UCL Division of Biosciences

Dr Vilaiwan Fernandes

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.