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Sara Hijazi


Blaschko Fellow

I completed a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a minor in Psychology at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Following that, I was awarded a scholarship to join the Neurasmus Neuroscience program, which allowed me to spend my first year in Berlin as part of the MedNeuro Master's program and my second year in Amsterdam at Vrije University. I then completed my Ph.D. degree at the Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology department (Vrije University) under the supervision of Professor Guus Smit and Professor Ronald van Kesteren as part of the CognitionNet European consortium. My Ph.D. project was aimed at investigating PV+ neuron dysfunction in an Alzheimer’s disease (AD) model. My data revealed an early and transient hyperexcitable phenotype in PV+ neurons in the hippocampus of APP/PS1 mice, which coincided with the earliest sign of memory deficits in these mice.

In February 2020, I moved to Professor Steven Kushner’s lab at the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam as a post-doctoral researcher. My main project was focused on investigating the link between PV+ neuron myelination and self-inhibitory transmission. I used the cuprizone model of demyelination and the Shiverer mouse model to investigate how myelin influences PV+ neuron maturation and autaptic neurotransmission. Moreover, I was also part of the De Vrij lab where my main responsibilities involved whole-cell patch clamp recordings from human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) neurons in order to investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms of psychiatric genetic risk.

In December 2022, I joined the group of Dr Tim Viney as a Blashko fellow funded by the Blaschko Trust (Department of Pharmacology and Linacre College, University of Oxford). 

My current projects include:

  • Exploring the effect of tau pathology on spatial memory and  networks in vivo
  • Examine the different subpopulations of neurons within the anterior thalamic nucleus (ATN) 
  • Investigating whether specific impairments in the ATN could explain cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease