am a molecular geneticist with a background in molecular biology, genetics and neuroscience. My current research program is focused on the molecular processes that are required for formation and storage of memory, and how their disruption can lead to neurological disease. My teaching contributions include DNA structure and function, gene expression and developmental genetics within the BSc program.
My current research program is focused on the molecular processes that are required for formation and storage of memory, and how their disruption can lead to neurological disease. We examine memory processes in neurons at the genetic level by using genetic tools in combination with biochemical, anatomical and behavioural assays to determine how they function in normal memory. In order to carry out these studies we use the fruit fly Drosophila as a model. Drosophila has a small yet highly organised brain and is an ideal model for neuroscientific discovery as it provides the ability to combine genetic, biochemical and behavioural analyses in the same in vivo system.
We are currently investigating the histone deacetylase HDAC4, which is associated with both neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. A common symptom among these disorders is impaired cognitive function and, we have previously shown that HDAC4 plays a critical role in the regulation of long-term memory. HDAC4 is regulated via nucleocytoplasmic shuttling and is predominantly non-nuclear, localising to both axons and dendrites of neurons.We are examining the molecular roles of HDAC4 in the nucleus and cytoplasmic and how they contribute to the regulation of processes that promote and/or inhibit memory formation.
Health and Well-being
Field of research codes
Biological Sciences (060000):
Central Nervous System (110903):
Epigenetics (incl. Genome Methylation and Epigenomics) (060404): Genetics (060400):
Medical And Health Sciences (110000):
Project Title: A new role for HDAC4 in neuronal morphogensis and memory
Date Range: 2018 - 2021
Funding Body: Royal Society of New Zealand
Project Title: Genetic dissection of long-term memory formation
Date Range: 2013 - 2013
Funding Body: Massey University