In Review: Liverpool Neuroscience Day 2022

Dr Magdalena Sliwinska shares opportunities on how to join and contribute to neuroscience for ECRs & students in Liverpool

On Friday 24 June, over 100 researchers from across the North West congregated for Liverpool Neuroscience Day 2022, the first Liverpool Neuroscience Group conference to be held in-person for three years. PhD student Bethany Facer gives an insight into the day.

The diverse programme included two well-received plenary speakers  – Professor Alasdair MacKenzie (University of Aberdeen) and Professor Sarah Garfinkel (UCL) – as well as local speakers from across the LNG’s partner organisations. Much of the day was focussed on postgraduate students and early career researchers (ECRs), for many of whom this was the first opportunity to showcase their research in-person. The aim of the day was to promote collaboration, and highlight the scope of neuroscience research being undertaken in Merseyside.  

The day began with an opening from the new Chair of the Liverpool Neuroscience Group, Dr Susannah Walker (LJMU), welcoming the delegates and setting out the goals of the group, and the future of neuroscience in Liverpool.

Our first keynote speaker, Professor Alasdair MacKenzie delivered a presentation on ‘What role do context specific enhancers play in brain function and disease? – Regulatory variation, epigenetics and human disease’, which emphasised the importance of enhancers and how they are affected by SNPs and DNA-methylation; more specifically in addiction, anxiety and obesity.

Prof. Mackenzie was followed by a data blitz from a selection of PhD students, Alexander Fröhlich, Sultan Aljuraysi and Yuhong Sun, highlighting key points from their poster presentations. 

A coffee break and poster session followed, which gave early career researchers time to share their research and spark some discussions and new collaborations.

Bethany Facer and Ashleigh Bellard, PhD students from University of Liverpool and LJMU, sharing some of their recent work.

In the 2nd session, four local researchers gave 15-minute talks about their research:

  • Dr Cathy Montgomery (LMJU) – ‘The effects of hazardous drinking on vibrotactile perception are related to age: a study utilising the Brain Gauge.’
  • Dr Davide Bruno (LJMU) – ‘Predicting Biomarkers of Neurodegeneration with the Recency Ratio.’
  • Dr Dorothy Tse (Edge Hill University) – ‘How prior knowledge affects new learning: a translatable model from animals to humans.’
  • Dr Ben Middlehurst (University of Liverpool) – ‘Utilising genetic data and quality of life metrics within the TONiC initiative to better predict patient outcome, progression and severity in ALS.’  

After this multi-disciplinary taster of the research being done across Liverpool we broke for a long lunch, with time to discuss the presentations, and our own work with others from within Liverpool’s neuroscience community (and beyond!).

The third session featured four more 15-minute talks from:

  • Dr Cordelia Dunai (University of Liverpool) – ‘Biomarkers of neurological complications from
  • Dr Michel Belyk (Edge Hill University) – ‘The diverse neurobiology of stammering.’
  • Dr Magdalena Sliwinska (LJMU) – ‘A quest for understanding learning in the brain guided by transcranial magnetic stimulation.
  • Dr Charlotte Krahé (University of Liverpool) – ‘Neural processes underlying social context effects
    on pain.’

This was followed by a second data blitz from a selection of PhD students and post-docs: Sahal Alotaibi, Tyler Mari, Danielle Hewitt, Ieva Andrulyte and Dr Victoria Ciampani, highlighting key points of their poster presentations. 

This year’s posters were of a very high standard – setting the bar high for next year!

The final coffee break and poster session preceded the second keynote speaker, Professor Sarah Garfinkel (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL) with their ground-breaking research ‘Clinical Neuroscience and the Heart-Brain Axis – Emotion processing, interoception and mental health’. This talk detailed how cardiac afferent signals can interact with neuronal mechanisms to alter emotion processing.

Tyler Mari and Sophie Rustidge  – two of the prize winners
A special mention to the two Poster Prize winners, both from the University of Liverpool, Sophie Rustidge (Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology) and Sahal Alotaibi (Institute of Population Health) and Data Blitz winner Tyler Mari (Institute of Population Health). 

A drinks reception followed the the talks and Q&As, where the discussions and networking continued informally over refreshments and nibbles until the building closed and all were reluctantly ushered out!

— Bethany Facer

A previous version of this review appeared on the University of Liverpool’s Health & Life Sciences Blog.

The feedback from the day has been excellent, particularly from ECRs who have had few opportunities to attend conferences in recent years. LNG:ECR hope to build on the success of LND2022 and their recent BNA-sponsored seminar series to hold many more diverse events for ECRs and students in the year ahead.

The LNG and our partner institutions will also be working together to promote the region’s neuroscience research, within the wider research community (locally, nationally, and internationally), as well as to promote public engagement with neuroscience research.

This work is facilitated by the support of our partner organisations, with particular thanks to the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, and Edge Hill University for their financial support, and The Walton Centre for their administrative support.

Additionally, Liverpool Neuroscience Day 2022 would not have been possible without the continued support of the Pain Relief Foundation, and the British Neuroscience Association.






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