I am a BBSRC SWBio PhD student in the School of Medicine; my research area is imprinted genes. Imprinted genes are mammalian genes that are expressed from one parental allele rather than equally expressed by both parental alleles as in regular genes. Our lab group's research investigates the mechanisms of these imprinted genes within the brain and how they may be associated with neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders.
My PhD project focusses on investigating the influence of imprinted Grb10 on brain growth using a combination of techniques including neuroimaging, histology and transcriptomics. I graduated from Cardiff University in 2019 with a BSc in Genetics, including a placement year at the division of Cancer and Genetics (UHW). I remained at Cardiff University and completed a MSc in Bioinformatics in 2020.
The gene Grb10 belongs to a group called the 'imprinted genes'. These mammalian specific genes are expressed from one parental copy only - unlike most other mammalian genes that, on average, are expressed equally from both inherited parental copies. The unique epigenetic status and functional roles of imprinted genes has therefore led to them beings studied by molecular biologists, neuroscientists and evolutionary biologists. My PhD project aims to investigate their functional role. Imprinted genes are known to converge on key aspects of mammalian function, including growth. However, the project will focus on an uninvestigated area, specifically the role of imprinted genes in regulating brain growth, using the Grb10 gene as a model. Techniques ranging from rodent neuroimaging, histology and cutting-edge gene expression analysis will be utilised.