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Dr Claire Hales

Biography

As an undergraduate I studied Natural Sciences at the University of Bath, majoring in Biology along with Psychology and Mathematics. As part of my degree, I spent a year at Yale University in Connecticut working in a Molecular Psychiatry laboratory within Yale School of Medicine led by Prof Marina Picciotto. My main project for the year was piloting and optimising two operant behavioural tasks, as well as optimising the labs intravenous self-administration procedure, to establish a behavioural assay which could be used to assess the role of the nicotinic cholinergic system in impulsivity and drug addiction in a mouse model.

After finishing my BSc I spent a year working at the University of Cambridge as a Research Assistant in an Immunology laboratory headed by Prof Ken Smith that is part of Cambridge Institute for Medical Research at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. My main project was identifying the kinetics and localisation of T follicular regulatory cells during germinal centre formation using a combination of immunofluorescence and flow cytometry. I was also responsible for breeding, genotyping and maintenance of a transgenic mouse colony.

I decided to pursue a career in Neuroscience research, and within the Neural Dynamics PhD programme I completed my PhD working on a project cosupervised by Dr Emma Robinson and Dr Conor Houghton investigating the impact of emotions on decision making. I developed a novel, reward-based operant judgement bias task and carried out pharmacological affective state manipulations to both validate the task and investigate the effect of delayed versus rapid onset antidepressants on decision making biases. Alongside this experimental work, I used modelling approaches to investigate the decision making processes underlying affective biases in this task.

I am currently working as a post-doc in the Robinson lab continuing with the research I began during my PhD as part of a four year Industrial Partnership Award in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim. The project is focused on investigating the neural circuits and molecular mechanism which regulate emotional behaviour and affective biases.