Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences
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Dr. Leah Herrgen

We investigate the mechanisms underlying brain repair in the zebrafish.

Dr Leah Herrgen

Principal Investigator

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

Contact details

Personal profile

  • 2015 - Present     Principal Investigator, CDBS, University of Edinburgh
  • 2009 - 2015           Postdoc, University of Oxford
  • 2008 - 2009           Postdoc, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden
  • 2004 - 2008           PhD, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden

Research Theme


Our overarching goal is to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms that enable or prevent brain repair, a fundamental unresolved challenge at the interface of neuroscience and tissue repair biology.

We are approaching this complex task by using larvae of the zebrafish, a small tropical fish that is hardy and easy to maintain and breed. Importantly, larval zebrafish are almost entirely transparent, which means that we can easily watch the cells and molecules that contribute to brain repair in real time under a microscope. Another reason for using larval zebrafish to study brain repair is their high regenerative capacity and the speed with which repair occurs: we have found that these very young zebrafish can rebuild their brain tissue within days of an injury.

We are currently focussing on two main lines of research.

1. Regulation of cell death after brain injury

We are using RNA sequencing and small molecule screening to identify genes and pathways that control how many cells die after a brain injury, with the aim of developing therapeutic strategies that can protect nerve cells.

2. Injury-induced plasticity in neural networks

We are investigating how the brain's intricate neural networks are rebuilt after an injury. To achieve this, we use in vivo imaging of the structure and function of nerve cells during injury and repair. This will help us to understand how nerve cells can support recovery in the aftermath of an injury.

Ultimately, understanding the cellular and molecular events that lead to successful brain repair in zebrafish may help us to develop novel therapeutic strategies for brain injury in humans.


Team members


Selected Publications

Key Earlier Publications