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Genetic and molecular mechanisms of nervous regeneration and repair

Principal Supervisor: Dr Alicia Hidalgo, School of Biosciences

Co-supervisor: To be confirmed

PhD project title: Genetic and molecular mechanisms of nervous regeneration and repair

University of Registration: University of Birmingham

Project outline:

The project will aim to discover novel molecular mechanisms that could promote central nervous system regeneration. The focus will be on how neurons and glia interact to match their cell populations and functions, and on the regenerative potential of glial cells. We will tackle the molecular aspects using genetics, and we already have a wide range of candidate genes that can regulate these processes. The fruit-fly Drosophila will be used as a model organism, as this is the best context to address these questions with genetic approaches, in vivo, in time-lapse, with single cell and neural circuit resolution. We have previously discovered a gene network that regulates the glial regenerative response to injury and promotes glial regeneration. However, we still do not know how this glial response could promote neuronal regeneration. Our next aim is to find out molecular mechanisms that bring together glial and neuronal regeneration to promote recovery of CNS structure and function after injury, damage or disease. Ultimately, our findings will have important implications to understand regeneration and repair after spinal cord injury and brain damage, also in humans. The project will use technical approaches of Drosophila genetics, molecular biology and cell culture, microscopy and imaging, optogenetics, computational modelling and behaviour.


  • Kato K, Losada-Perez M, Hidalgo A (2017) The gene network underlying the glial regenerative response to central nervous system injury. Developmental Dynamics DOI 10.1002/dvdy.24565
  • Losada-Perez M, Harrison N, Hidalgo A. (2016) Molecular mechanism of central nervous system repair by the Drosophila NG2 homologue kon-tiki. Journal of Cell Biology 214, 587
  • Kato et al 2011 The glial regenerative response to central nervous system injury is enabled by Pros-Notch and Pros-NFkB feedback. PLoS Biology 9, e1001133

BBSRC Strategic Research Priority: Molecules, Cells and Systems

Techniques that will be undertaken during the project:

  • Drosophila genetics
  • Molecular biology and cell culture
  • Microscopy and imaging
  • Optogenetics manipulation
  • Recording of neuronal activity, computational analyses and behaviour.

Contact:  Dr Alicia Hidalgo, School of Biosciences