Dr Kristie Smith completed her BSc (Psychology) at the University of Wollongong and Master of Brain and Mind Sciences at the Brain and Mind Centre where she focused on exploring sleep disturbances in young and older persons with a lifetime history of mood disorders. Her work helped characterise prominent sleep phase delay in youth and reduced circadian strength in older persons with a mood disorder.
In 2020 Kristie received her PhD, also from the Brain and Mind Centre, for investigating the genetic, molecular, and neurobiological determinants of post-traumatic stress disorder in a mouse model. Her work meticulously details the robust and long-lasting cytoskeletal reorganisation of microglial cells in response to trauma and documents concomitant loss of dendritic spines which may be mediated by a microglial-complement cascade mechanism. Additionally, Kristie published on genetic vulnerability for PTSD development and symptomology. After examining the effect of P-glycoprotein deletion on trauma-associated behaviour and microglial morphology, Kristie published observations that genetic deletion of the P2X7 receptor, predominantly located on microglia, reduces aggressive attack behaviours in mice. This offers a potential novel target for the development of serenic therapeutics, with elevated aggression being a severe and lesser investigated component of PTSD symptomology.
During her PhD candidature Kristie committed personal time to developing advanced microscopy skills which led to her placement as a finalist in the Bosch Advanced Microscopy Facility Micrograph of the Year competition. Her Neuroart is currently displayed at the Brain and Mind Centre and researchers have publicised her work both nationally and internationally at scientific meetings. Kristie has also received requests for her work to be displayed at cultural gatherings such as Sydneys own winter festival of light, Vivid.
Since joining the Paxinos lab in 2020 Kristie assisted in the construction of the Chemoarchitectonic Atlas of the Rat Brain (3rd Edition). She is now drafting designs for Paxinos for a free online platform that will host hundreds of brain and spinal cord sets across human and other animal species, gathered from Paxinos’s own atlases, that is aimed to become an international resource accepting high calibre contributions from the scientific community.
DR TERI FURLONG Postdoctoral Fellow