Adrian Harwood

Based at the Neuroscience Research Division, School of Biosciences.

Research interests

Drug treatments for psychiatric disorders, such as lithium and the antipsychotics, have been available for more than 60 years, yet still have significant limitation, side effects and are only effective in around 70% of patients. To improve on this situation, we need to both understand the therapeutic mechanisms of current drugs, and explore the cell biological basis of the origins of psychiatric disorders. My research programme uses cell biological and molecular genetic techniques to investigate the mechanisms of action of lithium and other mood stabilizers, which are used to treat bipolar mood disorder. This has revealed a novel signal pathway that mediates an epigenetic mechanism of gene control.

My group investigates the cell biological effects of drugs (lithium and VPA) and how they are modulated by epigenetic mechanisms in a range of biological systems, including primary neuronal cultures and transgenic mice. We expertise in a range of molecular cell biological techniques: including cell culture, fluorescence and time-lapse microscopy, genetic manipulation and biochemistry, next-generation sequencing and bio-informatics.

Available PhD projects

  1. The control of neuronal development by the CHD chromatin re-modelling proteins and hostome methylation
  2. The effects of lithium on the PIP3 signalling and neuronal function.
  3. The stimulatory effects of lithium, VPA and carbamazepine on neuronal stem cell formation and maturation.
  4. The use of mood stabilizers to stimulate macro-autophagy and clearance of protein aggregates in the treatment of neurodegeneration.

Research keywords

Neuronal cell biology & neuronal stem cells, psychopharmacology, epigenetics.