Professor James Fawcett

James Fawcett

University position

Head of Department

Professor James Fawcett is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Department of Clinical Neurosciences


Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair


Home page (personal home page)

Research Themes

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Developmental Neuroscience


Axon regeneration in the damaged CNS: Regeneration of axons after CNS damage is blocked by several molecules in the environment and by loss of intrinsic regeneration ability, We modify the environment to make it more permissive and modify axonal properties to improve regeneration.

Plasticity is the main mechanism for functional recovery after damage to the nervous system. In childhood plasticity is largely turned off by extracellular matrix structures called perineeuronal nets. By moduating their function we can improve functional recovery and memory in the adult CNS.

Interfacing the nervous system with electronics: We are developing a microchannel interface prosthesis which allows permanent extracellular recording from axons. This technology is being developed for control of bladder function in paralyzed human and veterinary patients, and for controlling prosthetic limbs.

kinesin kif3C on the tips of microtubules in an axon growth cone
kinesin kif3C on the tips of microtubules in an axon growth cone
Click image to view full-size

Research Focus


axon regeneration


extracellular matrix



Clinical conditions

Multiple sclerosis

Peripheral nerve injury

Spinal cord injury


Traumatic brain injury


Behavioural analysis

Cell culture

Electrophysiological recording techniques



Tim Bussey

Robin Franklin

Christine Holt

Roger Keynes

Keith Martin

Lisa Saksida

Maria-Grazia Spillantini

United Kingdom

Nick Donaldson Web:

Stephen McMahon Web:

Edward Tarte Web:


Jochen Guck Web:

Tommaso Pizzorusso Web:

Martin Schwab Web:

Joost Verhaagen Web:

Key publications

Kappagantula S, Andrews MR, Cheah M, Abad-Rodriguez J, Dotti CG, Fawcett JW (2014), “Neu3 sialidase-mediated ganglioside conversion is necessary for axon regeneration and is blocked in CNS axons.” J Neurosci 34(7):2477-92 Details

Chew DJ, Zhu L, Delivopoulos E, Minev IR, Musick KM, Mosse CA, Craggs M, Donaldson N, Lacour SP, McMahon SB, Fawcett JW (2013), “A microchannel neuroprosthesis for bladder control after spinal cord injury in rat.” Sci Transl Med 5(210):210ra155 Details

Gumy LF, Chew DJ, Tortosa E, Katrukha EA, Kapitein LC, Tolkovsky AM, Hoogenraad CC, Fawcett JW (2013), “The kinesin-2 family member KIF3C regulates microtubule dynamics and is required for axon growth and regeneration.” J Neurosci 33(28):11329-45 Details

Romberg C, Yang S, Melani R, Andrews MR, Horner AE, Spillantini MG, Bussey TJ, Fawcett JW, Pizzorusso T, Saksida LM (2013), “Depletion of perineuronal nets enhances recognition memory and long-term depression in the perirhinal cortex.” J Neurosci 33(16):7057-65 Details

Vo T, Carulli D, Ehlert EM, Kwok JC, Dick G, Mecollari V, Moloney EB, Neufeld G, de Winter F, Fawcett JW, Verhaagen J (2013), “The chemorepulsive axon guidance protein semaphorin3A is a constituent of perineuronal nets in the adult rodent brain.” Mol Cell Neurosci 56:186-200 Details

Eva R, Crisp S, Marland JR, Norman JC, Kanamarlapudi V, ffrench-Constant C, Fawcett JW (2012), “ARF6 directs axon transport and traffic of integrins and regulates axon growth in adult DRG neurons.” J Neurosci 32(30):10352-64 Details

Tan CL, Andrews MR, Kwok JC, Heintz TG, Gumy LF, Fässler R, Fawcett JW (2012), “Kindlin-1 enhances axon growth on inhibitory chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans and promotes sensory axon regeneration.” J Neurosci 32(21):7325-35 Details

Carulli D, Pizzorusso T, Kwok JC, Putignano E, Poli A, Forostyak S, Andrews MR, Deepa SS, Glant TT, Fawcett JW (2010), “Animals lacking link protein have attenuated perineuronal nets and persistent plasticity.” Brain 133(Pt 8):2331-47 Details

Andrews MR, Czvitkovich S, Dassie E, Vogelaar CF, Faissner A, Blits B, Gage FH, ffrench-Constant C, Fawcett JW (2009), “Alpha9 integrin promotes neurite outgrowth on tenascin-C and enhances sensory axon regeneration.” J Neurosci 29(17):5546-57 Details

García-Alías G, Barkhuysen S, Buckle M, Fawcett JW (2009), “Chondroitinase ABC treatment opens a window of opportunity for task-specific rehabilitation.” Nat Neurosci 12(9):1145-51 Details

Bradbury, EJ, Moon LDF, Popat RJ, King VR, Bennett GS, Patel PN, Fawcett JW, McMahon SB (2002), “Chondroitinase ABC promotes axon regeneration and functional recovery following spinal cord injury” Nature 416:636-640

Pizzorusso T, Medini P, Berardi N, Chierzi S, Fawcett JW, Maffei L (2002), “Reactivation of ocular dominance plasticity in the adult visual cortex with chondroitinase ABC” Science 298:1248-1251



Dassie E, Andrews MR, Bensadoun JC, Cacquevel M, Schneider BL, Aebischer P, Wouters FS, Richardson JC, Hussain I, Howlett DR, Spillantini MG, Fawcett JW (2013), “Focal expression of adeno-associated viral-mutant tau induces widespread impairment in an APP mouse model.” Neurobiol Aging 34(5):1355-68 Details

Dick G, Tan CL, Alves JN, Ehlert EM, Miller GM, Hsieh-Wilson LC, Sugahara K, Oosterhof A, van Kuppevelt TH, Verhaagen J, Fawcett JW, Kwok JC (2013), “Semaphorin 3A binds to the perineuronal nets via chondroitin sulfate type E motifs in rodent brains.” J Biol Chem 288(38):27384-95 Details

Granger N, Chew D, Fairhurst P, Fawcett JW, Lacour SP, Craggs M, Mosse CA, Donaldson N, Jeffery ND (2013), “Use of an implanted sacral nerve stimulator to restore urine voiding in chronically paraplegic dogs.” J Vet Intern Med 27(1):99-105 Details

Minev IR, Moshayedi P, Fawcett JW, Lacour SP (2013), “Interaction of glia with a compliant, microstructured silicone surface.” Acta Biomater 9(6):6936-42 Details

Soleman S, Filippov MA, Dityatev A, Fawcett JW (2013), “Targeting the neural extracellular matrix in neurological disorders.” Neuroscience 253:194-213 Details

Vorobyov V, Kwok JC, Fawcett JW, Sengpiel F (2013), “Effects of digesting chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans on plasticity in cat primary visual cortex.” J Neurosci 33(1):234-43 Details

Zhao RR, Andrews MR, Wang D, Warren P, Gullo M, Schnell L, Schwab ME, Fawcett JW (2013), “Combination treatment with anti-Nogo-A and chondroitinase ABC is more effective than single treatments at enhancing functional recovery after spinal cord injury.” Eur J Neurosci 38(6):2946-61 Details


Bosch KD, Bradbury EJ, Verhaagen J, Fawcett JW, McMahon SB (2012), “Chondroitinase ABC promotes plasticity of spinal reflexes following peripheral nerve injury.” Exp Neurol 238(1):64-78 Details

Bradke F, Fawcett JW, Spira ME (2012), “Assembly of a new growth cone after axotomy: the precursor to axon regeneration.” Nat Rev Neurosci 13(3):183-93 Details

Chew DJ, Fawcett JW, Andrews MR (2012), “The challenges of long-distance axon regeneration in the injured CNS.” Prog Brain Res 201:253-94 Details

Delivopoulos E, Chew DJ, Minev IR, Fawcett JW, Lacour SP (2012), “Concurrent recordings of bladder afferents from multiple nerves using a microfabricated PDMS microchannel electrode array.” Lab Chip 12(14):2540-51 Details

Eva R, Andrews MR, Franssen EH, Fawcett JW (2012), “Intrinsic mechanisms regulating axon regeneration: an integrin perspective.” Int Rev Neurobiol 106:75-104 Details

Fawcett JW, Schwab ME, Montani L, Brazda N, Müller HW (2012), “Defeating inhibition of regeneration by scar and myelin components.” Handb Clin Neurol 109:503-22 Details

FitzGerald JJ, Lago N, Benmerah S, Serra J, Watling CP, Cameron RE, Tarte E, Lacour SP, McMahon SB, Fawcett JW (2012), “A regenerative microchannel neural interface for recording from and stimulating peripheral axons in vivo.” J Neural Eng 9(1):016010 Details

García-Alías G, Fawcett JW (2012), “Training and anti-CSPG combination therapy for spinal cord injury.” Exp Neurol 235(1):26-32 Details

Guest J, Harrop JS, Aarabi B, Grossman RG, Fawcett JW, Fehlings MG, Tator CH (2012), “Optimization of the decision-making process for the selection of therapeutics to undergo clinical testing for spinal cord injury in the North American Clinical Trials Network.” J Neurosurg Spine 17(1 Suppl):94-101 Details

Kwok JC, Warren P, Fawcett JW (2012), “Chondroitin sulfate: a key molecule in the brain matrix.” Int J Biochem Cell Biol 44(4):582-6 Details

Kwok JC, Yuen YL, Lau WK, Zhang FX, Fawcett JW, Chan YS, Shum DK (2012), “Chondroitin sulfates in the developing rat hindbrain confine commissural projections of vestibular nuclear neurons.” Neural Dev 7:6 Details

Lorber B, Guidi A, Fawcett JW, Martin KR (2012), “Activated retinal glia mediated axon regeneration in experimental glaucoma.” Neurobiol Dis 45(1):243-52 Details

Minev IR, Chew DJ, Delivopoulos E, Fawcett JW, Lacour SP (2012), “High sensitivity recording of afferent nerve activity using ultra-compliant microchannel electrodes: an acute in vivo validation.” J Neural Eng 9(2):026005 Details

Orlando C, Ster J, Gerber U, Fawcett JW, Raineteau O (2012), “Perisynaptic chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans restrict structural plasticity in an integrin-dependent manner.” J Neurosci 32(50):18009-17, 18017a Details


Afshari FT, Kwok JC, Fawcett JW (2011), “Analysis of Schwann-astrocyte interactions using in vitro assays.” J Vis Exp (47) Details

Al-Mayhani MT, Grenfell R, Narita M, Piccirillo S, Kenney-Herbert E, Fawcett JW, Collins VP, Ichimura K, Watts C (2011), “NG2 expression in glioblastoma identifies an actively proliferating population with an aggressive molecular signature.” Neuro Oncol 13(8):830-45 Details

García-Alías G, Petrosyan HA, Schnell L, Horner PJ, Bowers WJ, Mendell LM, Fawcett JW, Arvanian VL (2011), “Chondroitinase ABC combined with neurotrophin NT-3 secretion and NR2D expression promotes axonal plasticity and functional recovery in rats with lateral hemisection of the spinal cord.” J Neurosci 31(49):17788-99 Details

Gumy LF, Yeo GS, Tung YC, Zivraj KH, Willis D, Coppola G, Lam BY, Twiss JL, Holt CE, Fawcett JW (2011), “Transcriptome analysis of embryonic and adult sensory axons reveals changes in mRNA repertoire localization.” RNA 17(1):85-98 Details

Kwok JC, Dick G, Wang D, Fawcett JW (2011), “Extracellular matrix and perineuronal nets in CNS repair.” Dev Neurobiol 71(11):1073-89 Details

Lin R, Rosahl TW, Whiting PJ, Fawcett JW, Kwok JC (2011), “6-Sulphated chondroitins have a positive influence on axonal regeneration.” PLoS One 6(7):e21499 Details

Tan CL, Kwok JC, Patani R, Ffrench-Constant C, Chandran S, Fawcett JW (2011), “Integrin activation promotes axon growth on inhibitory chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans by enhancing integrin signaling.” J Neurosci 31(17):6289-95 Details

Wang D, Ichiyama RM, Zhao R, Andrews MR, Fawcett JW (2011), “Chondroitinase combined with rehabilitation promotes recovery of forelimb function in rats with chronic spinal cord injury.” J Neurosci 31(25):9332-44 Details

Zariffa J, Kramer JL, Fawcett JW, Lammertse DP, Blight AR, Guest J, Jones L, Burns S, Schubert M, Bolliger M, Curt A, Steeves JD (2011), “Characterization of neurological recovery following traumatic sensorimotor complete thoracic spinal cord injury.” Spinal Cord 49(3):463-71 Details

Zhao RR, Muir EM, Alves JN, Rickman H, Allan AY, Kwok JC, Roet KC, Verhaagen J, Schneider BL, Bensadoun JC, Ahmed SG, Yáñez-Muñoz RJ, Keynes RJ, Fawcett JW, Rogers JH (2011), “Lentiviral vectors express chondroitinase ABC in cortical projections and promote sprouting of injured corticospinal axons.” J Neurosci Methods 201(1):228-38 Details


Afshari FT, Kwok JC, Andrews MR, Blits B, Martin KR, Faissner A, Ffrench-Constant C, Fawcett JW (2010), “Integrin activation or alpha 9 expression allows retinal pigmented epithelial cell adhesion on Bruch's membrane in wet age-related macular degeneration.” Brain 133(Pt 2):448-64 Details

Afshari FT, Kwok JC, Fawcett JW (2010), “Astrocyte-produced ephrins inhibit schwann cell migration via VAV2 signaling.” J Neurosci 30(12):4246-55 Details

Afshari FT, Kwok JC, White L, Fawcett JW (2010), “Schwann cell migration is integrin-dependent and inhibited by astrocyte-produced aggrecan.” Glia 58(7):857-69 Details

Dobbertin A, Czvitkovich S, Theocharidis U, Garwood J, Andrews MR, Properzi F, Lin R, Fawcett JW, Faissner A (2010), “Analysis of combinatorial variability reveals selective accumulation of the fibronectin type III domains B and D of tenascin-C in injured brain.” Exp Neurol 225(1):60-73 Details

Eva R, Dassie E, Caswell PT, Dick G, ffrench-Constant C, Norman JC, Fawcett JW (2010), “Rab11 and its effector Rab coupling protein contribute to the trafficking of beta 1 integrins during axon growth in adult dorsal root ganglion neurons and PC12 cells.” J Neurosci 30(35):11654-69 Details

Gumy LF, Tan CL, Fawcett JW (2010), “The role of local protein synthesis and degradation in axon regeneration.” Exp Neurol 223(1):28-37 Details

Hunanyan AS, García-Alías G, Alessi V, Levine JM, Fawcett JW, Mendell LM, Arvanian VL (2010), “Role of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans in axonal conduction in Mammalian spinal cord.” J Neurosci 30(23):7761-9 Details

Hyatt AJ, Wang D, Kwok JC, Fawcett JW, Martin KR (2010), “Controlled release of chondroitinase ABC from fibrin gel reduces the level of inhibitory glycosaminoglycan chains in lesioned spinal cord.” J Control Release 147(1):24-9 Details

Kwok JC, Carulli D, Fawcett JW (2010), “In vitro modeling of perineuronal nets: hyaluronan synthase and link protein are necessary for their formation and integrity.” J Neurochem 114(5):1447-59 Details

Muir EM, Fyfe I, Gardiner S, Li L, Warren P, Fawcett JW, Keynes RJ, Rogers JH (2010), “Modification of N-glycosylation sites allows secretion of bacterial chondroitinase ABC from mammalian cells.” J Biotechnol 145(2):103-10 Details

Steeves JD, Kramer JK, Fawcett JW, Cragg J, Lammertse DP, Blight AR, Marino RJ, Ditunno JF Jr, Coleman WP, Geisler FH, Guest J, Jones L, Burns S, Schubert M, van Hedel HJ, Curt A (2010), “Extent of spontaneous motor recovery after traumatic cervical sensorimotor complete spinal cord injury.” Spinal Cord Details

Zivraj KH, Tung YC, Piper M, Gumy L, Fawcett JW, Yeo GS, Holt CE (2010), “Subcellular profiling reveals distinct and developmentally regulated repertoire of growth cone mRNAs.” J Neurosci 30(46):15464-78 Details


Afshari FT, Fawcett JW (2009), “Improving RPE adhesion to Bruch's membrane.” Eye (Lond) 23(10):1890-3 Details

Afshari FT, Kappagantula S, Fawcett JW (2009), “Extrinsic and intrinsic factors controlling axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury.” Expert Rev Mol Med 11:e37 Details

Arvanian VL, Schnell L, Lou L, Golshani R, Hunanyan A, Ghosh A, Pearse DD, Robinson JK, Schwab ME, Fawcett JW, Mendell LM (2009), “Chronic spinal hemisection in rats induces a progressive decline in transmission in uninjured fibers to motoneurons.” Exp Neurol 216(2):471-80 Details

Fawcett JW (2009), “Recovery from spinal cord injury: regeneration, plasticity and rehabilitation.” Brain 132(Pt 6):1417-8 Details

Fawcett JW, Curt A (2009), “Damage control in the nervous system: rehabilitation in a plastic environment.” Nat Med 15(7):735-6 Details

FitzGerald JJ, Lacour SP, McMahon SB, Fawcett JW (2009), “Microchannel electrodes for recording and stimulation: in vitro evaluation.” IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 56(5):1524-34 Details

Vogelaar CF, Gervasi NM, Gumy LF, Story DJ, Raha-Chowdhury R, Leung KM, Holt CE, Fawcett JW (2009), “Axonal mRNAs: characterisation and role in the growth and regeneration of dorsal root ganglion axons and growth cones.” Mol Cell Neurosci 42(2):102-15 Details

Zhao JW, Raha-Chowdhury R, Fawcett JW, Watts C (2009), “Astrocytes and oligodendrocytes can be generated from NG2+ progenitors after acute brain injury: intracellular localization of oligodendrocyte transcription factor 2 is associated with their fate choice.” Eur J Neurosci 29(9):1853-69 Details


Fawcett JW (2008), “Bridging spinal cord injuries.” J Biol 7(7):25 Details

FitzGerald JJ, Lacour SP, Fawcett JW (2008), “Recording with microchannel electrodes in a noisy environment.” Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 2008:34-7 Details

Gervasi NM, Kwok JC, Fawcett JW (2008), “Role of extracellular factors in axon regeneration in the CNS: implications for therapy.” Regen Med 3(6):907-23 Details

Hampton DW, Anderson J, Pryce G, Irvine KA, Giovannoni G, Fawcett JW, Compston A, Franklin RJ, Baker D, Chandran S (2008), “An experimental model of secondary progressive multiple sclerosis that shows regional variation in gliosis, remyelination, axonal and neuronal loss.” J Neuroimmunol 201-202:200-11 Details

Kwok JC, Afshari F, García-Alías G, Fawcett JW (2008), “Proteoglycans in the central nervous system: plasticity, regeneration and their stimulation with chondroitinase ABC.” Restor Neurol Neurosci 26(2-3):131-45 Details

Verma P, Garcia-Alias G, Fawcett JW (2008), “Spinal cord repair: bridging the divide.” Neurorehabil Neural Repair 22(5):429-37 Details


Carulli D, Rhodes KE, Fawcett JW (2007), “Upregulation of aggrecan, link protein 1, and hyaluronan synthases during formation of perineuronal nets in the rat cerebellum.” J Comp Neurol 501(1):83-94 Details

Galtrey CM, Asher RA, Nothias F, Fawcett JW (2007), “Promoting plasticity in the spinal cord with chondroitinase improves functional recovery after peripheral nerve repair.” Brain 130(Pt 4):926-39 Details