Dr Thomas Wishart

Group Leader


Current Position

2017-Present: Reader in Molecular Anatomy, The Roslin Institute, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian, EH25 9RG, Scotland, UK

tel: 44 (0)131 651 9119; e-mail: T.M.Wishart@ed.ac.uk


Previous Experience

2016-2017; Group Leader, Division of Neurobiology, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh

2011 – 2016; Career Track Fellow, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh

2010; Visiting Research Fellow, Marc R. Freeman Laboratory, Department of Neurobiology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Massachusetts

2008 – 2011; Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research & Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh

2005 – 2008; Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh



Co-Head - Translational Biomarker Discovery - Centre for Dementia Prevention (2015)

PI - Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Reasearch (2012)

Gene Champion - “Neurodegenerative Processes of Ageing and Disease” (nPAD) MRC mouse consortium.

MBA. (part-time evening class 2009-2012). University of Edinburgh (2012).

Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University Edinburgh (2005). College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine  (CMVM) scholarship.

BSc. (Hons, 1st) in Biological Sciences specialising in Molecular Microbiology from Heriot-Watt University (2002).


2009 Master of Business Administration, University of Edinburgh College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (CMVM) scholarship

2002 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (CMVM) scholarship

1998 Bachelor of Science, Heriot-Watt University

Research summary

Elucidating the mechanisms underpinning neuronal development, stability and degeneration in health and disease.

Current research interests

Research Summary: Research in the Wishart laboratory is aimed at understanding the cellular and molecular processes which underpin the development and stability of the nervous system in health and disease, with a more specific focus on the biology of the neuron. It is accepted that the neuron can be compartmentalized (grossly speaking) with respect to both form and function into three units: the cell body (or soma and associated dendrites), the axon and the synapse. It is also known that stability of the axon and synapse can be affected independently of one another. Synapses are of special interest to us as it is becoming increasingly accepted that they are a primary pathological target in a number of neurodegenerative conditions, including but by no means limited to; Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and motor neuron diseases. That is to say, synapses go first and the rest of the neuron follows. As age increases the susceptibility to many of these neurodegenerative conditions, the ever increasing life expectancy of current society means that the costs associated with neurodegenerative diseases are only going to escalate over the coming years. It is therefore critical that we develop a clearer understanding of the mechanisms which underpin healthy development and stability of synapses and the regulators of altered synaptic/neuronal vulnerability.In order to address these points we combine anatomical knowledge with high resolution imaging and biochemical/molecular biological techniques in vivo and in vitro to identify the key players and tease apart the mechanisms involved in these processes. For further information please go to:http://www.roslin.ed.ac.uk/tom-wishart/summary-of-research/Research studentsWe currently have two PhD students in the Wishart Laboratory full time:Maica Llavero (Second Supervisor - Prof. Tom Gillingwater) is currently funded by the Darwin Trust of Edinburgh to carry out research into the molecular processes taking place in synaptic compartments during the process of ageing and disease.Laura Graham (Second Supervisor - Dr Paul Skehel) is currently funded on a BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme studentship out of the EastBioDTP Scheme to carry out research relating to the role of mitochondria in maintaining synaptic stability.Other PhD students for which T.Wishart has a supervisory role for include but are not limited to:Ines Amorim (Prof. Tom Gillingwater Primary Supervisor)Kirsty Ireland (Dr. Rona Barron Primary Supervisor)Andrew Castle (Dr. Andrew Gill Primary Supervisor)Collaborative ActivityThe Wishart laboratory is a member of the Division of Neurobiology in The Roslin Institute, and as such we benefit from regular interaction with members of a vibrant and varied research community.We are also extremely fortunate to collaborate with world-class researchers who are experts in their respective fields. These collaborations serve to increase both the scope and the quality of our research.Collaborators Giusy Pennetta - Senior lecturer UOE Tara Spires Jones - Reader and Chancellors Fellow, UOE Jon Cooper - Prof. of Neuropathology, Kings college London Simon Parson - Prof. of Anatomy, Univ of Aberdeen Peter Hoenstein - Group Leader, The Roslin Institute and Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM) Mike Cousin - Professor of Neuronal Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh. Marc Freeman - Associate Professor, UMass Medical School. Tom Gillingwater - Professor of Neuroanatomy, University of Edinburgh. Douglas Lamont – “Fingerprints” Proteomics Facility Manager, University of Dundee. Jenny Morton – Professor, University of Cambridge. Paul Skehel - Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh. Synapses, the junctions between neurons (nerve cells), are affected in many neurodegenerative diseases. Historically, most therapeutic interventions have focused on late-stage events within the neuron as a whole, and have been ineffective. In many neurodegenerative conditions, including the motor neuron disease SMA, the synapses show alterations long before the rest of the neuron. Understanding these changes might provide clues to identify important therapeutic targets. We are trying to systematically unravel these synapse specific changes in a range of neurodegenerative conditions. We use state-of-the-art mass screening technologies combined with bioinformatic approaches to identify potential markers of early degeneration and future therapeutic targets. In a recent interview with Select Science Tom Wishart describes his groups interest in understanding the factors involved in neurodegenerative disease progression and some of the tools and techniques they use in the lab. http://www.selectscience.net/SelectScience-TV/Videos/Quantitative-Fluorescent-Western-Blotting-for-Protein-Analysis-in-Neurodegenerative-Diseases-/?videoID=2304&utm_source=interviewee&utm_medium=video&utm_campaign=roslininstitute What makes synapses vulnerable? Using Batten disease as a tool to find out. The brain is a very complex organ. It contains billions of cells called neurons. Neurons form a very tight network of connections. When this network is disrupted it can cause a wide range of different diseases. In Batten disease, synapses (communication points between nerve cells/neurons) begin to break down early in disease progression. The reasons why synapses are so vulnerable is unknown. Our laboratory is trying to work out what mechanisms govern the vulnerability of synapses and could therefore be important in regulating disease progression in a broad range of neurodegenerative conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Parkinson's and motor neurone diseases. Download Infantile Batten Disease: A Synaptic Study For more information on Batten disease please refer to the Batten Disease Support and Research Association