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Personal profile

Academic Biography

Dr. Ahmad Khundakar is a Senior Lecturer at Teesside University and Associate Lecturer at the Translational and Clinical Research Institute, Newcastle University. He has a broad base of expertise in biomedical science and neuroscience and has published and presented extensively in neuropharmacology and neuropathology.

Summary of Research Interests

Dr. Khundakar's research primarily involves investigating the molecular and pathological mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson's disease, and depression.

Currently, Dr. Khundakar serves as the Principal Investigator (PI) for a project at the National Horizons Centre. This project focuses on developing novel diagnostic methods for analysing biofluids obtained from Lewy body dementia patients. The techniques employed include Raman spectroscopy, immunohistochemistry, liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), immunoblot techniques, and machine/deep learning technologies. Additionally, he acts as a co-investigator and supervisor (with PI Filippou) for a PhD project that aims to uncover novel cancer biomarkers in various tissue samples using innovative label-free techniques.

Previously, Dr. Khundakar supervised a laboratory-based PhD project funded by the National Institute for Health Research at Newcastle University. The project, titled 'Assessment of thalamic circuitry in hallucinations in dementia with Lewy bodies,' was successfully completed. He also served as a co-supervisor for a laboratory-based Alzheimer's Society-funded Doctoral Training Centre PhD project titled 'The role of the cingulate cortex in depression and executive dysfunction in dementia with Lewy bodies.'

In his postdoctoral work, Dr. Khundakar examined structural and molecular changes in post-mortem tissue obtained from patients with late-life depression using unbiased stereological procedures. This research identified specific morphological changes in brain regions associated with affective regulation in depressed patients, which may indicate impending mild cognitive impairment and eventual dementia in these individuals.

Dr. Khundakar's own PhD research focused on the role of neurotrophic factors in antidepressant function in the hippocampus region of the brain. His findings suggested that chronic, as opposed to acute, administration of antidepressant drugs and electroconvulsive shock increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, implying its central role in depression and its treatment.

Learning and Teaching Interests and Activities

Course leader:

  • BSc (hons) Biomedical Science 

Module leader:

  • The Pathobiology of Neurological Diseases (postgraduate)
  • Diagnostic and Experimental Pathology (undergraduate)

Lecturer:

  • Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics (postgraduate)
  • Taught on MRCPsych Old Age Psychiatry (Health Education North East)

Former module leader:

  • Clinical Pharmacology (undergraduate)
  • Human Ageing and Disease (undergraduate)
  • Pathology (undergraduate)
  • Experimental Methods in Life Science (foundation)

PhD Supervision

  • Nathan Coles (SHLS, Teesside University)

PhD Completions

  • Dr Agathe Quesnel (SHLS, Teesside University)
  • Dr Daniel Erskine (Newcastle University)
  • Dr Lina Patterson (Newcastle University)

 

Research Projects & External Funding

  • PI: 2023. 'Label-free Raman spectral analysis of α-synuclein aggregation using a modified RT-QuIC assay in post-mortem cerebrospinal tissue in Lewy body dementia' Alzheimer’s Research UK Network Centre Pump-priming grant. £4292.
  • PI: 2022. 'An examination of phosphoproteome patterns in alpha synuclein using LC-MS/MS'. Alzheimer’s Research UK Network Centre Pump-priming grant. £4327.
  • Co-I: 2021-2024. 'Determining the impact of multiple pathologies in Lewy body dementia'. Alzheimer’s Research UK. £207,416. 
  • Co-I: 2015–2019. ‘Understanding the basis and interaction of non-cognitive and cognitive symptoms in dementia with Lewy bodies’. Alzheimer’s Society Doctoral Training Centre Grant. £350,000
  • PI: 2014. ‘The role of the thalamic lateral pulvinar nucleus in visual hallucinations in the LBD’. Society for Biology Undergraduate Research Bursaries. £1440.
  • PI/DoS: 2013–2017. 'The role of visual components of the thalamus in visual hallucinations in the LBD’. NIHR Yvonne Mairy PhD studentship). £177,000.
  • Co-I: 2013–2016. ‘Molecular mechanisms underlying visual hallucinations in LBD. Alzheimer’s Society. £178,419.
  • PI: 2012–2013. ‘Investigating the biochemical basis of visual hallucinations in LBD’. NIHR Newcastle BRU Award. £41,000

External Research Collaborations

  • Centre for SHLS Biodiscovery Disease Analytics cluster lead. 
  • Dementia and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network member.
  • Lewy Body Dementia Association 'Prodromal' and 'Trial Methods' ISTAART Working Groups member.
  • Deep Dementia Phenotyping (DEMON) Network member
  • NovoPath Seminar Group member.
  • Neurodegenerative Pathology Research Group at Newcastle University. https://research.ncl.ac.uk/ndprg/.

External Roles and Professional Activities

  • Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Science.
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

  • Review Editor in Aging Psychiatry for Frontiers in Psychiatry.
  • Review Editor in Dementia pathology and Co-morbidities for Frontiers in Dementia.
  • Manuscript reviewer for British Journal of Psychiatry, Psychopharmacology, Current Drug Targets, Pharmacogenetics and Genomics, Journal of Affective Disorders, Psychiatry Research, Current Molecular Medicine, Neurobiology of Aging, Neurobiology of Disease, and Frontiers in Psychiatry.
  • Member of the Alzheimer's Research UK Network Pump Panel Award Panel.
  • Grant reviewer for EPSRC, Alzheimer’s Society (twice) and BRACE - Alzheimer's Research.
  • Member of the Alzheimer's Association.

  • Proofreader/Copy Editor.

Education/Academic qualification

PGCert PCLTE, Teesside University

4 Oct 20171 Aug 2018

Award Date: 1 Aug 2018

PhD, (Applied Neuroscience) The effect of antidepressant treatment on hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression , De Montfort University

1 Oct 20001 Oct 2004

Award Date: 4 Nov 2004

Master, (Neuroscience) The effect of hypoxia on nerve ring morphology in Caenorhabditis elegans , University of Manchester

23 Sept 199922 Sept 2000

Award Date: 4 Sept 2000

Bachelor, (Human Biology) A systematic review of bilateral versus unilateral electroconvulsive therapy in major depressive disorder, Leeds Metropolitan University

23 Sept 199517 Jul 1998

Award Date: 17 Jul 1998

External positions

Associate Lecturer, Translational and Clinical Research Institute Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

4 Oct 2017 → …

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