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Raquel Pinacho

MSc, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

My research focuses on the study of the biological mechanisms underlying vulnerability to psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression. I have recently been awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship to investigate the role of neural networks in complex behaviours using pharmacogenetic tools.

In particular, I will be applying new pharmacogenetic techniques to understand how the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) affects emotional learning. The use of Designer Receptor Exclusively Activated by Designer Drug (DREADD) technology allows for a finer control of the activity of defined 5-HT circuits enabling a more in depth study of how 5-HT modulates activity in the circuitry of the amygdala, a brain region that is crucial for aversive learning and encoding and retrieval of aversive memories.

The results from these studies are expected to provide new insights into how 5-HT modulates amygdala information processing and aversive learning, and how this contributes to the regulation of mood states and vulnerability to anxiety and depression.

I graduated with the equivalent of a master’s degree in Biology at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, 2008). In 2009 I obtained an MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Barcelona, performing a research project on the role of transcription factors in psychotic disorders. Then I secured a Predoctoral Fellowship from the Spanish Institute of Health that allowed me to continue that project for my PhD. After obtaining my PhD (2015), I took up a post-doctoral position in the University of Oxford (Wade-Martins group) until 2016 when I was awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship and joined the Department of Pharmacology.