• Source: Scopus
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20072020

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Personal profile

Research Biography

Publications: You can find my publications via Google Scholar

Background: I received a BSc in Psychology from the University of Leeds in 2003, and an MRC-funded MSc (2004) and PhD (2008) in Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, King's College London. In 2012 I moved to the University of Adelaide, and in 2016 to Flinders University as a Matthew Flinders Fellow. Here I head the Behavioural Genetic and Environmental Mechanisms (Behavioural GEMs) Lab. For current projects please see Research and Supervision in the tabs above.

Current Research:
My research focuses on incorporating environmental factors, such as life-stress, with genetic variation in depression, psychosis (bipolar disorder and schizophrenia), and cognition. This work extends to understanding if factors such as stress also contribute to physiological factors such as obesity, or infertility.

The aim of my work is to understand how it is the environment interacts with our genetics, and with ourselves, at the biological level, and how risk can be passed from one generation to the next. Epigenetics provides a possible avenue by which the environment can influence how our genes are expressed, and my recent research investigates this variation in behaviour and psychological disorders, in conjunction with gene-environment interactions. This includes investigating DNA methylation and small RNAs associated with disease risk/protective factors as well as the disease, and their functional impact on gene-expression, protein levels, and/or neuroimaging.

Research Interests

Behavioural Genetic and Environmental Mechanisms (Behavioural GEMs) Lab:
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Understanding genomic and environmental risk / protective mechanisms in behaviour, Including:

  1. Role of childhood maltreatment, life stress, and exercise in psychological disorder (e.g. depression, psychosis), and cognition: gene-environment interaction, and epigenetic regulation (DNA methylation and small RNAs) that impact on risk/protection for a disorder, or cognitive outcomes.
  2. Behavioural genomics, in particular eating disorders, depression, and psychosis (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) (GWAS and sequencing).
  3. Understanding (epi)genetic and environmental impact within context of behavior, in particular immunity / inflammation (i.e. immunogenetics and proteomics), and comorbid physical illness.

Our research focuses on incorporating environmental factors (i.e. childhood maltreatment), with genetic and epigenetic analyses in eating disorders, depression, and psychosis (bipolar disorder and schizophrenia), and in longitudinal population cohorts. Our work aims to understand how the environment interacts with our genes at the biological level. Epigenetics provides a possible avenue by which the environment can interact with our genome. We investigate DNA methylation and small RNAs associated with disease risk/protective factors as well as the disease, and their functional impact on gene-expression, protein levels, and/or neuroimaging.

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