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In2Science Mentoring

Explaining the work of PERL, and how Experimental Medicine fits into the process of drug discovery and furthers our understanding of brain function.

In2Science Placement Day 2021

 I hosted three year 13 students from the In2Science scheme who want to pursue careers in STEM. They were interested in Psychiatry and chose me as their mentor for the summer and to come for a placement in PERL. We had two virtual mentor meetings and they visited the lab on 3rd September. We spent the day discussing the work of PERL, and how Experimental Medicine fits into the process of drug discovery and furthers our understanding of brain function. We explored the tasks we use in the lab, and how these are being used in our current studies to investigate emotional and cognitive function. We also had the opportunity to go to OHBA and try some wearable EEG which shows people how to meditate. We finished the day by looking at how emotional states can be altered and modulated using the acoustic startle reflex, and made some recordings. This was a fantastic opportunity for these students to see research in action and I was very impressed by their enthusiasm and engagement in our work. I was honoured that they later nominated me for mentor of the week!

Jessica Scaife

BSc (Hons) PhD PGCE


Post-doctoral Researcher

During my career I have gained broad range of experience investigating brain function in both patient populations and healthy volunteers.I have an honours degree in neuroscience and a PhD in psychopharmacology from Nottingham University. My doctoral research examined the effects of benzodiazepines on conditioned learning and fear potentiation of evoked responses. 

I am currently working on the first UK clinical trial of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for severe intractable anorexia nervosa (AN) with Prof Rebecca Park and Prof Tipu Aziz, as part of the OxBREaD team. We are investigating neuronal changes using MEG and behavioural measures and recording symptomatic changes following stimulator implantation.

I am also working with Prof Catherine Harmer, Dr Susannah Murphy and Dr Amy Gillespie on a clinical trial of a novel antidepressant: a 5HT4 agonist in both a depressed population who have not responded to SSRIs and an unmediated group. This post involves fMRI, and electrophysiological measures and behavioural testing.

I have also previously worked with Prof Paul Harrison and Dr Elizabeth Tunbridge's Translational Neuroscience group, investigating the impact of COMT inhibition on emotional processing, reward and stress and its modulation by genotype.

During my first postdoctoral position in Dora Duka's lab at Sussex University, I investigated the effects of alcohol on cognition and emotional processing using fMRI and a battery of cognitive tasks.

I then came to Oxford to work with Rebecca Park's OxBREaD group, investigating the neurobiological basis of AN in a currently-ill and recovered population. Our research investigates the neural and behavioural correlates of reward and habit formation in AN using fMRI and MEG. I also managed the first pilot study of DBS for AN with Rebecca Park and Tipu Aziz.