Helping newborns

Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips (PhD 2012-) is researching the possible link between signals sent from the placenta during an hypoxic insult (when the body tissue is deprived of oxygen) and neurodevelopmental conditions in newborns.

'If the placenta receives low oxygen during pregnancy, it releases excess levels of glutamate, a substance which is the most important transmitter for normal brain function and is simultaneously essential and toxic. This glutamate alters the developing foetus' brain, causing changes in brain cells. These changes are linked to conditions such as schizophrenia, autism and bipolar syndrome.

'As well as researching this mechanism, I am researching possible treatments, such as nano-particle therapy, which could potentially lead to an extended understanding of the origins of neurodevelopmental conditions like schizophrenia.

'The University of Bristol has given me the chance to work with excellent researchers, who are the reason that the neuroscience department has such an international reputation. What I have enjoyed most about working in Bristol is the willingness to collaborate and the constantly friendly atmosphere. 

'I love being able to discover new findings and explore questions that I pose to myself, and alumni funding has been invaluable in its support of both my own research and its future external effects. The best part of my work is the translational aspects, where my research has real clinical applications – hopefully one day it will help save people’s lives.'

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