Nella Delva

Coffee and Conversation with Nella Delva and Honorine Rouiller | English | Digital Narratives | April 6, 2021

Why FSU?

I knew before coming to FSU that I wanted to be exposed to a range of health and disease-associated research topics in my graduate experience. My decision to attend FSU’s Biomedical Sciences PhD program is primarily due to the diversity of research questions and technical approaches that they offer. This program was one of the few that had a variety of research topics which satisfied my scientific curiosity as PhD trainee.

Motivation to pursue a graduate degree

My motivation to pursue a doctoral degree stems from my passion for learning about biological processes, specifically about individual molecules and their association with specific health concerns and diseases. I spent most of my undergraduate experience exposed to biological/biomedical research, and this exposure was one of the first to ignite my urge and passion for biomedical science. In the future, perhaps, I hope to be able to contribute to furthering knowledge within my field, as I plan to have a career in academia.

Importance and impact of research

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is projected to be the second leading cause of disability and mortality worldwide over the next two decades. However, many individuals do not respond to currently available medicines to treat MDD. While most attention has focused on the neurotransmitter serotonin, studies have found important roles for dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons and DA-modulated circuits, including dopaminoceptive cerebral cortical GABAergic neurons. My thesis project will focus on targeting Dopamine D1 receptors expressed specifically on cerebral cortical interneurons to develop new pharmacotherapy for MDD.

Advice for prospective graduate students

My advice is, do it!

Most importantly, the value of mentorship is not mentioned enough in academia. Getting a mentor who’s invested in your personal and intellectual growth is imperative in graduate school. Pick wisely, but do find that person who will be a mentor to you and allow them to guide you through transforming your academic experience to be the most fruitful one.

Accomplishments during graduate career

I recently published an article focused on dysregulation of brain dopamine (DA) systems in the pathophysiology of MDD and describing new cellular targets for potential medication development focused on DA-modulated micro-circuits. I also discussed how neurodevelopmental factors may modify the risk for the later emergence of MDD, possibly through dopaminergic substrates in the brain. I am also a McKnight Doctoral Fellow!

Career aspirations

I aspire to be a research professor at a well-reputed research institution, specifically an institution where I am able to inspire young Black women who are interested in pursuing STEM fields. I enjoy teaching and mentoring as well, so I hope to be working and contributing to an academic institution where I can inspire and guide underrepresented students.

GradImpact Profile