Dr Simon Brooks
I am co-Module Leader on the undergraduate Human Neuroanatomy course (BI2301).
I have a long-standing interest in the basal ganglia disorders. Our core project is the systems analysis of Huntington's disease (HD) mouse lines, with a specific focus on how mutant huntingtin induces gene expression changes, and how these changes induce anatomical and behavioural abnormalities. The longitudinal characterisation of the mutant phenotype is measured at the behavioural level through the assessment of the development of the cognitive, behavioural (psychiatric) and motor abnormalities, with much of this behavioural characterisation run in operant chambers. These date are then correlated with cortical and striatal gene expression and neuroanatomical readouts (cell loss, atrophy, mHTT expression) to provide a longitudinal multi-level systems analysis of each mouse line. Bioinformatics are then used to identify correlated sets of disregulated genes to indicate aberrant systems and how these impact on the anatomical and behavioural change. This approach is designed to identify potential therapeutic targets. Crucially, this approach also indicates which of the numerous mouse lines are most suitable for specific therapeutic approaches. Allied to this programme are our preclinical trials using novel pharmacological probes, cellular transplantation and environmental enrichment.