UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Tammaryn Lashley

What colleagues said about Tammaryn: Genuinely a great person, open about her path to her current position which has not been easy.

Overview of current position and main responsibilities   

I have recently been promoted to Professor of Neuroscience in the department of Neurodegenerative disease and have taken up the position as Director of Research at Queen Square Brain Bank for Neurological Disorders. I am also just finishing my Alzheimer’s Research UK senior fellowship investigating the role of astrocytes in Frontotemporal dementia. My main responsibilities are to support my amazing post-doctoral research team, all of whom have their own research projects that they are driving. We work as a team to drive projects forward, to discover things about the human brain that we previously didn’t know. As a team we also support many PhD and MSc students. I am also one of three departmental graduate tutors, who support each other to support the PhD students in the department.

What was your career path to this position and subject area?   

I have worked at the Institute of Neurology for over twenty years and did not even dream that I would be promoted to Professor, when I started as a research technician back in 1999. I started working as a research technician on a one-year contract under the supervision of Prof Tamas Revesz. I had previously gained laboratory experience at the National Institute of Medical Research, but never had the opportunity to undertake a PhD because my undergraduate grades weren’t the best. However, I was given the opportunity after 4 months at ION, to investigate the BRI2 gene related dementias. I undertook my PhD part-time whilst running the routine histology for Queen Square Brain Bank (QSBB) and having two children. Things were hectic, I had to be organised because I could only work 9-5pm as I had to get home for the children. We also juggled weekends with setting up my husband’s architectural business, my PhD and the children. Sleep is definitely overrated!

I passed my PhD, which was followed by two post-doctoral positions both still based at QSBB, plus another daughter! This is when I hit the crossed roads, apply for a fellowship to stay in science or potentially leave science. I had to give it ago to obtain my own funding, it was a struggle because I had to get out there and make collaborations, give talks and present myself and my ideas. This was not my comfort zone, it still isn’t but you have to learn to do things that don’t come naturally. It paid off and I was awarded both junior and senior fellowships from Alzheimer’s Research UK. During this time I was also successful in obtaining PhD studentships, project grants and equipment grants, to grow my team and investigate my ideas. Then in July I was promoted to Professor of Neuroscience. I never set out with a defined career path, I am happy in the lab and still set aside a few days a week to run experiments that I have trained to do.

Do you feel you have a good work/life balance? Why?

Don’t let my children answer this question! I have a work/family balance. I wouldn’t say I have a work/life balance. I work or I am there for my husband, children and family. I just don’t have time for myself and I probably wouldn’t know what to do if I did have spare time. The children do many sporting activities, so I am often sat poolside with my laptop or manuscripts. I wouldn’t have it any other way, it works for me and my family.

Who has inspired your career?

I wouldn’t say that anybody has necessarily inspired my career, but I would say that Prof Tamas Revesz has given me the confidence to believe in myself. He has been my PhD supervisor and my mentor, and it is his continuing guidance that I am truly honoured to have. I have also been supported by so many other people at ION that the list would be too long to include here. Every interaction with collaborators, post-docs, students and technicians has shaped who I am today.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Believe in yourself… you are good enough and you can do it. Find those people that give you support and energy. You are never going to be able to work with everybody in life, so pick those that make your day enjoyable and your productivity will increase. Be kind to yourself, things don’t always work first time and there is always more than one way from the start to the finish.

What is the best thing about working at IoN?

Tricky one to answer because I would answer it differently 20 years ago to how I would answer it now. In 1999 I would say the chips in the café! In 2020 I would say my team, I have the best team that support each other. We all have different strengths and weaknesses but I couldn’t think of another group of people I would rather work with.