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Dr Allison J FulfordB.Sc.(C.N.A.A.), Ph.D.(Nott.)

Senior Teaching Fellow

Allison Fulford

Dr Allison J FulfordB.Sc.(C.N.A.A.), Ph.D.(Nott.)

Senior Teaching Fellow

Member of

Research interests

My research interests lie with the body's response to stress. I study features of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA, or stress axis), the major point of interaction between the endocrine and nervous systems and of critical importance in mediating the stress response.

A large part of my work concentrates on how the stress response changes during development. For instance, studies are underway into the role of monamines released in the central nervous system. Monomines, a class of neurotransmitter that includes catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine) and serotonin, have been implicated in a variety of mood disorders and hence characterising their properties and action in the brain will allow for greater understanding of conditions such as bipolar disorder and depression.

Further work is addressing the part played by nociceptin in the HPA axis. Nociceptin is a peptide that stimulates the opioid receptor ORL1. It appears to be important in pain, as it has been found to produce hyperalgesia when applied supraspinally but analgesia at the spinal level. With respect to the HPA axis, nociceptin can reverse stress-induced analgesia. Understanding how nociceptin modulates the stress response could therefore have relevance for effective pain management.

There is extensive crosstalk between the nervous and immune systems. Peptide neurotransmitters produced by nerve cells, e.g. adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), have been found to also be present in peripheral immune cells, along with their RNA and corresponding membrane receptors. I am working with Mick Harbuz and David Jessop of the URCN to further elucidate the actions of these neuroimmunopeptides in the HPA axis.

 

Teaching

BSc Anatomical Science II (Unit Organiser), BSc Anatomical Science III/Neuroscience III 'Neuroendocrine regulation and stress' (Element Organiser)

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Postal address:
Dept of Anatomy
School of Medical Sciences
Southwell Street
Bristol
United Kingdom