Center for Neurogeneration
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Latest News

13 April 2015
Lyons Lab: Brain Activity Regulates Myelination

In a manuscript published in Nature Neuroscience ( the Lyons group have shown that neuronal activity regulates myelin sheath production in the central nervous system (CNS). Using zebrafish as a model organism to visualise and manipulate myelination in vivo, the group have shown that disruption to synaptic vesicle release causes oligodendrocytes (the myelin producing glia of the CNS) to generate about 40% fewer myelin sheaths than normal. Intriguingly and encouragingly increasing neuronal activity promotes oligodendrocytes to generate about 40% more sheaths than normal. Future studies will reveal the underlying mechanisms and determine whether neuronal activity could be regulated for the promotion of myelin repair and treatment of diseases such as multiple sclerosis.


2 March 2015
Roslin: Three Year Studentship funded by Alzheimer's Research UK

Neuroinflammation accompanies the progression of neurodegeneration and cognitive impairments in dementia and recent genetics studies have uncovered variants in neuroimmune genes, including loss-of-function TREM2 mutations, that increase risk of dementia. The mechanisms underlying these genetic associations and a potential causative role for TREM2-regulated processes and more broadly neuroinflammation remain to be established. This project will determine the impact of TREM2 deficiency on neuroimmune regulation, cognitive function and key pathological features of dementia in a mouse model of vascular cognitive impairment induced by chronic cerebral hypoperfusion.

Microglia are the key immune sentinels and effectors in the central nervous system and therefore exert a major influence on the neuroinflammatory environment. Numerous regulatory mechanisms prevent inappropriate or excessive microglial and neuroinflammatory activity but if disrupted this may increase the risk of neurodegeneration. TREM2 is a member of the triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells (TREM) family of cell surface proteins and highly expressed on microglia. Recent evidence suggests TREM2 is an important regulator of microglial activity and the neuroinflammatory environment. The importance of TREM2 to dementia and neurodegeneration is highlighted by recent discoveries of TREM2 mutations that cause or increase risk of several neurodegenerative disease including dementia.
Increasing evidence supports the involvement of vascular mechanisms to dementia and age-related cognitive decline. Cerebrovascular dysfunction is a feature of Alzheimer’s disease and cerebral hypoperfusion is now recognised as an important contributor to cognitive decline and is associated with microvascular damage in the brain. The mechanisms connecting hypoperfusion, cerebrovascular dysfunction and cognitive decline/dementia are not well understood. Given that hypoperfusion and associated hypoxia, microvascular damage and endothelial dysfunction are all important inflammatory triggers, inflammation is a plausible candidate. Our recent work has shown that chronic cerebral hypoperfusion casues marked alterations in microglia associated with white matter pathology and cognitive impairments.

Aims and plans
The overriding aims of the project are to:
1. Define the temporal cellular and molecular neuroinflammatory profile, with a focus on TREM expression, in response to chronic cerebral hypoperfusion
2. Determine the impact of TREM2 deficiency on neuroinflammatory profile, key markers of white matter, neuronal and synaptic pathology and cognitive performance in response to chronic cerebral hypoperfusion
The project will involve a range of techniques including an in vivo model of chronic cerebral hypoperfusion, behavioural assessment of cognitive function, flow cytometric immunophenotyping, histology and biochemical analyses. The student will receive training in these project-specific techniques as well as high resolution microscopy, image analysis and general laboratory, analytical and presentation skills. The student will be encouraged to attend scientific meetings during the project.

Funding, environment and eligibility
The studentship is fully funded for 3y by Alzheimer’s Research UK.
The project will be supervised by Dr Barry McColl (The Roslin Institute) and Prof Karen Horsburgh (Centre for Neuroregeneration) within the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.
Candidates will have a 1st class or 2:1 degree in a relevant biomedical science.

Closing date for applications is 20th March 2015. Informal enquiries to Dr Barry McColl are welcomed (

15 February 2015
New CNR Director

Congratulations to Prof Catherina Becker, who has been appointed new Director of CNR.

15 February 2015
New Doctoral Programme to be led by Prof. Karen Horsburgh

New doctoral programme to investigate how lifestyle factors impact blood flow in the brain Led by Prof Karen Horsburgh at the University of Edinburgh, four Scottish universities are aiming to jointly study how diet, exercise and other factors affect the amount of blood that reaches brain tissue and how that may affect memory - reduction in blood flow can impair memory and is one of the known early changes in Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The project is funded by the Alzheimer's Society and will establish a new doctoral training centre for PhD students across the four universities: Edinburgh, Aberdeen, St. Andrews and Dundee. "This is the single biggest funding commitment that has been made to support early-career dementia researchers in the UK." STV News 05/02/2015

12 January 2015
BNA Festival of Neuroscience 12-15 April 2015

We are delighted to be a Partner Society to the British Neuroscience Association Festival of Neuroscience 2015! This event will have 10 plenary and public lectures by world-class neuroscientists, including two Nobel laureates, 50 symposia and over 240 speakers.

More information can be found at

07 January 2015
Welcome to Dr. Leah Herrgen

Welcome to  Dr. Leah Herrgen our new Chancellor’s Fellow who joins us from the Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford. Leah's recent paper in Developmental Cell has been featured in a Perspective article in the journal Science.

15 December 2014
BBSRC ALERT 2014 Award

Catherina Becker, David Lyons (both CNR) and Liz Patton (MRC HGU) have received a £520,000 major equipment grant from BBSRC through the Advanced Life Sciences Research Technology initiative (ALERT14) to establish an automated phenotypic (drug and genetic) screening platform for the UK zebrafish community. The initiative is co-funded by further support (£100,000) from Biogen Idec and the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

15 December 2014
DFG Fellowship to Dr Daniel Wehner

Congratulations to Daniel Wehner, who was awarded a highly competitive research fellowship from the German Research Foundation DFG. Daniel, who recently joined CNR from Ulm, Germany, will investigate the role of the wnt signalling pathway in successful spinal cord regeneration in the zebrafish in the Becker Group.

15 December 2014
EMBO Fellowship to Dr Marcos Cardozo

Congratulations to Marcos Cardozo, who was awarded a prestigious EMBO Long Term Fellowship to work in the Becker laboratory. Marcos, who recently joined CNR from Madrid, Spain, will investigate the role of dopamine during spinal cord development and regeneration in the zebrafish.

1 September 2014
MRC Grant for Super-Resolution Imaging to Brophy Lab

The Brophy lab has been awarded £765,438 from the Medical Research Council to study how the node of Ranvier is assembled.
The node is a crucial structure in the nervous system that is absolutely necessary for fast conduction of impulses in our nerves and which is disrupted in demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis. The study will use state of the art microscopy in collaboration with the new Edinburgh Super Resolution Imaging Centre.

28 August 2014
Becker Group awarded BBSRC Grant

The Becker group have been awarded a £480k grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to investigate the regeneration of dopaminergic cells in the zebrafish brain. Adult zebrafish have an amazing capacity to repair injuries to their brain and spinal cord. In particular, there are so-called progenitor cells in the brain that can divide and thus generate new nerve cells. In mammals, including humans, such regeneration usually fails. Nerve cells that produce the chemical dopamine, an important modulator of brain activity, are particularly vulnerable to influences of toxins, aging and disease, such as Parkinson's disease which leads to life-long disability. The Becker group will determine whether dopamine producing nerve cells are regenerated in the adult zebrafish and whether this repairs leads to recovery of lost functions. This will help them determine at a fundamental level how it is possible to replace lost nerve cells in the adult and fully wired nervous system. 

28 August 2014
Muscular Dystrophy Campaign grant success

Congratulations to Prof. Tom Gillingwater from the CIP and Prof. Catherina Becker from the CNR who have been awarded a 2 year project grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.

Working with mouse and zebrafish models of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) will allow to understand the molecular basis of why some motor neurons are particularly vulnerable in the disease, whereas others are resistant to the disease.
This will hopefully lead to the identification of pathways that can act as novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of SMA and related neurodegenerative conditions.

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign supports excellent research projects, aiming to find treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular conditions.

31 July 2014
Karolina Mysiak wins Poster Prize

Karolina Mysiak has won the $500 Poster Prize for her poster: Serotonin promotes motor neuron development and adult regeneration in zebrafish
at the "Development, Functions and Disorders of the Nervous System" Joint Meeting of the 20th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience and the 5th Annual NeuroDevNet Brain Development Conference in Montreal, Canada.

We are very proud!

29 July 2014
Dr. Dirk Sieger, Congratulations!

Dr Dirk Sieger has been awarded a highly competitive Cancer Research UK Career Establishment Award. These prestigious awards offer up to 6 years of funding for early career PIs to establish their own line of research. Dr Sieger and his team will study the interaction of brain specific immune cells, known as microglia, and brain tumours. With a special focus on glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain tumour, they aim to understand how microglia are controlled within the tumour environment and intend to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms. Congratulations!


23 July 2014
Grant success for the Becker group

The Becker group was awarded a £600k project grant from the BBSRC to investigate the role of the descending dopaminergic projection in spinal development and regeneration in the zebrafish. This is a collaboration with Prof Keith Sillar at the University of St. Andrews. Congratulations!

23 July 2014
Bridie Nelson is fundraising to support Lyons Lab

Bridie Nelson decided to write a fundraising poetry book when her son was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 24. Bridie is helping to raise money for research projects that will, in the future, benefit many of those with this and other neurological conditions. Together with her son chose to support Dr David Lyons and his team at the Centre for Neuroregeneration, who are doing such valuable research into myelin repair. Bridie's collection of short poems will suit every mood and all profits made from the sale of this book will be donated to Lyons Lab.

Together we can help to make this happen.'Whispers of the Soul' by Bridie Nelson can be bought on Amazon here.


21 March 2014
Dr. Michell Reimer
, Congratulations!

Dr. Michell Reimer has been offered a junior group leader position with tenure track at the CRTD / DFG-Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden - Cluster of Excellence, TU Dresden Germany. The Becker lab is sad to see Michell leave but very happy that he managed to secure this excellent position to set up his own research group and wishes him all the best and success for the future.


21 March 2014
Dr. HongYan Zhang and Dr. Dirk Sieger, Awarded from the Royal Society Research Grant

Dr HongYan Zhang and Dr Dirk Sieger have been given awards from the Royal Society Research Grant. Dr. Zhang has been awarded £14,416, this grant will allow acquiring equipment to enable fine dissections on the spinal cord and perform visually guided patch recordings on identified neurons. Dr. Sieger received £13,000 grant, this will go towards obtaining specialized equipment needed to establish a zebrafish model to study microglia glioma interactions in vivo.


20 March 2014
Congratulations to the CNR PhD Student winners at Neuroscience Day 2014

We are honored to announce that the Centre has won 4 of the 7 poster prizes at the Neuroscience Day 2014: Yujie Yang (Becker Lab) and Sigrid Mensch (Lyons Lab), as runners up; Rafael Almeida (Lyons Lab), as winner of the Development and Regeneration theme; and Melissa Cizeron (Grant Lab), as winner of the Cellular and Molecular theme and overall best poster winner. Congratulations everyone!


14 February 2014
Congratulations to fundraising couple

A couple pledge their civil partnership gifts to our Centre for Neuroregeneration to support research into neurodegenerative diseases. Paul Knott and Robert Smith's generosity is in memory of Paul's mother, Bobbie, who had multiple sclerosis. Anyone can donate via the Justgiving page


08 January 2014
Dr. David Lyons awarded Senior Research Fellowship

Dave Lyons of the Centre for Neuroregeneration has been awarded a highly competitive Senior Research Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust. Dave will be developing his very successful programme on myelination with a strong emphasis on live imaging and forward genetics in the zebrafish.



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