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Spotlight on...Jed Wingrove

Posted 23rd July 2018

Jed is a 3rd year PhD student at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London as part of the CDT in Medical Imaging. He studied Biomedical Sciences at King’s for his  undergraduate degree  and  an  MRes  in  Clinical  Drug  Development  at  UCL.  His project, supported by Unilever, studies how to image the effects of intra-nasal insulin on blood-flow and  connectivity in the brain, and how these effects change in patients with insulin resistance.

I'm a neuro-pharmacologist by trade and my previous studies have largely focused on the novel drug pathways that can be manipulated to treat neurological and neuropsychiatric  diseases. My  current  project  looks  at  obesity  and   diabetes, two   metabolic disorders that are currently the focus of a lot of public and scientific interest. Both conditions are new areas of research to me, and this has been one  of the most exciting aspects of this PhD. My work  focuses on insulin, understanding  its effects on appetite and on the reward  perceived when eating palatable foods.

Insulin is interesting because it is key to the regulation of blood glucose levels,  but can also cross the blood-brain barrier where it  acts more like a neurotransmitter, and is pivotal to a number of the brains processes. This route from the  body to the brain is compromised  in  disorders such as diabetes and obesity and therefore investigating the direct effects of insulin in the brain is important. 

My PhD research uses functional neuroimaging techniques to examine the effects and actions of insulin in the human brain. I am conducting two crossover MRI studies to look at the effects of intra-nasally administered insulin versus placebo in a group of healthy volunteers and a cohort of insulin resistant subjects.

We feed our subjects with small amounts of vanilla milkshake whilst they are in the scanner and measure their responses in reward associated areas both on and off the drug.

Working with my funders 

Building  a  close working relationship with my funders  has  been integral to  the success of my project. My project is co-funded by Unilever, and my supervisors at  the company are not imaging scientists, so I had to develop my ability to explain complicated data in a simple  and understandable way. This has really improved  our    working relationship, culminating in successfully securing additional funding to cover extra scanning time to implement a unique food-reward functional paradigm into my study.

Conference talks

During my MRes project I optimised a perfusion MRI  technique  (arterial  spin  labelling)  to acquire high resolution  cerebral  blood  flow images. This was the first time I had ever used a clinical MRI scanner and it was really amazing to coordinate with volunteers for the study and also control the scanner to acquire images and data  for  my  project.  My  project  was  a  huge  success and I was fortunate to present this work as  an  oral  presentation  at  the  British  Chapter of the   International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine Conference (ISMRM) held at UCL. Through  scientific  presentation  workshops  in  the  CDT  I  was  able  to  practice my  talk  in  front  of  my  peers  as  well  as  senior  academics, receiving constructive and valuable feedback on my talk. Work during my first year on the development of   resting   state   functional   MRI   acquisition   and  analysis methods  led  me  to  present  an  electronic  poster  at  the  ISMRM  conference  in  Singapore  this  summer,   which  was  another  fantastic experience.

Outreach

I  was  asked  to  collaborate  with  the  CDT and the BioMedIA group at Imperial to produce a   poster   for   the   Imperial   Science   Festival,   which was a huge success. In this poster, aimed at  children  and  families,  I  presented  the  work  that  I  have  been  doing  during  my  PhD,  which  was a nice and gratifying opportunity for me as often the research you do on your PhD doesn’t always reach the public.

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