NAD Fellow year: 2023

Camilla Trang Vo

MSc in Biochemistry, University of Copenhagen

PhD Project

Project title

The role of sensory Neurokinin 2 receptor (NK2R) signaling in the regulation of metabolism homeostasis

PhD lab
Gerhart-Hines Group, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research
University of Copenhagen
Main supervisor
Associate Professor Zachary Gerhart-Hines
Associate Professor Christoffer Clemmensen, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen
Professor Andreas Kjær, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Copenhagen

Lab rotations - pre-PhD year

Lab Rotation 1

Circuits of Affective Neuroscience Group at the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen w/PI Assistant Professor Anna Klawonn

During her first rotation, Camilla will be involved in the lab’s work on depression and microglia.

Lab Rotation 2

Palner Lab, University of Southern Denmark w/PI Associate Professor Mikael Palner

Camilla is getting training in preclinical FDG-PET imaging in rats. During her rotation, she will learn everything needed to run an experiment, and she will end up carrying out her own experiment in which she will estimate the long changes in metabolic connectivity following a single dose of the psychedelic drug LSD.

Lab Rotation 3

Clemmensen Group/Gerhart-Hines Group, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen w/PI Associate Professor Zachary Gerhart-Hines

The Clemmensen Group studies the biological regulation of body weight and aims at developing new therapeutic strategies that can correct obesity and its metabolic comorbidities.

The Gerhart-Hines Group explores how neuronal, hormonal, and nutrient signalling networks govern adipose tissue biology and influence systemic energy homeostasis. They employ pharmacological and genetic approaches to interrogate physiological function and to identify opportunities for therapeutically harnessing adipose tissue metabolism.

Meet Camilla Trang Vo

Camilla Trang Vo obtained her MSc in Biochemistry from the University of Copenhagen in 2021. Since then, she has been working as a research assistant at Center for Translational Neuromedicine, University of Copenhagen, investigating how glial cells influence neuroplasticity in the brains of mice.

Camilla is also very interested in how neuromodulators, for example dopamine, are involved in affective disorders like depression. She believes that the effect of neuromodulators on glial cells could shed new light on the development of treatment:

“The prefrontal cortex, or at least the huge size of it is – so to speak – what separates us humans from animals and makes us more complex thinking. Its function is regulated by neuromodulators, and it has been associated with affective disorders like depression and schizophrenia, and it is definitely a field I would like to investigate further. (…)  When it comes to depression and other affective disorders, I think we should not necessarily focus our investigation entirely on single neurons. Astrocytes, which regulate larger neural circuits, could also be an interesting target for treatment.”

With a background in biochemistry, Camilla has struggled to gain specialisation in neuroscience, and she expects that the NAD programme will provide her with an opportunity to strengthen her neuroscience profile through courses, lab rotations and new scientific connections.

In her research, Camilla is driven by her curiosity and the hope of making a difference in treatment: “More and more people are diagnosed with depression and other affective disorders (…) I hope that I can contribute to a treatment or gain knowledge for prevention in some way.”