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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology




Dr. Gabriele Kaminski Schierle is head of the Molecular Neuroscience Group, co-director of the Cambridge Infinitus Research Institute (CIRCE), and director of the new Cambridge MPhil in Biotechnology. Gabi studied Biology at the Université de Fribourg, Switzerland and did her Ph.D. in Medicine on Neural Transplantation in Parkinson's disease at Lund University, Sweden. She has since set-up a centre in the application of modern biophysical methods for the study of mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Amberley Stephens joined the group in 2014 while finishing her Ph.D. in molecular microbiology at the University of Nottingham. The main topic of her research is studying α-synuclein under different environmental conditions and how these affect the interaction with divalent cations and synaptic vesicles, leading us to investigate potential mechanisms for α-synuclein switching from a physiological function to pathological aggregation.
received his PhD at the University of Cambridge where he studied synthetic biology and cell engineering. He joined the Molecular Neuroscience Group in 2016. The main topic of Meng’s research is applying super-resolution imaging, maining SIM, to investigat Dr. Meng Lu received his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge where he studied synthetic biology and cell engineering. He joined the Molecular Neuroscience Group in 2016. The main topic of Meng’s research is applying super-resolution imaging, mainly SIM, to investigate the dynamics of intracellular macromolecules, such as protein aggregates, and interaction of organelles.
Dr. Ana Fernandez Villegas joined in the group in 2017. She studied Chemistry and she did her PhD in immunology on tropical disease at the University of Granada (Spain).  In the molecular neuroscience group, she looks at the aggregation of α-synuclein and

Dr. Ana Fernandez Villegas joined the group in 2017. She studied Chemistry and she did her Ph.D. in immunology on tropical diseases at the University of Granada (Spain).  In the molecular neuroscience group, she looks at the aggregation of α-synuclein and underlying mechanisms. The main focus of her work it to elucidate the role of α-synuclein using primary dopaminergic neurons.

Dr. Stanislaw Makarchuk joined the group in 2019. He studied Biophysics and did his Ph.D. in cancer cell mechanics at the University of Strasbourg (France). In the molecular neuroscience group, he studies localisations of alpha-synuclein proteins in the synapse by using super-resolution microscopy techniques.

Dr. Bismoy Mazumder joined as a post-doc for CIRCE project in 2019 after finishing his PhD in Cell and Molecular biology from University of Nottingham. The main research area of Bismoy’s project in Cambridge is to analyse the biological activity of natural compounds. The major focus of the project is to understand the molecular regulators of protein homeostasis in cells to provide potential strategies for the treatment of liver diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and brain development.

Miranda Robbins is a Sensor CDT Ph.D. student with a background in Molecular Biology and Neuroscience. With MedImmune, she is investigating whether tau trafficking can be inhibited, with α particular focus on synaptic mechanisms.

Maria Zacharopoulou started in the group in 2016 as a joint Master’s student with Dr. J.J. Phillips, after finishing her Diploma in Chemical Engineering from NTUA (Athens). She is a third-year Ph.D. student, focusing on α-synuclein aggregation under different environmental conditions. She is working with Hydrogen/Deuterium-exchange Mass Spectrometry to determine how the sub-molecular structure and dynamics of monomeric α-synuclein impact aggregation.

Sara Wagner Valladolid is a Ph.D. student funded by the BBSRC doctoral training partnership program. Her research is focused on investigating the formation of aggregates in aging and neurodegeneration using fluorescence-lifetime imaging microscopy.

Chyi Wei Chung has a background in Chemical Engineering. She is currently pursuing a PhD in "live intracellular spatio-temporal temperature sensing to determine the energy flow and cost of amyloid aggregation", under Gabriele S. Kaminski Schierle and Tijmen Euser.

Ernestine Hui is a Graphene CDT PhD student with a background in Materials Science and Engineering. Her project is to develop a graphene-based brain on a chip platform to study neurodegeneration.

Past Members

Philippa Hooper did her Ph.D. working in collaboration with the Cambridge Graphene Centre. She developed devices with transparent graphene electrodes to combine electrophysiological measurements of neuronal activity with fluorescence imaging.

Jhalique Jane Fojas worked on developing an integrated microfluidic-nanosensor system for neuro-functional imaging and neurotransmission detection. This novel platform will be used to understand the pathological mechanism of common neurological diseases through protein misfolding and molecular transport studies.
Dr. Ajay Mishra joined this group in December 2016 as Head of Biology for CIRCE (Cambridge Infinitus Research Centre). His goal at CIRCE was to investigate the molecular regulation underlying cellular stress in aging and neurodegeneration.
Dr. Colin Hockings received his Ph.D. at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, studying how the Bcl-2 family of proteins regulate cell death. In the molecular neuroscience group, he examined the propagation of tau, with special attention to how glial cells are involved.
Dr. Janin Lautenschläger joined the group 2015 after finishing her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Jena University Hospital (Germany). She looked at the aggregation of α-synuclein and underlying mechanisms. The main focus of her work was to elucidate how mitochondrial dysfunction and α-synuclein aggregation are cross-linked, in primary dopaminergic neurons.
Marlene Schmidt was a master’s student of the Neuronal iPSC Group from the Philipps-University Marburg in Germany. She used advanced microscopy to address Tau-related questions in isogenic cell lines from Apolipoprotein E 4/4 (ApoE; the major genetic risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)) AD-patients.
Liliia Bahrova was doing the final semester of a MONABIPHOT masters program (Molecular nano- and bio-photonics for telecommunications and biotechnologies). She was working on revealing the role of Alpha-synuclein in the process of synaptic vesicle exocytosis with neuronal cells using expansion microscopy combined with SIM.
Dr. Nadya Nespovitaya joined the group in 2014. Initially, she was trained as a biochemist and during her PhD at ETH Zurich studying reversible functional aggregation of neuropeptides and hormones she became interested in physical chemistry and biophysics of protein aggregation. In the group, Nadya worked on mechanisms of amyloid templating by means of dSTORM and STED/AFM correlated microscopy.
Dr. Ya Zhou started in the group in December 2015 as a joint Postdoc with Prof. Gillian Bates from UCL Huntington's Disease Centre. She has a PhD in Neuroscience from King's College London. She was working on the underlying mechanism of seeding and polymerization of Huntingtin. 
Dr. Suil Collins was a Ph.D. student funded by the BBSRC doctorate training partnership program. She was working on the identification and development of small molecules capable of inhibiting the aggregation of amyloidogenic proteins, in collaboration with the groups of Prof David Spring and Dr Florian Hollfelder.
Na Yu joined the group at 2013 funded by EPSRC. Na’s Ph.D. research was focused on developing microfluidic devices to investigate protein aggregation in Alzheimer’s disease using super-resolution. Na was working with Claire on the propagation of Tau.
Dr. Kevin Feeney is a molecular biologist who uses cell models to study biological systems such as the circadian clock. He worked on the role of metals in the cell and how it functions as a link between aging, circadian timekeeping and the development of neurological diseases.
Dr. Claire Michel started in the group in 2010. She has pioneered the study of exogenous Tau propagation from cell to cell.
Genevieve Simpson started in the group in Oct 2015 as a Master's student. She has a BSc in Neuroscience and worked with fluorescent proteins to monitor the movement of tau within primary hippocampal neurons, subsequently aiming to visualise its movement across the synapse. 
Samantha Beck joined the group as a research assistant after passing her Master’s degree. She was in charge of cell cultures and interacted closely with team members to conduct biological experiments.
Kevin Batenburg joined the group as an MRes student from the University of Amsterdam. He further established a novel methodology to sense and sort single α-synuclein fibrils by nanopores and microfluidic techniques.
Dr. Dorothea Pinotsi joined the group in 2012, she is a trained physicist and works at the interface between biology and physics. She pioneered the intrinsic fluorescence on amyloid proteins and on α-synuclein strain formation.