Centre for Biological Sciences

Research Group: Biomedical Sciences

This theme brings together a strategic commitment to Neurosciences and Developmental Biology which, as part of University-wide interdisciplinary initiatives, is addressing fundamental issues relevant to national and global priorities of health and well-being. The theme underpins biomedical research in the area of basic neuroscience and developmental biology through to neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases within the ageing process and poor health derived from in utero environmental conditions. The theme operates within the context of the Institute for Life Sciences, which drives an agenda linking research across Faculties spanning basic mechanisms to translational, clinical programmes.


Currently Active: Yes

Group Overview


The commonality of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of nervous system function across the animal phyla has become ever more evident, and neuroscience projects in the School investigate the properties of excitable tissues from nematodes, insects and mammals. Biomedical research on each of these organisms is directed towards understanding nervous system function in health and disease, and utilises information from the genome mapping of key species such as C. elegans, Drosophila and mouse.

The central themes of neuroscience research are in the areas of neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation and an integrative analysis of neural/synaptic function underpinning behavioural plasticity. Our multidisciplinary approaches allow investigations of basic mechanisms to inform novel insights into diseases associated with protein misfolding and aggregation such as Alzheimer's and disease states such as Multiple Sclerosis and addiction. Interests in the impact of the environment on neural function and in the remodelling of neurons during development and in adult disease overlaps with interests in the Developmental Biology Group.

An important aspect of all our research is that it is carried out under the umbrella of the Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG), an organisation that cuts across faculties in the University to bring together neurobiologists, clinical neuroscientists, psychologists and health care practitioners, who have a shared interest in understanding the nervous system in health and disease. Cross-disciplinary collaborations with engineers, chemists and computational neuroscientists also provide an excellent opportunity to develop and implement new tools and technologies in this fast-moving field.

Developmental Biology:

Our biomedical research concerns both basic processes in reproductive and developmental biology, notably oocyte meiotic maturation and preimplantation development, but focuses predominantly in mechanistic studies using animal models underpinning the University-wide Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) programme and related translational biomedical directions with extensive collaborations with the Faculty of Medicine.

We have rodent models to investigate effects of maternal diet and sickness on adult offspring health including facilities for epigenetic, molecular, cellular and physiological research. Our biomedical research work makes use of transgenic models with ready availability of embryonic stem cell culture and differentiation. Areas of specialism include the extracellular matrix in development and disease and in vitro models for bone development and endothelial-osteoblast cell communication.

Biomedical Sciences Principle Investigators (PI)

Dr Howard Barton: PI Biomedical Sciences
Professor John Chad: PI Neuronal signalling
Dr Claire Clarkin: PI Biomedical Sciences
Associate Professor Rob Ewing: PI in molecular interaction networks in cancer and development
Dr Diego Gomez-Nicola: PI Neuroimmunology and Neurodegeneration
Professor Lindy Holden-Dye: PI Neuropharmacology & physiology
Professor Keith Jones: PI Meiosis & cell cycle
Professor Karen Lillycrop: PI Biomedical Sciences
Associate Professor Amrit Mudher: PI Neurodegenerative diseases
Professor Phil Newland: PI Insect Neuroscience
Professor Vincent O'Connor: PI Synaptic transmission & signalling
Dr Neil Smyth: PI Extracellular matrix
Associate Professor Jessica Teeling: PI Neuroimmunology
Dr David Tumbarello: PI Membrane trafficking and cell signalling


Members of staff associated with this group:

Research projects

Research projects associated with this group:

Mammalian Neurodegeneration

The impact of systemic bacterial and viral infections on innate immune responses in the brain

Improving immunotherapy for Alzheimer’s diseases by modulating FcR interaction: an antibody engineering approach.

Role of antibody-mediated immune responses in the CNS

Mechanisms of DNA damage and repair in mature oocytes

Immune-to-brain communication in immune-mediated lung inflammation; studies of neuronal mechanisms and the impact of immunomodulators

Role of maternal diet on regulation of embryonic neural stem cells

Understanding oligodendrocyte progenitor dynamics and myelin loss in Alzheimer’s Disease

Molecular mechanisms underlying the communication between the peripheral immune system and the brain

Activity dependent control of adult neural hippocampal stem cells in 3D cell culture

EpiHealthNet: Environment during periconceptional development, due to diabetes, obesity or assisted reproductive technologies, and altered health during ageing

Circadian Developmental Requirements

An integrated approach to CNS inflammation: cooperation between antibodies and CD8 T cells

Diet and immune responses in Drosophila melanogaster

Taste coding and modulation in the locust

Neuroprotective actions of MAPKinases

mGluRs model for genes to behaviour

Modelling neural responses

Plasticity through scaffolding molecules

Neuronal information processing and network modelling

Control of adult neurogenesis during chronic neurodegeneration

Characterisation of cue-dependent behaviour in plant parasitic nematodes: the neurobiology of host plant invasion

How do preimplantation embryos sense and respond to maternal nutrition affecting fetal development and adult health

Does Wlds mediate protection in a Drosophila model of tauopathies?

Nuclear phosphoinositides and their role in the regulation of myogenic differentiation

Immunity, neurodegeneration and ageing

Effects of electric fields on animal behaviour

Plasticity of behaviour for good and bad

Protein misfolding and the neuroprotective role of molecular chaperones

Role of autophagy during polyglutamine aggregation

Reducing the Burden of intravenous drug/nutrition delivery system infections using novel anti-biofilm strategies.

Regulation of microglial proliferation during chronic neurodegeneration

Use of Drosophila Models to Explore the Function of Asthma Susceptibility Genes

Temperature entrainment of the molecular circadian clock circuits in Drosophila

Exploiting C. elegans to provide insight into neural substrates of human alcohol dependence

Investigating the interface between metabolism and neurodegeneration

Linking the immune system to the central nervous system: a role for antibodies and Fcγ receptors in neuronal damage.

Effect of mouse maternal high fat diet during preimplantation and later stages of pregnancy on offspring development and health

Causes and consequences of microglial priming in the ageing brain

OtoAcoustic Biometrics

Physiology, genetics and evolution of predictive adaptive responses in Drosophila

Inflammation in chronic neurodegeneration and the contribution of systemic inflammation

ME7 Synaptopathy model: a protein aggregation disease to model Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic neurodegeneration

Metabotropic Glutamate receptors (mGluRs) models to investigate synaptic organization


The regulation of epigenetic signalling by nuclear phosphoinositides

Control of Drosophila circadian behaviour by the RHO1-signalling pathway

The role of IgG Fc receptors in the pathogenesis of age related macular degeneration and its implications for therapeutic intervention.

Investigating the role of membranes on protein aggregation and neurotoxicity of the huntingtin protein.

Establishing the developmental function of the pectic component rhamnogalacturonan II (RGII)

Linking perturbed maternal environment during periconceptional development, due to diabetes, obesity or assisted reproductive technologies, and altered health during ageing

Postgraduate opportunities

If you are interested in joining us either to study or to become part of our research team please select the relevant link below for further information.

Funded PhD Opportunities

Current job vacancies at the University of Southampton