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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

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

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This PhD studentship takes a multidisciplinary approach at addressing the molecular mechanisms underlying alcohol addicition. The nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, is an established model system for studying physiological and behavioural impacts of alcohol. These techniques are being combined with bioinformatics to relate findings back to mammalian systems.

Comparative genomics facilitates the use of model organisms to investigate human addiction.
C. elegans is an excellent model.

There is an urgent need to better understand the biological mechanism that underpins addiction. When factoring health and societal burdens, alcohol is recognised amongst the most harmful addictive drugs. Despite its simple structure, alcohol is known to impact both acutely and chronically on several molecules (e.g. ion channels, transmitter receptors, signalling enzymes) to modify the circuits that control complex behaviour. In humans, complex interactions between these molecular, cellular and systems level targets underlie the euphoric, depressive, and anaesthetic effects of alcohol and the more complex outcomes of tolerance, withdrawal and drug seeking.

This multidisciplinary project investigates the broad molecular, cellular and systems level impacts of acute and chronic ethanol in the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, as a model; many of the mammalian molecular and cellular targets implicated in the action of alcohol are conserved in this organism. The work involves building a database in which key facets of ethanol and its targets are collated and from which a comparative genomics bioinformatic approach is being used to predict key molecular targets of ethanol action for experimental investigation in C. elegans.


This work was funded by a Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust PhD studentship (2008-2011).


 Dr Richard Edwards, Prof Lindy Holden-Dye and Dr Vincent O'Connor.

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Related research groups

Biomedical Sciences
Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
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