UCL Division of Biosciences

Prof Marco Beato

Prof Marco Beato

Professor of Neuroscience

Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Mar 2002

Research summary

My current research is focussed on the characterization of premotor interneurons in the ventral horn of the spinal cord. Premotor networks are involved in all motor circuits and are responsible for the coordination of locomotor activity and for the execution and tuning of all motor tasks.

My main aim is to describe the properties of the network of premotor interneurons in relation to their function and to characterize individual synaptic connections.

In the past I have studied the kinetic of glycine receptors using single channel recordings and fast concentration jumps techniques, combined with mathematical modeling and kinetic analysis. Now I am using electrophysiological recordings to record from multiple cells and from synaptically connected interneuron-motoneuron pairs in slices or in the en-bloc spinal cord.

In collaboration with Professors Andrew Todd and David Maxwell (University of Glasgow) we have characterized glycinergic premotor interneurons and measured the strength of Renshaw cells synapses onto motoneurons. We will now use a rabies based trans-synaptic tracer to label networks of flexor and extensor related premotor interneurons and to drive the expression of channelrhodopsin. Our aim is to determine a map of functional connectivity and to relate it to the electrophysiological and neurochemical profiles of premotor interneurons.

Quantal analysis methods and kinetic modeling are used to characterize the properties of synapses.

My work is funded by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, by the Leverhulme Trust and by a BBSRC project grant (joint with the University of Glasgow).

Teaching summary

I regularly give lectures and tutorials on several courses within the Pharmacology and Neuroscience degree programmes, including modules PHAR0002, PHAR0009, PHAR0018, ANAT0018 and NEUR00t. I organize and assist in the preparation of 6 practical modules. I am currently the general tutor for second year neuroscience students and I hold interviews for students transferring from the Biosciences degree to Neuroscience


Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati di Trieste
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1999
Universita degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Diploma di Laurea | 1994


I graduated in 1995 with a degree in theoretical physics from the University “La Sapienza” in Rome. I obtained a PhD in Biophysics from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA/ISAS, Trieste-Italy) in 1999. I started my post-doctoral work at the School of Pharmacy in the lab of Dr Lucia Sivilotti and moved to UCL in 2001 with a MRC Training Research Fellowship. In 2005 I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Career Development Award and a Royal Society University Research Fellowship for continuing my studies on glycinergic transmission in the spinal cord.

I have been appointed as Reader in 2013 and full professor of neuroscience in 2019