We are extremely proud of all our colleagues who are contributing to the COVID-19 emergency response. We want to celebrate them by highlighting their contributions over the next few weeks in this mini-series of ‘LMS Emergency Response to COVID-19’. Today we want to introduce you to clinical researcher; Ellis Onwordi.
What is your current role within the COVID-19 response?
In addition to research, I work part-time on a voluntary basis as an honorary psychiatrist within West London NHS Trust, Early Intervention Service (Hounslow). Since the emergence of COVID-19, our work has changed as such that most of our consultations with patients are conducted by telephone rather than being face-to-face, and I have continued to do this work throughout the pandemic.
What is your research at the LMS about?
It has long been thought that there may be fewer connections between nerves (or synapses) in the brain, but this has not been assessed in living patients before. For my PhD at the LMS, I am using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to quantify a protein marker of the density of these connections in vivo in patients with schizophrenia and healthy volunteers. We have found reductions in this synaptic protein marker in key regions of the brain involved in planning and memory formation. This suggests that synaptic loss could underlie schizophrenia development.