News

  • Unit

    Congratulations to Unit scientist Dr Huiling Tan who has been awarded a three-year New Investigator Research Grant (NIRG) by the Medical Research Council.

    The implantation of electrodes into deep brain structures is a well-established therapy for a number of neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and essential tremor. New developments in implantable devices with capacities for chronic recording and real-time data transmission are opening up new vistas on the use of nerve cell signals to control ‘Brain-Machine-Interfaces’ for increased therapeutic benefit. Huiling will exploit this research opportunity in her MRC NIRG, and develop Brain-Machine-Interface systems based on nerve cell signals (local field potentials) recorded from deep brain structures (the basal ganglia) for neuroprosthetic control and neurofeedback therapy, whilst using this novel framework to answer fundamentally important questions about how nerve cell networks operate in the human brain.

    The MRC NIRGs are highly competitive and are tailored for promising early-career researchers who are capable of becoming independent Principal Investigators and who are ready to take the next step towards that goal. Huiling will start the work on her NIRG in 2017.

    Huiling is the second Unit scientist to be awarded an MRC NIRG. In 2015, Dr John-Stuart Brittain won a NIRG to advance his research on the neuronal mechanisms of tremor in neurological disease.

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  • Unit

    We are delighted to report that the Unit’s collaboration with Neurotechnology at Imperial College London is thriving through our joint supervision of studentships at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Neurotechnology for Life and Health at Imperial College London’s Centre for Neurotechnology. This offers outstanding students a pioneering 4-year (M.Res. + Ph.D.) course at the interface of engineering and neuroscience. Current jointly supervised students are Konstantos Petkos (Imperial College London primary supervisor Professor Manos Drakakis, and MRC BNDU supervisor Professor Peter Brown; Project “ReBooT: Restoring brain operation with technology; microelectronics to enable an open source instrument for exploring closed-loop neural systems”), Thomas Martineau (Imperial College London primary supervisor Dr Ravi Vaidyanathan, and MRC BNDU supervisor Professor Peter Brown; Project “Neural implants for brain-robot interfaces”) and Giuseppe Gava (Imperial College London primary supervisor Dr Simon Schultz, and MRC BNDU supervisor Dr David Dupret; Project “Information theoretic analysis tools for studying the cellular assembly of memory”).

    Simon Schultz, Director of the Centre for Neurotechnology at Imperial College London, is currently on sabbatical in the Unit, and we are further pleased to report that funding for another jointly supervised studentship has been awarded for 2017 (Imperial College London primary supervisor Dr Ravi Vaidyanathan, and MRC BNDU supervisors Professor Peter Brown and Dr Huiling Tan; Project “A robotic instrument for the investigation of muscular rigidity in Parkinson’s patients”).

  • Unit

    We are delighted to welcome Simon Schultz to the Unit for a year of sabbatical research. Simon is currently Reader in Neurotechnology, and Director of the Centre for Neurotechnology, at Imperial College London. His sabbatical in Oxford is co-hosted by Jesus College, where he is Visiting Senior Research Fellow.

    Simon leads a joint experimental and computational neuroscience group, the Neural Coding Laboratory, and is an expert on quantitative techniques for the analysis of optical and electrophysiological neural data. He will use his time in the Unit to progress work on scalable information theoretic data analysis tools for neuroscience, as well as to advance new collaborations with several Unit Groups.

    The Unit has been an external affiliate of Imperial College London’s Centre for Neurotechnology, including the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Neurotechnology for Life and Health, since July 2015.

     
  • Unit

    We are pleased to welcome Anders Christian Meidahl to the Unit. Anders has joined Professor Peter Brown’s Group as a D.Phil. student, and will study Parkinson’s disease and its treatment.

    Anders graduated with a first-class degree in Medicine from Aarhus University, Denmark, and has since worked as a doctor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the National Hospital, University of Copenhagen. While pursuing his medical degree, Anders studied for a year at Stanford University School of Medicine, USA, under the supervision of Professor David Yeoman, where he used herpes-based gene therapy vectors to manipulate nociceptive neuron excitability after traumatic brain injury. This work won Anders the First Prize at the Danish Neurosurgical Society’s annual Research Competition. During his medical studies, Anders also received a scholarship to study the neuronal connections of the nucleus accumbens using MRI-guided retrograde tracing injections at the Center for Experimental Neuroscience, Aarhus University Hospital, and carried out a pilot Deep Brain Stimulation study to evaluate changes in neuroplasticity in areas connected to this nucleus.

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  • Unit

    Congratulations to Unit scientist Dr Stéphanie Trouche who has been awarded a prestigious two-year NARSAD Young Investigator Grant by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

    NARSAD Young Investigator Grants provide support for the most promising young scientists conducting neurobiological research. The awards are geared towards enabling investigators to extend their research training with a view to transitioning to independence and leadership roles.

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  • Unit

    We are pleased to welcome Maaike van Swieten to the Unit as an MRC-funded D.Phil. student in Professor Peter Magill’s Group.

    As part of Maaike’s M.Sc. in Neuroscience & Cognition, she completed a research internship at the University of North Carolina, USA, where she used optogenetic manipulations, neuroanatomical tracing techniques and behavioural assays to elucidate the role of lateral hypothalamic neurons in reward processing and feeding. During Maaike’s D.Phil. thesis work in the Unit, she will use similar techniques, together with electrophysiological recordings in vivo, to define the mechanisms by which basal ganglia cells and circuits support purposeful behaviours.

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  • Unit

    We are pleased to welcome Max Rothwell to the Unit. Max has joined Dr Andrew Sharott’s Group as an MRC-funded D.Phil. student, and will study closed-loop deep brain stimulation approaches for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Max has just successfully completed an M.Sci. in Neuroscience at the University of Nottingham, where his integrated research project, carried out in collaboration with Lilly UK, was focused on electrophysiological investigations of brain function.

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  • Unit

    We are delighted to welcome Naomi Berry back to the Unit as a MRC-funded D.Phil. student in the Sharott Group.

    After graduating from University College London in 2013 with a B.Sc. in Biomedical Sciences, Naomi worked in London and then in the Unit as a Research Technician, providing support for a variety of neuroscience projects. Naomi’s thesis research will be supervised by Dr Andrew Sharott, and will use a combination of electrophysiological and anatomical techniques to define the roles played by different types of motor cortical neuron in the generation of pathological oscillations in Parkinson’s disease.

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  • Unit

    We are pleased to welcome Benoit Duchet to the Unit. Benoit has joined Dr Rafal Bogacz’s Group as an MRC-funded D.Phil. student, and will study the basal ganglia and Parkinson’s disease.

    Benoit has an “engineering diploma” from Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, France, and an M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from Imperial College London. He has been working in medical imaging R&D in Paris for the past few years.

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  • Unit

    We are delighted to welcome Luke Bryden back to the Unit as a Wellcome Trust-funded D.Phil. student in the Magill Group.

    As part of Luke’s recent M.Sc. in Neuroscience studies at the University of Oxford, he completed a highly successful research project in the Unit under the supervision of Dr Emilie Syed and Professor Peter Magill. Luke’s new thesis research will be co-supervised by Dr Paul Dodson and Professor Magill, and will use an advanced combination of electrophysiology, anatomy, and optogenetics to define the roles played by midbrain dopaminergic neurons in behaviour.

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