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Biological Sciences

Dr Ksenia Kurbatskaya PhD

Senior Research Fellow in Neurodegeneration

Dr Ksenia Kurbatskaya's photo

Dr Ksenia Kurbatskaya joined Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton in November 2016 as a Research Fellow in Neurodegeneration (on a pilot grant funded by Rosetrees Trust) and has since extended her contract from August 2017 to 2020 as Senior Research Fellow (funded by Alzheimer’s Society). Her research focuses on uncovering the early mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease in live human models, including brain tissue slices from surgical patients and Alzheimer’s patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells.

Career history

2016-current: Research Fellow in Neurodegeneration. University of Southampton, UK. <br/ >2015-2016: Scientific Editor. Oxbridge Proofreading, UK.

Academic qualifications

2012-2015: PhD Neuroscience. King’s College London, UK.
2008-2012: BSc (Hons) Pharmacology. University of Glasgow, UK.






Research interests

I am to develop a novel in vitro human model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) using live brain tissue obtained from neurosurgical patients, with their consent. By applying methods widely used in mouse studies to this tissue, including the brain slice technique, I can keep it alive and intact in the lab and use pharmacological treatments to trigger and study early disease processes, as well as test potential neuroprotective compounds. Calcium homeostasis and calcium-activated pathways are shown to be dysregulated early in AD. The aberrant activation of calpain, a protease with over a 100 cellular substrates, including synaptic proteins and the disease-relevant protein tau, is a consistent and key early feature in animal models and in post-mortem AD brain. I aim to confirm that calpain is rapidly abnormally upregulated in live human brain slices under acute disease conditions and uncover the downstream molecular mechanisms of calpain that may ultimately lead to neurodegeneration as disease progresses in patients. This work will translate calpain as a promising drug target with efficacy in human tissue and hopefully directly lead to development and clinical testing of novel anti-calpain drugs for early treatment in AD. Moreover, this study will the first to promote live human brain tissue as a tractable AD model that may become more widespread, replace animal use and improve clinical relevance of AD research.  

Research group


Affiliate research groups

Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS), SoNG

Research project(s)

1234 - Dormant


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Alzheiemer’s Society Research Fellowship 
MSc Research project supervision

We are collaborating with the company AbbVie for the Fellow’s project.

Dr Ksenia Kurbatskaya
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 85/4041

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