Sussex Neuroscience

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Molecular neuroscience examines the structure, function, and development of the nervous system with methods in biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics. Key topics in molecular neuroscience include studies of ion channels, receptors and enzymes and the molecular basis of development and signalling. Cellular neuroscience investigates the physiological properties of single neurons using techniques such as electrophysiology, pharmacology and imaging, as well as molecular biology. These two levels of analysis go hand-in-hand.

The cellular and molecular investigation of the nervous system is a key strength at Sussex. We are internationally recognized for our work in the following areas: the cellular basis of sensation, especially hearing and vision; synaptic transmission and plasticity; the molecular basis of learning and memory; neurophysiology of addictive behaviours; RNA regulation in development of the nervous system, and the molecular basis of neurodegenerative diseases.  To find out more about these and other areas of cellular and molecular neuroscience look at the work of the groups below.  Several of these laboratories will soon be brought together in a new Centre for Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience.

Lab websites

Professor Claudio Alonso - The Alonso lab investigates the molecular mechanisms controlling gene function during neural development with a focus on RNA control.

Professor Jonathan Bacon - Development of neural circuits underlying insect escape behaviour. Pheromone signalling coordinating ant foraging.

Professor Tom Baden - How do visual systems sample and process behaviorally meaningful input, and how can the underlying neuronal networks adapt to changing sensory demands?

Professor Paul Benjamin - We aim to understand the adaptive role of temporary lapses of recall in memory consolidation.

Professor Keith Caldecott - Neurodegenerative disease and the DNA damage response.

Professor Sarah Guthrie - The mechanisms of axon guidance. Prof Guthrie has recently joined us from King's College London (lab page here).

Professor Majid Hafesparast - My lab investigates the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms of motor neuron disease.

Dr Catherine Hall - How does the brain balance its energy supply with demand?

Professor George Kemenes - Analysis of evolutionarily conserved cellular and molecular mechanisms of memory function and dysfunction in defined neural circuits?.

Dr Ildiko Kemenes - I am interested in the behavioural and physiological processes underlying memory formation and especially what happens during lapses in memory.

Dr Sarah King - We use genetic manipulation to probe neurobiological mechanisms underlying behaviour.

Dr Sergei Korneev - We investigate the role of noncoding RNA’s in nitric oxide-dependent physiological and pathophysiological processes in the brain.

Dr Eisuke Koya - How do neuronal ensembles mediate learned associations about food and food-associated stimuli in the prefrontal cortex?

Professor Corne Kros - Function and development of auditory hair cells: preventing drug-induced deafness and the role of spontaneous activity in the development of the auditory system.

Professor Leon Lagnado, FMedSci - How do synapses in the retina and cortex contribute to the processing of visual information?

Professor Mike Land, FRS - Evolution of optical systems and visual behaviour in animals. Human eye movements and the representation of space.

Dr Ruth Murrell-Lagnado - Ion channels: their cell biology, structure and function

Dr Andrew Penn  - Our lab is interested in understanding how genetic changes in glutamate receptors influence excitatory synaptic transmission in health and disease and affect glutamate receptors as therapeutic targets.

Dr Ilse Pienaar - Mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases affecting older adults. 

Professor Miguel Maravall - How do neurons cooperate to extract information and meaning from sensory stimuli that vary over time?

Professor Jeremy Niven - I’m interested in how neural circuits in animal brains have evolved in relation to behavior that they generate and the energy they consume.

Professor Mick O'Shea - What do simple neuronal networks tell us about how the human brain acquires, processes, stores and uses information?

Professor Guy Richardson, FRS - Molecular and cellular basis of hearing with an emphasis on the mechanisms of hereditary and drug-induced deafness.

Professor Louise Serpell- We study how protein misfolding leads to the neuro- degeneration seen in Alzheimer’s disease and related amyloid diseases.

Professor Kevin Staras - We look at synapses – signaling points between brain cells – investigating how they normally work and also change during learning or disease.

Focus on

Milena Wagner

Milena Wagner (PhD student) 

‘During my BSc in Biomedical Science at London’s Royal Holloway University, I read some papers on the workings of the presynaptic terminal of neurons and became completely hooked on the complexity of these tiny molecular machines; I realized that exploring the pathology of neurological disease at this level was the way in which I wanted to make my personal contribution to medicine. My ambition to begin working within the synaptic transmission field at an international level was realised when I obtained a PhD studentship in Kevin Staras' lab at Sussex, in an exciting collaboration with Louise Serpell to examine the mechanisms of neuronal signalling in Alzheimer’s. I have found Sussex to be a great place for both academic and personal growth, with a highly positive and inclusive atmosphere where I feel I can talk to everyone. I’m now one of the postgraduate representatives for the new Sussex Neuroscience initiative.’