Chloe Wigg, Research Assistant, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford.
Tell us a little about yourself, and what attracted you to studying/working at the University of Oxford?
I recently completed an MRes in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL. My master’s thesis was conducted within the Neuroscience and Mental Health research group, where I investigated the impact of escitalopram use on the neural substrates of memory encoding for emotional faces in adaptive anxiety. In a broader sense, I have dedicated the past 5 years to working toward improving mental health treatment outcomes, both from a frontline and research capacity. It is precisely that which attracted me to working at the University of Oxford’s Psychopharmacology and Emotion Research Laboratory (PERL), as our work focuses on mental health treatments and increasing our understanding of mechanisms underlying symptoms.
What is your vision for the team/project/research you study/work with?
My vision for the team is to increase our understanding of residual symptoms in depression, in order to develop effective targeted treatments. Symptoms such as the loss of interest and/or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities, and concentration/memory problems that persist even after low mood has remitted. Additionally, one of our projects is studying treatment-resistant depression to investigate novel treatment strategies, which may help this population. While living through this pandemic, which has put tremendous strain on our collective mental health, my vision is simply one of producing positive outcomes.
What is currently at the top of your To-Do List?
Currently, I’m assisting with the set-up of exciting experimental medicine projects and analysing large datasets from our COvid-19, Social Isolation and Emotion (COSIE) study from which we aim to disseminate some of the findings this year.
How did you get to where you are today?
From moving to Canada and back again, working in finance, to going back to university to pursue my, dare I say, passion in cognitive neuroscience and mental health research, it has been a long winding road.
Who or what inspires you?
I used to work on a mental health crisis line and support individuals with mental health disorders on a daily basis; the strength these individuals demonstrated in the face of varying success with their treatments is what propels me.
If you were not in your study programme/job currently, what would you like to be doing?
I’ve worked in different industries, so I say unreservedly that mental health research is the area I want to be working in. I would like to be enrolled in a PhD programme, continuing to research mental health, specifically focusing on novel/augmentation treatment for anhedonia - a core symptom of depression that is in desperate need of better treatment.