Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Dr Sarah Judge

Staff Scientist



Staff scientist

Additional Responsibilities

Member of the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (2012-2016)

Member of the Pharmacology Curriculum Committee

Personal Tutor

Lecturer / assessor / seminar leader

PhD / MRes supervisor


Ph.D. Neuroscience
B.Sc. Hons. Zoology

Previous Positions

Wellcome Trust funded Research Associate, School of Neurology, Neurobiology and Psychiatry, University of Newcastle(2002-2005)

NIH funded Research Associate, Department of Psychology, Boston University, USA (2000-2002)

Honours and Awards

Fellowship award from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2005.

Organon Prize for the best paper in Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2005.


British Toxicology Society

International Neurotoxicology Association

External Activities

Ambassador for the British Toxicology Society

Member of the British Toxicology Society Scientific Sub-Committee

Member of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment


I am interested in understanding how chemicals interact with the brain and contribute to the development of neurological and psychiatric disorders. 

Early career in psychopharmacology

Investigated how hormone level changes could contribute to the development of mood disorders such as depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.    We found that stress hormones and sex hormones could alter the function of the 5-HT (serotonin) system, which is important in modulating our moods.   

Neurotoxicology at the Medical Toxicology Centre

My research questions begin with clinical observations or epidemiological evidence that chemical exposure is associated with an adverse health effect.  We then investigate how that chemical can affect the brain leading to that particular health effect, providing a mechanistic link. 

Low level pesticide exposure

There is epidemiological evidence that low level exposure to pesticides can lead to symptoms associated with psychiatric disorders.  We are investigating the effects of low levels of pesticides on brain function using behavioural, neurochemical and electrophysiological techniques.

We are currently collecting information about pesticides people use in their homes to inform future studies on pesticide exposure. Please complete our on-line survey

The survey can take up to 1 hour depending on how many chemicals you use, but this detailed information will provide us with the most accurate picture of which combinations of pesticides people are using.

Recreational drugs

Clinical observations indicate that the newer “legal highs” have mechanisms of action in addition to those that are known.  We are investigating the effects of recreational drugs on brain function using neurotransmitter uptake and electrophysiological techniques.

Marine toxins

Case reports indicated that the neurotoxic effects of the toxin, domoic acid, found in mussels and other shellfish, were worse in men than women.  We demonstrated that the magnitude of the effect was not different between males and females, but the onset was earlier in females. 

The sting of the lesser weever fish, found in the North Sea, can cause acute and intense pain.  In collaboration with Dr Caldwell in the School of Marine Science and Technology  we are investigating the toxic mechanisms of their venom.

Public engagement

We’re always keen to discuss our work with the public.  One example is our recent partnership with a team of senior school pupils through the leading edge engagement programme.  The pupils told me they were interested in examining the effects of chemicals found in soft drinks they consume. Under my supervision they developed and conducted their own experiment to test the ingredients.  They found that some of the chemicals can affect motor activity.  Their data and the partnership experience were published in a peer-reviewed scientific paper with the pupils as authors!

Current lab members

Israa Al-Banaa

Lucy Gorman

Adam Potts


Undergraduate Teaching

BMS3013: Diseases of the human nervous system

CMB3000: BSc Biosciences Research Project

CSIM2-91: Neuropharmacology

PED1002: Pharmacology

PED3008: Advanced Topics in Neuropharmacology


Member of the Pharmacology Curriculum Committee

Personal tutor