Behavioural Researcher | Sustainability Consultant | Western University
I am a neuroscience doctoral student working at the interface between cancer research, immunology, and behavioural neuroscience.
Co-supervised in the lab of Dr. Klaus-Peter Ossenkopp and Dr. Martin Kavaliers at the University of Western Ontario, my research is currently funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Canada Graduate Scholarships - Doctoral Program. I focus on the development of a model of anticipatory nausea based on conditioned disgust behaviors and the influence of immune activation and microbiome metabolites on behavioural development.
But what does that really mean? Anticipatory nausea is best explained within the context of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that undeniably saves millions of lives worldwide every year. Yet, millions of treatable patients decide to drop out of this treatment every year. Why?
One of the reasons that people forego chemotherapy is due to conditioned nausea. Chemotherapy-induced conditioned nausea occurs when the hospital environment becomes associated, or paired, with the nauseating side effects of chemotherapy. Due to this association, patients re-entering the hospital often feel the need to vomit right when they step foot into the hospital. Imagine feeling compelled to vomit due to something that could quite literally save your life. This is a painstaking reality for a group of people who are already suffering from cancer.
While anticipatory nausea is one of the most distressing side effects of chemotherapy, new and exciting developments in neuroimmunology are trying to fight this monster.