NEUROGENETICSSilvia Paracchini Research Group
We are a very international group. Every year we host visiting scholars, ERASMUS and summer students. Please get in touch with Silvia if you would like to join us. Below you can learn more about the current lab members
Dr Silvia Paracchini
I graduated in Biological Sciences (cum laude) from University of Pavia in 1998 and obtained a DPhil in Human Genetics from Oxford University in 2003. My project, supervised by Dr Chris Tyler-Smith and Prof. Ed Southern involved the development of genotyping methods and screening of large cohorts for genetic associations with prostate cancer and male infertility. I conducted my post-doctoral training in Prof. Anthony Monaco’s group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford University. In 2011 I was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to set up my group at St Andrews. In 2013 I became member of the Young Academy of Scotland. In 2018 I was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB) and in 2019 I became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE). I lead the St Andrews Bioinformatics Unit and I am the co-Director of the the Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences.
Dr Rebeca Diaz
After graduating in Biology at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, I worked as a research assistant at the Oxford University Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics. During my work there with the Transgenics core and the Cardiovascular Medicine department, I became interested in the genetics of complex diseases and the generation of models to facilitate their study. I completed a PhD at the University of St Andrews studying genes that have been implicated in dyslexia and laterality. My current project as postdoc focuses on the functional characterization of a susceptibility gene for specific language impairment.
Dr Judith Schmitz
I became interested in the ontogenesis of laterality during my master studies in psychology with focus on cognitive neuroscience at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany. During my PhD in the Biopsychology lab at Ruhr University Bochum, I investigated the genetic and epigenetic background of laterality phenotypes such as handedness and language lateralisation. In 2018, I received my PhD with summa cum laude. As of April 2019, a postdoctoral scholarship by the German Research Foundation (DFG) enables me to expand my previous work in the Neurogenetics group. My project focuses on the genetic background of laterality phenotypes such as eyedness and footedness and the association of laterality and neurodevelopmental traits.
n 2015 I started working as research assistant in the Neurogenetics group at St Andrews University. This job opportunity allowed me to collaborate on the functional characterization of the dyslexia candidate gene KIAA0319 and learn a wide set of techniques ranging from cellular/molecular biology and biochemistry up to microscopy, computational analysis and genetic manipulation of zebrafish.
Now I’m delighted to start my PhD and focus on ATP2C2, a susceptibility gene for Specific Language Impairment (SLI). Common and rare variants have been associated with this gene in individuals affected by SLI. The main goal of my project will be to study the role of ATP2C2 in brain development and look at the effects of specific mutations on the protein function. This will involve the generation of knock-out and mutated cell lines and the application of electrophysiological approaches.
My co-supervisor is Dr Samantha Pitt (https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/metalion/samantha-pitt/).
My scholarship is funded by The Cunningham Trust.
Graduate cum laudae at the University of Bologna in Biotechnology in 2016. I then moved to the UK where I achieved a MSc in Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh. As my MSc thesis I took part in iGEM, the most renowned synthetic biology competition for young researchers. During the project the team developed PhagED, a modular toolkit to re-sensitise antibiotic-resistant bacteria using CRISPR and a dual-phage system. The project won the ‘Best therapeutics’ award.
I’ve started my PhD in May 2018 and I’m interested in unravelling the genetics and the relationship between psychiatric disorders, functional laterality e.g. (brain asymmetries) and behavioural laterality (e.g. handedness).
I decided to go to university as a mature student after several years working in the telecoms industry and working in care for the elderly for 2 years. I obtained my BSc in Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield, where I became interested in the molecular aspects of disease and specialised in cellular and molecular biology in my third year. From there, I became very interested in neurogenetics and went on to study for an MSc in Molecular Medicine at the University of Sheffield. I wrote my MSc thesis on the role that microtubule dynamics play in neurodegenerative diseases.
I am now thrilled to work on my PhD project with the neurogenetics group at St Andrews. My research explores the relationship between socioeconomic status and neurodevelopmental disorders, such as dyslexia and dyscalculia, and examines their effect on educational achievement. The project incorporates techniques in applied economics and genetics and is supported by the St Leonard’s Interdisciplinary Doctoral Scholarship.
- Ms Monika Gostic, PhD student now working in Michael Nevels’s group (St Andrews)
- Dr Rob Shore, PhD student now post-doc at Harvard University
- Dr Kerry Pettigrew, post-doc now working with Prof Matt Holden (St Andrews)