Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions

Loading content
 Alastair MacDonald

Alastair MacDonald

PhD student

 01392 408286

 RILD Building Level 4


University of Exeter Medical School, RILD Building, RD&E Hospital Wonford, Barrack Road, Exeter, EX2 5DW, UK


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

My work aims to examine the role of glial cells in the brain's control of food intake. Feeding is regulated by the coordinated action of a number of different brain regions which sense cues from the body about energy state. Predominantly research in this field focuses on neurons, examining stimuli they respond to, projection patterns and their behavioural effect. Recently a role for glial cells in feeding circuits has begun to be appreciated. I am currently using a combination of chemogenetics, in vivo behavioural assays, electrophysiology and immunohistochemistry to better understand how glial cells respond to changes in food intake and whether they relay information to neurons and/or influence feeding behaviour.

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


Journal Club Facilitator - CSC2006 Foundations in Neuroscience

Supervision / Group

Back | Edit Profile