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Past Members

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 was applying super-resolution imaging, mainly SIM, to investigate the dynamics of intracellular macromolecules, such as protein aggregates, and interaction of organelles.

Naunehal Singh Matharu was a PhD student with a background in neuroscience. His research was focused on TDP-43 aggregation in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis cell models. He was also based at the Centre for Misfolding Diseases under the supervision of Prof. Tuomas Knowles.

Ernestine Hui was a Graphene CDT student with a background in Materials Science and Engineering. She completed her PhD in developing a graphene-based brain on a chip platform to study neurodegeneration.


Sagnik Middya joined the group as a Sensor CDT student and completed his Ph.D on transparent microelectrode arrays for electrophysiology and imaging in 2023.

Alexandra Grba joined the group as an MPhil by Research student in 2022-2023. Her project involved the use of Structured Illumination Microscopy (SIM) to probe the intracellular effects of Tau.

Franziska Hirsch joined the group as a visiting PhD student for a period of 10 weeks in 2023 while pursuing a PhD in the Kirstein lab located at the University of Bremen. Her project involved the use of microfluidics to study neuronal activity in C. elegans models of Alzheimer’s disease.

Chyi Wei Chung completed her Ph.D. on live intracellular spatio-temporal temperature sensing to determine the energy flow and cost of amyloid aggregation in 2022.

Dr. Amberley Stephens joined the group from 2014-2022 as a Post-Doc to study monomeric α-synuclein under different environmental conditions, in particular α-synuclein’s interaction with water, ions and synaptic vesicles, and how these interactions can affect aggregation propensity.

Maria Zacharopoulou completed her Ph.D. focusing on α-synuclein aggregation under different environmental conditions. She worked with Hydrogen/Deuterium-exchange Mass Spectrometry to determine how the sub-molecular structure and dynamics of monomeric α-synuclein impact aggregation.

Molly Davis is a masters student with the NanoDTC: she did her undergrad in Material Science and Engineering at Swansea University. Her project was working on inhibiting biofilm formation by targeting bacterial amyloids with small molecules.

Brandon Spencer Lockey studied biological natural sciences at Cambridge and did his 4th year in systems biology, where he was doing a project modelling the effect of cholesterol on Parkinson's disease using hybrid functional petri nets.


Madeleine Richer studied part III systems biology in Cambridge and was working on a project to computationally model the biological network involved in Alzheimer’s disease.

Sara Wagner Valladoid completed her Ph.D. 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.

Stas 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 studied localisations of alpha-synuclein proteins in the synapse by using super-resolution microscopy techniques and electrophysiology


Shianne Chhangur was an MPhil student with a background in Biochemistry. In the molecular neuroscience group, she applied STORM microscopy to investigate the localisations of alpha-synuclein proteins with calcium channels and SNARE complexes.


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


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.


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.

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