The Pranaiya and Arthur Magoffin Foundation (PAM Foundation) is proud to announce its second collaboration with the University of Oxford in the area of postpartum depression (PPD) and other perinatal mental health illnesses.
This research, being undertaken by the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) with the support of St Anne’s College, is exploring the role that changes in the way genes are read and enacted upon by the body during and post pregnancy may contribute to PPD and postpartum psychosis.
Associate Professor Francis Szele and DPhil student, Jemima Becker are leading the investigation. Dr Szele said, “Despite PPD and PPP’s prevalence, we have a limited understanding of the neurobiology”. He went on to explain that stem cells in the brain generate new neurons through a process called neurogenesis, which can be regulated by changes in the levels of maternal-relevant hormones. Furthermore, the dysfunction of these new neurons has been linked to a range of psychiatric disorders.
Graduate student Jemima Becker explained that “Epigenetics refers to the manner in which the body regulates gene expression, the way the body ‘reads’ DNA instructions and responds. We are investigating the role that epigenetics plays in pregnancy-related neurogenesis, and how epigenetic disruption may contribute to PPD and PPP”.
Hamish Magoffin of PAM Foundation expressed his gratitude for the donations that have made this research possible, saying, “Thank you to all those that have contributed towards the funding of this research and also the University of Oxford in placing importance on maternal mental health research. I hope that over the course of this initial three-year study we will better understand the causes of PPD and related illnesses, and develop more effective treatments to help the many that suffer”.
The Pranaiya & Arthur Magoffin Foundation (PAM Foundation) was established by Hamish Magoffin in memory of his late wife Pranaiya and son Arthur, and works to assist families affected by perinatal mental health conditions through its three pillars of Awareness and Education, Care and Research. The Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) at the University of Oxford, alongside St Anne’s College, are at the forefront of this research.