Dr Timothy O'Leary

Timothy O'Leary

University position


Dr Timothy O'Leary is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Department of Engineering

Home page


Research Themes

Systems and Computational Neuroscience

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


How do nervous systems adapt and repair themselves? How do they exhibit coherent function in spite of variable underlying properties? I study these questions using theory, computational models and experiments.

For example, it is well known that neurons have homeostatic mechanisms that control activity levels. But how does cell-level regulation affect network function? What are the limits to what homeostatic mechanisms can achieve?

Another goal is to understand variability. Cellular and circuit properties vary between individuals even when overall function is similar. This is a major problem (experimentally and theoretically) for understanding how components (e.g. genes, synaptic pathways) affect circuit function. This also raises an intriguing question: why is there variability? Do regulatory mechanisms simply tolerate some amount of 'slop', or does variability offer benefits?

I very am keen to work with experimentalists and with physical scientists who want to move into biology.

Research Focus




Neural networks

Control theory

Systems biology

Clinical conditions


Genetic disorders


Calcium imaging

Cell culture

Computational modelling

Electrophysiological recording techniques

Fluorescence microscopy



Rodolphe Sepulchre


Guillaume Drion Web: https://sites.google.com/site/gd...

Alessio Franci Web: https://sites.google.com/site/fr...

Eve Marder Web: https://blogs.brandeis.edu/marderlab/

Alex Williams Web: http://alexhwilliams.info/

Associated News Items

Key publications

O’Leary T, Williams AH, Franci A, Marder E (2014), “Cell types, network homeostasis, and pathological compensation from a biologically plausible ion channel expression model” Neuron 82(4):809-821 PDF

O’Leary T, Wyllie DJ (2011), “Neuronal homeostasis: time for a change?” The Journal of physiology 589(20):4811-26 PDF

O’Leary T, van Rossum MC, Wyllie DJ (2010), “Homeostasis of intrinsic excitability in hippocampal neurones: dynamics and mechanism of the response to chronic depolarization” The Journal of physiology 588(1):157-70 PDF



Drion G, O’Leary T, Marder E (2015), “Ion channel degeneracy enables robust and tunable neuronal firing rates” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(38):E5361-70 PDF

O’Leary T, Sutton AC, Marder E (2015), “Computational models in the age of large datasets” Current opinion in neurobiology 32:87-94 PDF


Marder E, O'Leary T, Shruti S (2014), “Neuromodulation of circuits with variable parameters: single neurons and small circuits reveal principles of state-dependent and robust neuromodulation” Annual review of neuroscience 37:329-346


O'Leary T, Williams AH, Caplan JS, Marder E (2013), “Correlations in ion channel expression emerge from homeostatic tuning rules” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(28):E2645-54 PDF

Williams AH, Calkins A, O'Leary T, Symonds R, Marder E, Dickinson PS (2013), “The neuromuscular transform of the lobster cardiac system explains the opposing effects of a neuromodulator on muscle output” The Journal of Neuroscience 33(42):16565-75.


McMahon AC, Barnett MW, O'Leary TS, Stoney PN, Collins MO, Papadia S, Choudhary JS, Komiyama NH, Grant SG, Hardingham GE, Wyllie DJ (2012), “SynGAP isoforms exert opposing effects on synaptic strength” Nature communications 3:900


Clayton EL, Sue N, Smillie KJ, O'Leary T, Bache N, Cheung G, Cole AR, Wyllie DJ, Sutherland C, Robinson PJ, Cousin MA (2010), “Dynamin I phosphorylation by GSK3 controls activity-dependent bulk endocytosis of synaptic vesicles” Nature neuroscience 13(7):845-51