GWNZ Fellowships, 2021 - 2022

Susie Szakats

Susie Szakats PhD in anatomy at Otago University

Ngā mihi nui ki a koe- thank you very much! I am incredibly grateful to receive a 2021 GWNZ Fellowship.  

I conduct research at the intersection of neuroscience, developmental biology and molecular biology. My PhD project, “Sex, Brains & RNA”, is an exploration of sex differences in the developing brain at the level of gene expression. Two compelling arguments support studying sex differences in the brain. Firstly, exploiting our knowledge of sex differences may help identify the mechanisms underlying sex-biased disorders. Secondly, including female subjects in biomedical research is imperative as the field is built on knowledge derived from predominantly male subjects. With a combination of laboratory techniques to computer science, I have demonstrated sex differences at the level of RNA in the developing brain, including the novel finding that many microRNAs also differ between male and female brains. Exploring the role of microRNAs, gene expression regulators, in establishing sex differences in the developing brain opens a new avenue of research. Now in the final year of my PhD, I to extend and publish these findings.