Dr Raquel Pinacho

Retaining Fee Lecturer in Medicine

My research focuses on the study of the biological mechanisms underlying vulnerability to psychiatric disorders. I joined the Department of Pharmacology in 2016 to investigate the role of neural networks in complex emotional behaviours using pharmacogenetic tools.

In particular, I use pharmacogenetic techniques to understand how the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) affects emotional learning. The use of Designer Receptor Exclusively Activated by Designer Drug (DREADD) technology allows for a finer control of the activity of defined 5-HT circuits enabling a more in-depth study of how 5-HT modulates activity in the circuitry of the amygdala, a brain region that is crucial for aversive learning and encoding and retrieval of aversive memories.

The results from these studies are expected to provide new insights into how 5-HT modulates amygdala information processing and aversive learning, and how this contributes to the regulation of mood states and vulnerability to anxiety and depression.

I graduated with the equivalent of a master’s degree in Biology at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, 2008). In 2009 I obtained an MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Barcelona, performing a research project on the role of transcription factors in psychotic disorders. After obtaining my PhD in Biomedicine by the University of Barcelona (2015), I took up a post-doctoral position in the University of Oxford (Wade-Martins group) until 2016 when I was awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship and joined the Department of Pharmacology.

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