Liverpool Neuroscience Group Day 2022

Posted on: 18 July 2022 by Bethany Facer in July 2022 posts

Dr Magdalena Sliwinska shares opportunities on how to join and contribute to neuroscience for ECRs & students in Liverpool

On Friday 24 June, over 100 researchers from across the North West congregated for the Liverpool Neuroscience Group (LNG) conference, the first to be held in-person for three years. PhD student Bethany Facer gives an insight into the day.

The diverse programme included plenary speakers Professor Alasdair MacKenzie (University of Aberdeen) and Professor Sarah Garfinkel (UCL). The remainder of the day was given over to local speakers and focussed on postgraduate students and early career researchers (ECRs) to showcase their research. The aim was to promote collaboration and covered the whole scope of neuroscience being undertaken in Merseyside.  

The day began with an opening from the Chair of the Liverpool Neuroscience Group, Dr Susannah Walker (LJMU), welcoming the delegates and setting out the goals of the group and the future of neuroscience in Liverpool.

Our first keynote speaker, Professor Alasdair MacKenzie delivered a presentation on ‘What role do context specific enhancers play in brain function and disease? - Regulatory variation, epigenetics and human disease’, which emphasised the importance of enhancers and how they are affected by SNPs and DNA-methylation; more specifically in addiction, anxiety and obesity.

This was followed by a data blitz from a selection of PhD students, Alexander Fröhlich, Sultan Aljuraysi and Yuhong Sun, highlighting key points from their poster presentations. 

A coffee break and poster session followed which gave the early career researchers time to share their research and spark some discussions and collaborations. Four researchers across LNG then gave 15-minute talks about their research:

Dr Cathy Montgomery (LMJU) - ‘The effects of hazardous drinking on vibrotactile perception are related to age: a study utilising the Brain Gauge.’

Dr Davide Bruno (LJMU) - ‘Predicting Biomarkers of Neurodegeneration with the Recency Ratio.’

Dr Dorothy Tse (Edge Hill University) - ‘How prior knowledge affects new learning: a translatable model from animals to humans.’

Dr Ben Middlehurst (University of Liverpool) - ‘Utilising genetic data and quality of life metrics within the TONiC initiative to better predict patient outcome, progression and severity in ALS.’  

This gave a taste of the multi-disciplinary areas of interest with the neuroscience community across Liverpool.

Bethany Facer and Ashleigh Bellard, PhD students from University of Liverpool and LJMU, sharing some of their recent work

After talks from the up-and-coming researchers of Liverpool we broke for lunch and had time to discuss the range of neuroscience research presented. We went back into another set of four 15-minute talks from:

Dr Cordelia Dunai (University of Liverpool) - ‘Biomarkers of neurological complications from COVID-19.’

Dr Michel Belyk (Edge Hill University) - ‘The diverse neurobiology of stammering.’

Dr Magdalena Sliwinska (LJMU) - ‘A quest for understanding learning in the brain guided by transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Dr Charlotte Krahé (University of Liverpool) - ‘Neural processes underlying social context effects on pain.’

This was followed by a data blitz from a selection of PhD students and post-docs, Sahal Alotaibi, Tyler Mari, Danielle Hewitt, Ieva Andrulyte and Dr Victoria Ciampani, highlighting key points of their poster presentations. 

A final coffee break and poster session commenced before the second keynote speaker, Professor Sarah Garfinkel (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL) with their ground-breaking research ‘Clinical Neuroscience and the Heart-Brain Axis - Emotion processing, interoception and mental health’. This talk detailed how cardiac afferent signals can interact with neuronal mechanisms to alter emotion processing.

A special mention to the two Poster Prize winners, both from the University of Liverpool, Sophie Rustidge (Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology) and Sahal Alotaibi (Institute of Population Health) and Data Blitz winner Tyler Mari (Institute of Population Health). 

Tyler Mari and Sophie Rustidge  – two of the prize winners

Following the talks and Q&As, it was time for more informal discussions over refreshments and nibbles. After such a well-received day we hope to further promote our ECR arm of the LNG as well as more events to promote the up-and-coming research the northwest neuroscience community has to offer. University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Edge Hill University, and the Walton Centre aim to build the rising neuroscience hub of Liverpool.


Keywords: neuroscience, ISMIB, IPH.