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UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

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Our research group comprises Post-Doctoral Fellows, Lab Technicians, PhD Candidates and Visiting Students.

Principal Investigator

Brownstone 2019

Professor Rob Brownstone

Professor Brownstone’s research program is built around the philosophy that while motor system disease phenomenology can be defined in people (his clinical practice), mechanisms must be studied in animal models in order to develop better treatment strategies. To this end, his lab has developed preparations and methodologies to study neural circuits in the mouse brain stem and spinal cord and their role(s) in motor behaviours. The lab uses a variety of tools to study circuits: from the study of biophysical properties in reduced preparations to the study of animal behaviour in targeted knock-out mice. They have identified a number of key circuits, including neural circuits underlying hand grasp function.

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Professor Rob Brownstone

Post Doctoral Researchers

 

Dr Isabel Glover

UCL IRIS Profile

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Dr Isabel Glover

fnascimento

Dr Filipe Nascimento

UCL IRIS Profile

I completed a degree in Biochemistry at the Faculty of Sciences from the University of Porto which was followed by a Masters in Neurosciences at the Faculty of Medicine from the University of Lisbon. I then pursued a PhD at the University of St Andrews under the supervision of Prof Gareth Miles, where I studied the cellular mechanisms of intraspinal cholinergic interneurons involved in the modulation of locomotor output. After that, I moved to University College London to work with Prof Marco Beato on the study of synaptopathies in recurrent spinal circuits in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In 2021 I started a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, hosted by the Brownstone Lab and in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen.

My current work focuses on understanding the time-course of changes in well-defined spinal microcircuits in ALS, by using a variety of different techniques, such as in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, transcriptomics and behavioural assays. The insights from this ongoing study may have important translational implications, such as 1) establishing early detection criterion that could help to define effective therapeutic windows and 2) the time-course of alterations in spinal microcircuits can be used as biomarkers to define, stratify and monitor studies aimed at assessing the efficiency of new drugs in both animal models and in human clinical trials.

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Dr Filipe Nascimento

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Dr Gorkem Ozyurt

UCL IRIS Profile

Following the Erasmus training in Magdeburg, Germany about the intracellular signaling pathways involved in neuronal differentiation and completion of my BSc at Bioengineering Department about the development of a 3D co-culture model of the blood-brain barrier in vitro, I moved to Koç University for my Ph.D. research (2014-2019).

My Ph.D. focused on human experiments to investigate the spinal recurrent inhibitory network, modulation of H-reflex in spinal cord injury, and corticospinal inputs on motoneurons using various tools including transcranial magnetic stimulation, peripheral nerve stimulation, whole-body vibration, and intramuscular EMG recordings. We optimised a technique to investigate the properties of Renshaw cells in healthy participants and patients with ALS using stimulus-evoked alterations in motor unit discharge properties. Besides, I was involved in a project where we aimed to compare the clinical electrophysiological tool to estimate the number of motor units in the muscle, to the actual count of motor axons in the mixed nerve in the ALS model of SOD1 G93A rats.

In the Beato & Brownstone Labs, I investigate the recurrent excitatory and inhibitory pathways using various in vitro preparations and CTb labelling. I am also involved in a project to explore the changes in spinal inhibitory networks in ALS mouse models. Moreover, I aim to understand the predictive inhibitory inputs that modulate the sensory prediction error fed to motor circuits by spinal comparator neurons, such as dI3 interneurons, as a Royal Society Newton International Fellow.

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Dr Gorkem Ozyurt

 

Dr Amanda Pocratsky

UCL IRIS Profile

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Dr Amanda Pocratsky
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Dr Ammar Natalwala

UCL IRIS Profile

I joined the Brownstone lab in February 2021 as a NIHR clinical lecturer in Neurosurgery. Prior to this, I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship and completed a stem cell research PhD at the University of Edinburgh. My work focussed on molecular mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s disease (PD). The PhD aim was to investigate two disease states of alpha-synuclein that confer the greatest clinical severity in familial PD. Alpha-synuclein is small protein that misfolds to cause Lewy deposits, the hallmark of PD. I developed both in vitro, pluripotent stem cell-derived, and in vivo, stereotaxic injection-based, models of PD to yield new insight into alpha-synuclein-mediated pathology.

My current work will focus on investigating neural circuit-specific deficits in dystonia, another debilitating movement disorder. I am interested in quantitative behavioural assessment of dystonic movement as well as anatomical and electrophysiological techniques to explore pathology in neuronal networks that culminate in abnormal motor function. I will complete my neurosurgical training at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and aim to subspecialise in functional neurosurgery. I am particularly interested in translating my work into clinical practice using deep brain stimulation, cell and gene therapy approaches to advance treatments for movement disorders that are currently deemed to be incurable.

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Dr Ammar Natalwala

 

 

 

Research Assistants and Lab Technicians

Kim Dhillon, Research Assistant

 

Support Staff

Alice Winters, PA to Prof Rob Brownstone. Tel: 02031089649

Brownstone Lab Alumni

Post-Doctoral Fellows supervised:

 

Year

Name

Current Position

2016 - 2021Ayisha ShabbirPostdoctoral Researcher, University College London

2017-2018

Hiroshi Nakagawa

Assistant Professor, Osaka University

2015-2017

Kosmas Deligkaris

Research Computing Technician II, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

2014-2018

Jeremy Chopek

Assistant Professor, University of Manitoba

2013-2016

Nicolas Stifani

 

2012-2014

Xiaolu Sun

Research Associate, UCLA

2011-2012

Sabrina Tazerart

Post-doctoral fellow, Université de Montréal

2008-2016

Izabela Panek

Health Administration

2007-2013

Pratip Mitra

Associate Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

2007-2011

Frederic Bretzner

Associate Professor, University of Laval

2006-2013

Tuan Bui

Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa

2004-2006

Evgueni Blagovechtchenski

Senior Research Fellow, Higher School of Economics, Moscow

2003-2006

Gareth Miles

Professor, University of St. Andrews

2002-2008

Jennifer Wilson

 

2001-2003

Zongming Li

Research Associate, University of Alberta

Students supervised:

Year

Name

Current Position

2015-2021

Anna Hands

Academy of Medical Sciences