Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences
(023) 8059 7651

Professor Vincent O'Connor BSc (Hons), PhD

Professor of Neurochemistry, Principal Investigator (Synaptic transmission & signalling)

Professor Vincent O'Connor's photo

Professor Vincent O'Connor is Professor of Neurochemistry within Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Career history

2012-present: Professor in Neurochemistry. Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, UK.
2008-2012: Reader. School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, UK.
2004-2008: Senior Lecturer. School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, UK.
1999-2004: Lecturer. School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, UK.
1997-1999: Post doctoral research fellow. Neurophysiology, National Institute for Medical Research, London, UK.
1992-1997: Post doctoral research fellow. Max-Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt, UK.

Academic qualifications

1992: PhD Physiology, Characterization of strychnine binding sites in the rodent spinal cord. University College London, UK.
1987: First Class BSc (Hons) in Physiology and Biochemistry. University of Reading, UK.

Research interests

Molecular mechanism of synaptic function and dysfunction

  • Synaptic degeneration
  • Genetic models of synaptic and neuronal dysfunction.
  • Molecular regulation of behaviour in model organism C.elegans.
  • Translating understanding in basic neurobiology to drug regulation to clinical conditions.
  • Translating understanding in basic neurobiology to chemical regulation of animal and plant parasites.

PhD research

Stress pathways: cause and effect in the ME7 model of neurodegeneration. (MRC/GKCT).
Food adaptive feeding behaviour the role of neuropeptide modulation (GKCT).
Mode of action studies for a novel anthelminthic (Industrial funding; Makhteshim-Agan).
Investigation potential anthelmintic compounds using C.elegans anthelminthic (Industrial funding; Bayer).
Novel microfluidic devices for functional investigation of C.elegans (University Funding).
Small heat shock protein regulation in protein folding induced neurodegeneration).

PhD Supervision

Euan Scott: Modelling ESKAPE bacteria’s pathogenicity in C.elegans. BBSRC Public Health England.

Samar Zarroug: Investigating feeding modulation in C.elegans. IfLS studentship.

Caroline Rivers: Emodepside mode of action in plant parasitic nematodes. BBSRC

Emily Feist: Mode of action studies of Fluensulfone. Adam

Ellie Kirby: Mode of action studies of Fluensulfone. Adama

Monika Kudelska: Investigating mechanisms of Neonicotinoid dependent regulation. GKCT.

Patricia Gonzalez: Modelling cholinesterase plasticity using C.elegans neuromuscular junction. DSTL.

Aleksandra Pitera: Injury responses in Tau mediated neurodgeneration. Alzheimer’s Society

Research group

Plants and Food Security

Affiliate research groups

Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, Neuroscience, Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG), Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS)

Research project(s)

Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying ApoE4-mediated neuronal vulnerability

Stress-induced transcriptional responses and their role in neurodegeneration

Characterisation of cue-dependent behaviour in plant parasitic nematodes: the neurobiology of host plant invasion

The neurobiology of plant parasitic nematodes.

Modelling decision making in C. elegans to understand neural mechanisms of major psychiatric disorders

Genetic differences have been identified in individuals with autism and schizophrenia. Here we are using the model organism C. elegans to investigate how these genetic differences bring about changes in the function of neural circuits.

Generation of a screening platform for the Cys-loop superfamily of ligand gated ion channels

Structural/functional studies of the ligand binding domains of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

Bioinformatic identification and physiological analysis of ethanol-related genes in C. elegans - Dormant

Using the model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans, to investigate the broad molecular, cellular and systems level impacts of acute and chronic ethanol treatment.

Exploiting C. elegans to provide insight into neural substrates of human alcohol dependence

Changes in the pattern of behaviour with increasing alcohol intake in humans reflect its complex effects on the brain.

Mammalian Neurodegeneration

ME7 Synaptopathy model: a protein aggregation disease to model Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic neurodegeneration

We are using a mouse model of prion disease which like Alzheimer’s is associated with the extracellular deposition of misfolded protein and an accompanying loss of synapses.

Metabotropic Glutamate receptors (mGluRs) models to investigate synaptic organization

Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlurs) are important determinants of glutamatergic transmission.

mGluRs model for genes to behaviour

These receptors are evolutionary conserved and we have been able to investigate how these molecules control simple behaviours in the 302 neuronal cell (approx 6000 synapse) simple nervous system of C.elegans.

Plasticity of behaviour for good and bad

We have established facets of worm behaviour that can be readily measured in response to food withdrawal, a mimic of a starvation response.

Plasticity through scaffolding molecules

The classic model used to study long-term changes is long-term potentiation (LTP), in the hippocampus. It is thought that the molecular changes that occur to bring about LTP are important for learning and memory.

Protein misfolding and the neuroprotective role of molecular chaperones

Molecular chaperones such as heat shock proteins (HSPs) regulate protein folding, misfolding, protein degradation and signalling pathways involved in neuronal death and survival.

Elucidating the mode of action of a novel nematicide on plant parasitic nematodes

Sort via:TypeorYear

Garland , P., Quraishe, S., French, P. and O’Connor, V. (2008) Expression of the MAST family of serine/threonine kinases. Brain Res.1197 12-19.

Holden-Dye, L., O’Connor, V., Hopper, N.A., Walker, R.J., Harder, A., Bull, K. and Guest, M. (2007) SLO, SLO, quick, quick, slow: calcium-activated potassium controls Caenorhabdtis elegans behaviour and acts as a target for antihelminitics. Invert. Neurosci. 7. 199-208.

Guest, M., Bull, K., Walker, R.J., Amliwala, K., O’Connor, V., Harder, A., Holden-Dye, L. and O’Connor, V. (2007) The calcium-activated potassium channel, SLO-1, is required for the action of the novel cyclooctadepsipeptide anthelmintic, emodepside, in C.elegans. Int J Parasitol. 37. 1577-1588.

Parnas, I., Rashkovan, G., O’Connor, V., El-Far, O., Betz, H. and Parnas, H. (2006) The role of NSF in Neurotransmitter release: A peptide microinjection study at the crayfish neuromuscular junction. J. Neurophysiol.

Gray, B.C., Skipp, P., O’Connor, V and Perry V.H. (2006) Increased expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein fragments and mu calpain activation within the hippocampus of prion infected mice. Biochem Soc Trans 34 51-54.

Holden-Dye, L., O’Connor, V and Stephenson, F.A. (2006) Molecules of the mind: integrating synaptic biochemistry to understand brain function. Biochem Soc Trans 34 43-44.

O’Connor, V. and Lee, A.G. (2002) Synaptic Vesicle fusion and synaptotagmin: 2B or not 2B. Nat Neurosci. 5. 823-824.

Program Manager

Neuropharmacology of CNS disorders Pharmacology/Biochemistry

Module Co-ordinator

BIOL2016 Pharmacology A
BIOL3021 Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience


BIOL2014 Neuroscience  
BIOL2016 Pharmacology  A
BIOL3014 Molecular Cell Biology  
BIOL3021 Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience  
BIOL2017 Pharmacology B 
BIOL3018 Molecular Pharmacology 
BIOL3025 Neuropharmacology of CNS disorders  
BIOL3048 Neurodegenerative Diseases 

Professional Affiliations

Graduate School
External Examiner. University of Surrey
External Examiner. University College London
Member of the SynGO consortium
Chief Scientific Officer. Neurivo
Sub-Editor. JBC
Review Editor. Invertebrate Neuroscience
Editorial Board. Journal of Biological Chemistry

Professor Vincent O'Connor
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 85/3049

Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings