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Associate Professor Steve Kerr’s Research Group

Research Overview 

Toxic algal blooms occur with regularity throughout the world. These seasonal events, characterized by the appearance of known and novel marine neurotoxins (including saxitoxin, brevetoxin and domoic acid), pose a serious hazard to both human and animal health, as well as a threat to commercial shellfish industries. In recent years we have received support from the N.Z. Neurological Foundation and the Cawthron Institute (Nelson NZ) to study the mechanisms by which domoic acid (the active toxin in Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning) causes seizures, amnesia, and nerve cell loss.

Studies in our lab involve electrophysiological, anatomical, behavioral and molecular approaches and most of our research is currently aimed at mechanisms of CNS neuroprotection and the supersensitivity of the aged brain to excitotoxic insult. In addition, we have recently undertaken studies of cardiac damage following domoic acid. Results to date indicate that a novel CNS neuroprotective mechanism involves G protein-linked KA receptors which impart 'tolerance' to domoic acid and related excitotoxins. Age-related changes in hippocampal AMPA and KA receptors contribute to excitotoxic damage in the CNS.

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Current students

  • Kaitlin Wolfe (PhD)

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Former Students

PhD Students

MSc Students

BSc(Hons) or BiomedSc(Hons)

  • Lydia Harjadinata (2015)
    • In vitro electrophysiological characterization of marine algal, azaspiracids in the rat hippocampal slice preparation
  • Jessica Macindoe (2013) 
    • In vitro preconditioning of hippocampal slices with GYKI-52466
  • Shane Hellyer (2010)

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