Delia Belelli

Senior Researcher

University of Dundee
Division of System Medicine
Ninewells Hospital Medical School

 Anniversary brochure contribution by Delia Belelli


Delia graduated from the University of Cagliari in Pharmaceutical Chemistry with specialization in Neuroscience in 1987. From 1988 to 1992 Delia worked as post-doctoral fellow at University of Southern California, School of Pharmacy, Los Angeles to develop in vitro (binding, autoradiography and 36Cl flux) techniques and behavioural tests to investigate allosteric modulation of native and recombinant GABAA receptors by a new class of endogenous and synthetic neuroactive steroids. Delia joined the University of Dundee in April 1992 to work on a project investigating allosteric modulation of recombinant GABAA receptors by general anaesthetics and neurosteroids. Following the Award of a UK Medical Research Council Senior Non-Clinical Fellowship in 1999, Delia set up her own laboratory to investigate the physiological and pharmacological significance of GABAA receptor heterogeneity using a multidisciplinary approach combining ex vivo slice electrophysiology with immunohistochemistry and behavioural analysis (in collaboration) in transgenic mouse models. Having acquired a tenured post as a Lecturer in 2000, Delia became Senior Lecturer in 2006 and Reader in June 2011 until 2015. While heading a group of 6-8 researchers, her research efforts have focussed over the past decade on the investigation of the role of genes e.g. GABAAR and environment in the development of psychopathology through the use of suitable animal models e.g. early-life stress models. In 2016, Delia got an award for a 6 months Visiting Professorship at the University of Copenhagen, Dept. of Drug Design and Pharmacology. As a career advisor at St. Andrew’s University until 2019, she an enthusiastic mentor and motivator of undergraduate and postgraduate students and greatly enjoys a collegial and collaborative working ethic. From January 2019 she is a Senior Scientist in the Division of System Medicine, Neuroscience at the University of Dundee, Scotland and an Honorary Reader at the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews.


Main research fields:

  • Physiological, pathophysiological and pharmacological significance of GABAA receptor heterogeneity
  • Neurosteroids: the brain’s Valium
  • Early-life adversity (ELA) in psychiatric and neurological disorders
  • Identification of translation-relevant phenotypes in mouse models of psychiatric and neurological disorders.