Centre for Neuroregeneration

Prof. David Lyons

Prof. Lyons' biography and research focus, plus details of the Lyons Lab

Professor David Lyons

Professor of Neurobiology

  • The Chancellor's Building
  • 49 Little France Crescent
  • EH16 4SB

Contact details

Biographical Profile

David Lyons received his BSc (Neuroscience, 1999) and PhD (Developmental Biology, 2003) from University College London. He then undertook postdoctoral work at Stanford University in the Department of Developmental Biology with Prof. William Talbot (2004-2009). In 2009, Dr. Lyons joined the Centre for Neuroregeneration through a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship. Dr Lyons was awarded a Research Prize from the Lister Institute in 2012 and a Senior Research Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust in 2014.

Research Overview

We use zebrafish to dissect the molecular and cellular basis of nervous system development. Our current focus is on elucidating mechanisms that orchestrate the formation of myelinated axons. Myelinated axons are essential for normal nervous system development and function, and disruption of the myelin sheath and associated axons is associated with many human diseases including Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Our lab uses zebrafish for two principle reasons: their amenability for live cell imaging and high-resolution cellular analyses, and their ability to be used to carry out large-scale genetic and chemical screens.

Zebrafish embryos are transparent and undergo rapid early development (myelin is formed from just two days after egg fertilization). These facts coupled with the relative simplicity of the early nervous system and the availability of transgenic lines that drive fluorescent reporters in a variety of cell types, make the zebrafish ideal for live in vivo imaging of entire developmental processes. We are currently using these approaches to study cell behaviour and cell-cell interactions during central nervous system myelination in vivo (see Publications below).

We are currently also embarking on a new forward genetic (gene discovery screen), using a transgenic reporter of myelination, to identify the molecular basis of central nervous system (CNS) myelination by oligodendrocytes in vivo, a process about which surprising little is known. In parallel we carrying out chemical compound based screens as an additional approach to identify the molecular basis of CNS myelination, and as part of collaborative drug discovery projects (see Collaborators below).

Group Members


  • Professor Catherina and Dr. Thomas Becker (CNR, University of Edinburgh)
  • Professor Peter Brophy (CNR, University of Edinburgh)
  • Professor Jonah Chan (University of California, San Francisco)
  • Professor Abdel El Manira (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden)
  • Professor Charles ffrench Constant (CRM, University of Edinburgh)
  • Professor Robin Franklin (Cambridge University)
  • Dr. Don Mahad (CCBS, University of Edinburgh)
  • Dr. Richard Poole (University College London)
  • Professor Mikael Simons (Max Planck Institute, Goettingen)
  • Professor William Talbot (Stanford University, USA)
  • Dr. Claire Wyart (ICM, Paris)
  • Biogen (Cambridge, MA, USA)


Our work is funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Lister Institute, the European Commission, the UK Multiple Sclerosis Society, Biogen, donation made through shift.ms and studentships from Portugal's Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and the UK's Medical Research Council.

Selected Publications