My primary interst is the interplay between the neurones and the most abundant glial population of the central nervous sytesm - the astrocytes. Together with my colleagues, AG Teschemacher (UOB) and AV Gourine (UCL) we are woriking to establish functional contribution of astrocytes to various functions within mammalian brainstem including regulation of the autonomic functions and respiration. We are also interested in the interplay between astrocytes and central noradrenergic neurones, which costitute one of the most powerful modulatory mechanisms of the brain. Indeed, central noradrenergic mechanisms are involved in regulation of vigilance, cognition, sleep, appetite, pain and a variety of other essential functions. Our main hypothesis is that central noradrenergic neurones intimately communicate with astrocytes and via this link affect brain function. We have also demonstrated that astrocytes located in the ventral medulla play an important role in the chemo-sentitivity of the brain, one of the most important central homeostatic mechanisms. Finally we are interested in the neuro-glia-vascular interface, which controls the flow of blood and chemicals in and out of the brain. One of the projects we are currently carrying out looks at the glial contribution ot fMRI, a powerful imaging technology commonly used these days to assess brain function. The other prominent theme is how changes in neuro-glia-vascular interface affect autonomic regulation and contribute to hypertension and other cardio-vascular disease via increases in sympathetic tone.
We actively use and develop optogenetics, viral gene transfer, confocal imaging, fluorescent genetically encoded indicators and other modern technologies.
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