Dr. Leah Herrgen
We investigate the mechanisms underlying brain repair in the zebrafish.
- 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
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.
- Hannah Smith, Postdoctoral Fellow
- François Waharte, Postdoctoral Fellow
- Chiara Herzog, Research Fellow
- David Greenald, Research Technician
- Juan Larraz, Research Technician
- Sara Anna Bognar, MSc Student
- Prof. Catherina Becker, University of Edinburgh, UK
- Prof. David Lyons, University of Edinburgh, UK
- Dr Dirk Sieger, University of Edinburgh, UK
- Dr Veronique Miron, University of Edinburgh, UK
- Dr Martin Meyer, Kings College London, UK
- Dr Francesca Peri, EBML, Heidelberg, Germany
- Dr Barry McColl, The Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, UK
- Herrgen L, Akerman CJ (2016). Mapping Neurogenesis Onset in the Optic Tectum of Xenopus Laevis.Developmental Neurobiology 76, 1328-1341.
- Herrgen L, Voss OP, Akerman CJ (2014). Calcium-dependent Neuroepithelial Contractions Expel Damaged Cells from the Developing Brain. Developmental Cell 31, 599-613. Featured in Science Perspectives. Calegari F (2014). Neurodevelopment. Tossed Out to Save the Masses. Science 346, 1298-1299.
Key Earlier Publications
- Herrgen L, Ares S, Morelli LG, Schröter C, Jülicher F, Oates AC (2010). Intercellular Coupling Regulates the Period of the Segmentation Clock. Current Biology 20, 1244-1253.
- Herrgen L, Schröter C, Bajard L, Oates AC (2009). Multiple Embryo Time-Lapse Imaging of Zebrafish Development. Methods in Molecular Biology 546, 243-254.
- Morelli LG, Ares S, Herrgen L, Schröter C, Jülicher F, Oates AC (2009). Delayed Coupling Theory of Vertebrate Segmentation. Human Frontier Science Program Journal 3, 55-66.
- Schröter C, Herrgen L, Cardona A, Brouhard GJ, Feldman B, Oates AC (2008). Dynamics of Zebrafish Somitogenesis. Developmental Dynamics 237, 545-553.