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Group Members



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 PhD 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. Janin Lautenschläger joined the group 2015 after finishing her PhD in Neuroscience at Jena University Hospital (Germany). She looks at the aggregation of α-synuclein and underlying mechanisms. The main focus of her work is to elucidate in primary dopaminergic neurons how mitochondrial dysfunction and α-synuclein aggregation are cross-linked.

Colin_Hockings Dr. Colin Hockings received his PhD 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 examines the propagation of tau, with special attention to how glial cells are involved.
Ya Zhou 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 is working on the underlying mechanism of seeding and polymerization of Huntingtin. 


Dr. Amberley Stephens joined the group in 2014 while finishing her PhD 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 effect the monomer state and aggregation of the protein. Of particular interest is the interaction of α-synuclein with divalent cations and synaptic vesicles, leading us to investigate potential mechanisms for α-synuclein switching from a physiological function to pathological aggregation.


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 underlying mechanisms.

Na_Yu Na Yu joined the group at 2013 funded by EPSRC. Na’s PhD research is focused on developing microfluidic devices to investigate protein aggregation in Alzheimer’s disease using super-resolution. Na is currently working with Claire on the propagation of Tau.
Suil_Collins Suil Collins is a PhD student funded by the BBSRC doctorate training partnership program. She is 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.
Jhalique_Jane_Fojas Jhalique Jane Fojas is a PhD student working 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.
Philippa_Hooper Philippa Hooper is a PhD student working in collaboration with the Cambridge Graphene Centre. She develops devices with transparent graphene electrodes to combine electrophysiological measurements of neuronal activity with fluorescence imaging.
Miranda_Robbins Miranda Robbins is a second year Sensor CDT PhD student with a background in Molecular Biology and Neuroscience. With MedImmune she is investigating whether tau trafficking can be inhibited, with a particular focus on synaptic mechanisms.

Maria Zacharopoulou started in the group in Oct 2016 as a joint Master’s student with Dr. J.J. Phillips, after finishing her Diploma in Chemical Engineering from NTUA (Athens). She is now a first-year PhD 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 Sara Wagner Valladolid is a PhD student funded by the BBSRC doctoral training partnership program. Her research is focused on investigating the formation of aggregates in aging anf neurodegeneration using fluorescence-lifetime imaging microscopy.

Marlene Schmidt is master’s student of the Neuronal iPSC Group from the Philipps-University Marburg in Germany. She uses 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 is from Ukraine and is currently doing the final semester of a MONABIPHOT masters program (Molecular nano- and bio-photonics for telecommunications and biotechnologies). She is working on revealing the role of Alpha-synuclein in the process of synaptic vesicle exocytosis with neuronal cells using expansion microscopy combined with SIM.


Past Members

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.
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.
Samantha Beck joined the group as a research assistant after passing her Masters degree. She was in charge of cell cultures and interacted closely with team members to conduct biological experiments.
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. 
Dr. Claire Michel started in the group in 2010. She has pioneered the study of exogenous Tau propagation from cell to cell.
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 ageing, circadian timekeeping and the development of neurological diseases.
Sina Schack is a Sensor CDT student from the 2016/17 cohort. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Lindenwood University near St. Louis. Following, she graduated with an MSc in Systems and Synthetic Biology from the University of Edinburgh. She joined the group to do her mini-project on amyloid protein strains.
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.