Dr Matthew Parker
Location: 6.18 Fogg Building, Mile End Campus
Phone: +44 20 7882 7007
I completed my PhD at Southampton University in 2008, where I explored the behavioural phenotypes associated with crib biting in horses. Since then I worked at the Royal Veterinary College on a project examining the welfare problems of pigs and chickens associated with intensive farming systems.
I joined QM in Jan 2011, where I am working with Dr Caroline Brennan on an NC3Rs grant developing behavioural assays to identify genetic mechanisms underlying compulsive drug seeking and vulnerability to drug abuse.
Zebrafish are fast becoming a popular model species for studying human medical conditions and in our lab, we are developing zebrafish models of drug addiction. The DSM—IV lists compulsive drug seeking as one of the three main diagnostic criteria for drug dependence in humans, and as such, any model species should have individuals which demonstrate this.
Using conditioned place preference (CPP), our lab recently demonstrated that zebrafish not only show a strong CPP response to both alcohol and nicotine, but also show signs of compulsivity, in that their choice of the drug-paired environment in the CPP persisted despite counter-conditioning with aversive cues (Kily et al. 2008). My research, funded by the NC3Rs, has three specific aims:
- Developing behavioural assays of stress-responsivity, novelty seeking, impulsivity and compulsive drug-seeking in zebrafish (Danio Rerio)
- Behavioural phenotyping of existing wild-type lines to establish endophenotypes (causal factors) for compulsive drug seeking and relapse
- Generate high and low-responder lines carrying ENU-induced mutations that can be used for mapping to identify linked alleles. This work is of fundamental importance in terms of developing new and specifically targeted therapeutics to help to combat drug addiction. In addition, our aims are to develop screens for larval phenotypes, which will ultimately reduce the need for using adult animals in drug testing.