Mark Yeoman

Dr, Ph.D Neuropharmacology, Director of the Centre for Stress and Age-related Disease

1992 …2020

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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr Mark Yeoman and his research team are interested in the basic biology of CNS and gastrointestinal tract ageing with a specific focus on the roles played by stress, inflammation and replicative senescence in the ageing phenotype.

His research on the basic biology of ageing started in 1997 on joining the University of Brighton. The work initially built on his postdoctoral experience and utilised the pond snail, Lymnaea to examine the cell biology of CNS ageing. This work identified how age-related alterations in the firing frequency and synaptic connectivity of a pair of serotonergic neurons could account for the behavioural changes in feeding with increasing age. Most recently these changes in firing frequency have been linked to a switch in the mode of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger. Because the neural networks that underlie the feeding behaviour in the pond snail are well understood, it is relatively easy to utilise this system to perform a top-down approach and relate changes in behaviour to alterations in the function of specific neurons. 

Another system in which this is starting to become possible is the mammalian lower bowel. The neural circuitry of the myenteric and submucosal plexi that control motility in the lower bowel are well described, providing the possibility of relating changes in function to defined alterations in the circuitry. We have shown that colonic motility and pellet output is reduced with age, and that this is associated with the impairment of a long lasting component of the contraction. Most recently the team has begun to become interested in the biology associated with the detrimental health effects of social isolation, in both invertebrate and vertebrate models. This work will focus on the detrimental effects that social isolation stress has on learning and memory formation.

Scholarly biography

Dr Mark Yeoman is a Reader in Neuropharmacology and Director of the Centre for STress and Age-Related Disease.  His research interests focus on the causes and consequences of the natural ageing process in both the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract.

Dr Yeoman's interests in cell signalling began at the University of Southampton in 1980 where he studied for a BSc in Physiology and Pharmacology. His final year project researched the pharmacology of a connection between two regions of the brain called the substantia nigra and the hippocampus. In 1983 he moved to the University of Aberdeen to study for his PhD. The work for his PhD was carried out in collaboration with the diving industry and examined the effects of pressure on the nervous system.

In 1987 he obtained a post-doctoral position at the University of Sussex researching the pharmacology of rhythm generating circuits. The ability to study the pharmacology of relatively simple neural networks and how these networks control well defined behaviours continues to fascinate him. In 1991, he was appointed as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Sussex Centre for Neuroscience where his work examined the role played by multiple co-released neurotransmitters in cell signalling. Under the mentorship of Professors Paul Benjamin and Michael O’Shea Dr Yeoman was able to secure a Lectureship in Neuroscience at the University of Sussex. 

In 1997, he moved to the University of Brighton to take up a position as a Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology. He lectures in both CNS and cardiovascular pharmacology to Pharmacy, Medical and Nursing undergraduates. During his time at Brighton Dr Yeoman has been a course leader for the intercalated degree in pharmacology for the medical students, developed a comprehensive hospital placement for the 3rd year Pharmacy students and developed an active research group that has focused on using simple model systems to study the basic biology of ageing and has been supported by over £1.5 million of funding from the EPSRC, BBSRC and NIHR. More recently his research has begun to focus on how social isolation and age combine to impair cellular and organismal homeostasis.

Approach to teaching

I teach on a wide variety of courses including the four-year MPharm degree the five-year medical degree and also on the one-year intercalated degree in pharmacology. My teaching focuses on allowing students to understand how the properties of electrically excitable cells are coordinated to produce a functioning organ system and how the function of the system can be altered by pathology and corrected through the use of pharmacological agents.

In the early years of the degree my teaching drives the students to understand the basic concepts that underlie organ function, pathology and pharmacological interventions. Much of my lecture material is worked through from first principles on the board ‘chalk and talk’ and student engagement is maintained through interactive questions. Teaching in the later years of the degree utilises this understanding in small group teaching (workshops and journal clubs) to understand data that has recently been published in scientific articles.

Supervisory Interests

My research is interested in how age-related changes in serotonergic signalling pathways contributes to dementia, age-related motor dysfunction and faecal incontinence. My groups work uses a systems biology approach to study the effects of increased age on the release of serotonin from both central neurons and peripheral enterochromaffin cells and through the use of a range of functional assays explores how these changes link with impiarments in learning and memory, motor and bowel function.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Aberdeen

1 Oct 19831 Jul 1987

Award Date: 1 Jul 1987

Bachelor, University of Southampton

1 Oct 198026 Jul 1983

Award Date: 26 Jul 1983

Keywords

  • QP Physiology
  • Ageing
  • CNS
  • GI Tract
  • Serotonin
  • Rhythm generation

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