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 Alastair MacDonald

Alastair MacDonald

PhD student

01392 408286

RILD Building Level 4

I began my study of the brain at the University of Aberdeen where I investigated signalling mechanisms in the rat hypothalamus under the supervision of Prof Peter McCaffery. Additionally, during my time at Aberdeen I was awarded a summer studentship from the University’s development trust to work on new tools for Neuroscience teaching with Dr Derek Scott.

Following this I returned to my hometown of Edinburgh to complete a Masters degree in Integrative Neuroscience. During this time I worked in the lab of Dr Ian Duguid and became interested in neural circuits controlling behaviour. Specifically I investigated how noradrenaline neurons innervating the primary motor cortex are arranged and how they contribute to behavioural output from the cortex.

I then relocated in Exeter to begin a PhD project in the lab of Dr Kate Ellacott looking at mechanisms underlying the brain's control of food intake, specifically communication between neurons and glia.

Follow me on twitter: @ajmacdonald93


  • 2016 MSc by Research (with Distinction) in Integrative Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh

  • 2015 BSc (1st Class Hons) in Neuroscience with Psychology, University of Aberdeen


Research interests

A central interest of mine is to understand how groups of brain cells work together to generate behaviour. Using the mouse as a model system my work aims to understand how non-neuronal cells in the brain (glia) manipulate neural circuits that drive feeding behaviour. Feeding is very interesting because although it is a highly-conserved behaviour the underlying mechanism in the brain remains to be fully understood. Secondly a better understanding of how the brain generates feelings of hunger and satiety may inform new targets for therapies to treat eating disorders and obesity.

I work in the lab of Dr Kate Ellacott and in addition I am co-supervised by Dr Tony Pickering (University of Bristol) and Dr Craig Beall. My work is funded by a GW4 BioMed DTP studentship.

Laboratory Demonstrator - BIO1334 Genetics

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