UCL Division of Biosciences


Dr Vilaiwan Fernandes

Sir Henry Dale Research Fellow

Cell & Developmental Biology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2018

Research summary

   Our brains are composed of two main cell-types, neurons and glia. Neurons, the electrically excitable cells that process information, have been studied intensely but glia were thought of as support cells and often ignored. Recent work has shown that glia play essential roles in instructing brain development. Their dysfunction may therefore underlie or exacerbate many brain pathologies, underscoring the need to understand their normal roles.  

   We are generously funded jointly by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society to determine, at the cellular and molecular level, how glia regulate neural development. Conservation of biological processes enables us to investigate this question in the fruit fly, where we can make use of modern genetic and molecular techniques to ask how signals from glia regulate neuronal production, how glia can be reprogrammed into neurons and how different types of glia differ in their functions during brain development. 


Education and Training

2015-2018 | Postdoctoral Fellow, New York University, USA   

2010-2014 | PhD, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University, Canada

2006-2009 | Research Apprentice, NIGMS Center for Cell Dynamics, University of Washington, USA

2002-2006 | BSc, Biology (Minor in Mathematics), University of Victoria, Canada


Prizes and Awards

2018 | Wellcome-Beit Prize, UK 

2018 | SCDB Young Investigator Award, USA

2018 | Wellcome Trust & Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Research Fellowship, UK       

2017 | Banting-CIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship, USA     

2015 | NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship, USA  

2015 | President's thesis medal, Canada         

2010 | NSERC Doctoral Scholarship, Canada