Systems & Computational
Developmental
Cognitive & Behavioural
Clinical & Veterinary
Cellular & Molecular
Developmental

Cambridge has a long history of research in developmental biology and this continues to be one of the pioneering fields within neuroscience. To understand how cells and molecules function in the context of a developing organism, developmental biologists make use of a wide range of techniques, including molecular biology, cell biology, imaging, biochemistry, structural biology, genomics, bioinformatics, evolutionary studies and physiology. This offers the opportunity for many collaborative interactions, including the departments of Biochemistry, Pathology, Genetics, Physiology Development and Neuroscience, Veterinary Medicine, Zoology and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research. Developmental biology is a particular strength of the Gurdon Institute. Developmental mechanisms are highly conserved between species, with researchers working on organisms as diverse as Arabidopsis, Caenorhabditis elegans, chick, Drosophila, mouse, Xenopus and zebrafish to study problems such as the genetic and epigenetic bases of pluripotency, the mechanisms underlying cell migration and axon pathfinding and the transcriptional networks involved in the formation of tissues ranging from the testes to the neocortex.

Principal investigators

  • Richard Adams Dr Richard Adams
    My group is interested in the mechanisms of morphogenesis that shape the early central nervous system. Using zebrafish as a developmental model, we image the movements of many hundreds of cells using time-lapse micoscopy. Applying methods of image...
  • Duncan  Astle Dr Duncan Astle
    My research uses EEG and MEG with children and adults to explore the neural and cognitive mechanisms of top-down attentional control. In particular, I am interested in how these control mechanisms interact with our ability to store information in ...
  • Topun Austin Dr Topun Austin
    Brain injury in the newborn is a major cause of death and lifelong neurodisability placing an enormous burden on patients, their families and wider society. I lead the Cambridge Centre for Perinatal Neuroscience (CCPN), which includes a dedicated...
  • Bonnie Auyeung Dr Bonnie Auyeung
    Bonnie Auyeung is a researcher at the University's Autism Research Centre, where her primary research examines the effects of prenatal hormones on psychological and neural postnatal development.
  • Sara Baker Dr Sara Baker
    I am interested in the role of pre-frontal functions (i.e., impulse control) in the formation and expression of beliefs especially during early childhood. I use behavioral and physiological measures (eye-tracking) to examine how children learn to...
  • Clare Baker Dr Clare Baker
    We are investigating a broad range of questions relating to the development of neurogenic placodes and the neural crest, two embryonic cell populations in vertebrates that together build the entire peripheral nervous system. Neural crest cells als...
  • Simon Baron-Cohen Professor Simon Baron-Cohen
    The Autism Research Centre (ARC), of which I am Director, has 6 programs of research, all focusing on Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC): (a) Perception and Cognition (investigating social and non-social cognition and sensory processing); (b) Neu...
  • Michael Bate Professor Michael Bate
    My research is concerned with the way in which the machinery underlying coordinated movement is genetically specified and assembled during embryonic development. On the one hand this involves an analysis of the way in which muscles are assembled, ...
  • Andrea Brand Professor Andrea Brand FRS FMedSci
    Discovering how stem cells are maintained in a multipotent state and how their progeny differentiate into distinct cellular fates is a key step in the therapeutic use of stem cells to repair tissues after damage or disease. We are investigating th...
  • Sarah Bray Professor Sarah Bray
    We are interested in understanding the signalling pathways that co-ordinate the decisions made by cells during development. The ultimate fate of a cell is dictated in part by its heredity and in part through interactions with neighbouring cells. O...
  • Isabel  Clare Dr Isabel Clare
    I work in the Cambridge Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Group in the Dept. of Psychiatry and as a a senior member of the Enduring Disability and/or Disadvantage clinical theme in the NIHR's CLAHRC East of England. My research in...
  • Geoffrey Cook Dr Geoffrey Cook
    My research concerns the mechanisms controlling axon growth. In the laboratory we are investigating two axon-repulsive systems, 1) the characterization of somite glycoproteins that repel axons, creating the segmented pattern of spinal nerves durin...
  • Greg Davis Dr Greg Davis
    Consciousness, 'Free Will' Visual attention, vision, autism
  • Anthony Dickinson Professor Anthony Dickinson
    My primary research interests concern learning, memory, motivation, and future planning in both humans and animals. My interest in learning and memory is focussed on the distinction between goal-directed and habitual instrumental behaviour as asse...
  • Stephen Eglen Dr Stephen Eglen
    I use computational tools to help investigate mechanisms of neural development. In particular, I study the formation of retinotopic maps and retinal mosaics in vertebrate visual systems. In addition, I am interested in the analysis of large-scal...
  • James Fawcett Professor James Fawcett
    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 ...
  • Dr Lei Feng
    Psychiatric-Neuroimaging Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders Population-based cohort studies on dementia, cognitive decline and late-life depression Systematic review and meta-analysis on the epidemiology and novel treatments of psychiatric dis...
  • Anne Ferguson-Smith Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith
    Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic mechanism causing genes to be expressed depending on their parental origin. Our research investigates the mechanism and evolution of genomic imprinting and the function of imprinted genes in development and dise...
  • Robin Franklin Professor Robin Franklin
    Robin Franklin is Professor of Stem Cell Medicine and Head of Translational Science at the Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute. His lab works on the mechanisms of CNS regeneration with a particular focus on remyelination, an adult ste...
  • Kristian Franze Dr Kristian Franze
    We are taking an interdisciplinary approach to investigate how cellular forces, local cell and tissue compliance and cellular mechanosensitivity contribute to CNS development and disease. Methods we are exploiting include atomic force microscopy, ...
  • Dino Giussani Professor Dino Giussani
    We have intertwined our interests in oxygen and the development of the central nervous and cardiovascular systems to propose that oxidative stress underlies the common molecular pathway via which prenatal hypoxia contributes to a developmental ori...
  • Ian  Goodyer Professor Ian Goodyer
    I am a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist based at Cambridge University pursuing research into the connections between human development and psychopathology. My studies are centred on adolescents in the community as well as current patients. Our re...
  • Jochen Guck Dr Jochen Guck
    The paradigm that neurons in the CNS cannot regenerate is gone. While most research to date is biochemical, there are also physical aspects that need to be considered. We are developing tools to investigate axonal growth and to direct in a certain...
  • William Harris Professor William Harris
    Where does the nervous system come from in the embryo? How does it grow to the right size and shape? How do stem cells turn into more committed neuronal progenitors and how do these cells know when to leave the cycle and differentiate into neural ...
  • Melissa Hines Professor Melissa Hines
    I study gender development, and am particularly interested in how prenatal influences (e.g., gonadal hormones) interact with postnatal experience to shape brain development and behaviour. My current research programme includes studies of individu...
  • Tony Holland Professor Tony Holland
    The focus of our interdisciplinary research is on learning disabilities (intellectual disabilities/mental handicap) from different perspectives. Research to date has had the following main themes. First, the relationship between specific genetical...
  • Dr Joni Holmes
    I am interested in the overlap between working memory, attention and executive function processes in children and adults. My research has focussed on the role of working memory in children's mathematical skills, and on understanding the cognitive ...
  • Christine Holt Professor Christine Holt FRS FMedSci
    My laboratory studies how nerve connections are first established in the brain. We focus on the developing visual system and our main goal is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of axon guidance that enable axons to navigate from t...
  • Ayla Humphrey Dr Ayla Humphrey
    As a Lead Psychologist (Children's Division, CPFT) & Affiliated Lecturer in Developmental Psychiatry, I am interested in developing clinical services for children & families. Recent service initiatives include: co-founder of first UK holistic neur...
  • Dr Phil Jones
    We are investigating how normal stem cells transform into cancer cells in a range of sytems, both by studying stem and progenitor cell fate and also by investigating the role of a specific cell fate regulators. Our focus has been on Hes6, which r...
  • Napoleon  Katsos Dr Napoleon Katsos
    I am interested in how developmental research can inform theoretical linguistic inquiry and vice versa. My particular focus is in the area of semantics and pragmatics, and in language learning by monolingual and bilingual children as well as child...
  • Barry Keverne Professor Barry Keverne
    Professor Keverne has long standing experience in behavioural neuroscience and has, in the past 10 years, brought molecular genetic techniques to focus on brain development and investigate how genetic perturbations of the brain influence brain fun...
  • Roger Keynes Professor Roger Keynes
    Growth cone repulsion is an important mechanism controlling axon growth. During development it guides axons by excluding them from repulsive regions of the embryo. Following injury to the adult brain it may also block axon regeneration, with major...
  • Matthias Landgraf Dr Matthias Landgraf
    Development of neural networks - from the morphogenesis of dendritic trees to patterns of connections. As neuronal circuits form, synaptic terminals are delivered to specific regions of the nervous system so that connections can form between appr...
  • Rick Livesey Dr Rick Livesey
    During embryonic development, all of the neurons in the cerebral cortex, the executive and integrative centre of the mammalian brain, are generated from a complex population of multipotent stem and progenitor cells. We have developed methods for r...
  • Dr Eric Miska
    We are interested in all aspects of gene regulation by regulatory RNA. Current research themes include: miRNA biology and pathology, miRNA mechanism, piRNA biology and the germline, endo-siRNAs in epigenetic inheritance and evironmental conditioni...
  • Emad Moeendarbary Dr Emad Moeendarbary
    I am a mechanical engineer by training with a strong interest in the experimental and ‎theoretical/computational study of biological systems. Presently, I am working at the ‎interface of engineering and neuroscience to study mechanics of neurons ...
  • Joseph Murray Dr Joseph Murray
    I research the development of conduct problems, crime and violence through the life course. I have investigated the childhood origins of antisocial behaviour in several large, longitudinal studies in Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland and the U...
  • Graham Murray Dr Graham Murray
    My research investigates the brain basis of particular neuropsychiatric symptoms - namely delusions, hallucinations and anhedonia. It's already known that brain systems involving the neurotransmitter dopamine are disturbed in psychotic illnesses s...
  • John O'Brien Dr John O'Brien CBiol FSB
    Working on the application of improving biolistic delivery of getting DNA or fluorescent dyes into live cells. Biolistic transfection is proving an increasingly popular method of incorporating DNA or dyes into cells that are difficult to transfect...
  • Stephen O'Rahilly Professor Stephen O'Rahilly FRS FMedSci
    My research has been concerned with the elucidation of the basic causes of obesity and Type 2 diabetes at a molecular level and the translation of those discoveries into improved diagnosis and therapy for patients. My work has uncovered several p...
  • Ole Paulsen Professor Ole Paulsen
    The primary interest of my group is the relationship between network oscillations and synaptic plasticity. Network oscillations naturally organise spike timing conducive to spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), a strong candidate for a mechani...
  • Roger Pedersen Professor Roger Pedersen
    Our principal objective is to define the molecular and genetic basis for the maintenance of the pluripotent status of human embryonic stem cells, and similarly, the basis for their differentiation into the primary body lineages: mesoderm, endoderm...
  • Anna Philpott Dr Anna Philpott
    Our laboratory is interested in understanding the coordination of cell proliferation with cell fate determination and differentiation in development, stem cells and reprogramming, focusing particularly on the nervous system (as well as in endocri...
  • John Rogers Dr John Rogers
    Approaches to gene therapy to promote axon regeneration. Specifically: expression of enzymes which can destroy axon-inhibitory proteoglycans, and the use of viral vectors which can express them in injured neurons.
  • Ben Simons Professor Ben Simons
    I am interested in applying methods of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and population dynamics to lineage tracing studies to investigate mechanisms of stem cell fate in development and maintenance. As well as neurogenesis in adult mammalian ...
  • Timothy So Timothy So Reg Psychol (Occ), MSc, BSsc (Hon.)
    Timothy's research interest includes the science and application of wellbeing and positive psychology, i.e. the measures, correlates, cross-cultures perspective of wellbeing, and its application on policy, business and education. His research on ...
  • Denes Szucs Dr Denes Szucs
    Szucs is a cognitive neuroscientist doing research on the representaiton of mathematics in the brain and on perceptual/motor integration and conflict detection/resolution. He is using behavioral methods, electro-physiology (EEG) and functional mag...
  • David Tannahill Dr David Tannahill
    I have worked on a range of model systems from Xenopus and zebrafish to chicks and mice. My current research is focused on building an atlas that describes where and when large numbers of genes are expressed in the developing mouse embryo. For thi...
  • Professor Robert Tasker
    1. Multicenter clinical studies: In the USA I am a co-investigator and Executive Committee member for the recently funded NIH ‘Multiple Medical Therapies for Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury – A Comparative Effectiveness Approach’ that will recrui...
  • Marco Tripodi Marco Tripodi
    One of the major tasks that the nervous system faces is that of linking perception to action. We perceive the world around us through our senses and we use this information to select the most appropriate set of actions. My lab studies the organiza...
  • Dr Octavian Voiculescu
    Main interest in the principles of building and shaping the central nervous system in higher vertebrates, and the relationship between morphogenesis and patterning of embryo.
  • Sam  Wass Dr Sam Wass
    I research the development of attention during infancy. My research is in two strands: - developing new gaze-contingent paradigms to train endogenous attentional control during infancy. This includes research with typical and atypical populations...
  • Joyce Whittington Dr Joyce Whittington
    Early research on specific learning disabilities - dyslexia - and associated cognitve deficits. For the last 10 years research has focussed on various prevalence, cognitive and behavioural aspects of Prader-Willi syndrome. Most of the latter is d...
  • Chao Zhao Dr Chao Zhao
    My research focuses on mechanism of remyelination of central nervous system following demyelination in various conditions. After demyelinating injury, the system activates a repair process, which involves oligodendrocyte progenitor cells turning i...