Postpartum depression afflicts 15-20% of women. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most common antidepressants prescribed to women to treat perinatal depressive episodes. Both maternal depression and maternal SSRI use may have deleterious effects on childhood development. For example, maternal SSRI use has been linked to increased risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). We have a preclinical model of postpartum depression, where we expose rat moms to the stress hormone corticosterone (CORT). We show that these moms have depressive-like behaviour and reduced brain plasticity. I will be exploring the effects of maternal corticosterone and SSRI exposure on offspring behaviour, neurogenesis, microbiome, and inflammation, as well as how treatment can affect dam microbiome and inflammation. Specifically, we will test for any social deficits in offspring using the social interaction test. Oxytocin (OT) increases social behaviour in rodents, and it is currently under investigation as a possible therapy for children diagnosed with ASD. Here we intend to test whether OT given to offspring during adolescence can help negate the negative effects of maternal corticosterone and SSRI exposure.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
Getting all the data, studying for COMP, and writing papers.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
Vancouver is not as cold as Toronto, and how big the UBC campus is.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I wanted to explore the city of Vancouver and British Columbia as a whole, while at the same time the Galea lab shared similar interests to what I was studying in my undergrad. I wanted to continue within the field of neuroendocrinology as I personally am very interested in how the endocrine system affects brain and behaviour. I choose to come to this lab because I believe this is a great lab under Dr. Galea's guidance, and it can help me prepare for any future that I want in regards to conducting my own research.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
The specialization in neuroscience.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
Getting a job.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
Great opportunities for outreach such as volunteering, and just being prepared for writing grants.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Jobs and school taught me to work hard.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
Reading classic novels, play with my cat, eating, walking around metrotown, watching TV, and going to the gym.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Listen to your PI and do as they say for the first couple of years. In the later years, when you have some experience under your belt, then start challenging your PI. Also ask lots of questions about anything.