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Characterizing the behavioural phenotype of betacellulin knockout mice – a promising new candidate gene associated with schizophrenia

Recent breakthrough findings from our laboratory have found that levels of a specific protein called, betacellulin, are reduced in the post-mortem dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and in the plasma of patients with schizophrenia. Betacellulin is a member of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family, and while EGF dysfunction has been well described in psychiatric disorders [2], little is known about the role of betacellulin in the context of cognition and behaviour, or how it acts in the brain. We have recently generated a genetically modified betacellulin knockout mouse. This project will assess the behaviour and memory performance of this mice in a battery of behavioural tasks in the newly established advanced behavioural suite for mice at Monash Medical Center. Mice will be tested in a range of mazes, locomotor cells and touchscreen based apparatus to establish how depletion of this protein alters their behaviour. Brains will be fluorescently stained with selective neuronal tags to identify how depletion of this protein alters distinct neuronal populations. This project will enable us to understand how the important protein, which is greatly reduced in people with schizophrenia, works in the brain and thus may provide an exciting new avenue for therapeutic targeting.
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here:
neuroscience, behavioural neuroscience, psychiatry, schizophrenia, mental illness
School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health / Hudson Institute of Medical Research
Available options 
Masters by research
Short projects
Time commitment 
Top-up scholarship funding available 
Physical location 
Monash Medical Centre Clayton
Suresh Sundram

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