How does the vertebrate brain, the most complex tissue in the universe, develop from a simple sheet of cells into an organ with the unique ability of posing this question? We have set ourselves the task of understanding the secrets underlying the development of the brain. Our ability to manipulate and control these molecular and cellular processes will contribute to therapeutic approaches in health and disease of the brain, particularly in neurodevelopmental syndromes such as neural tube defects and Autism.

The field of developmental biology draws on technical and analytical skills from all major branches of biology and the molecular and biomedical sciences. Consequently developmental biologists become highly competent experimental and theoretical scientists.

Reverse molecular genetic approaches are used in combination with modern cell and gene imaging methods to understand multi-gene interactions in vivo and in real-time. Zebrafish and Xenopus animal models are used to examine the formation of the earliest axon pathways in the embryonic brain while the mouse olfactory system is investigated to query the more complex process of axon targeting during development and regeneration.

Group Head


1. We are seeking students to investigate the development of the earliest axon pathways in the brain in real time using transgenic fish with fluorescent reporters.
2. In addition we need students to investigate the role of Autism susceptibility genes in development of behaviours in zebrafish and the role of neurodevelopmental genes in neural tube defects in Xenopus.


1. In addition to the topics of the Honours projects we require students to investigate the development of axon connections in the most plastic region of the nervous system, the olfactory system.

Find out more about our research environment and how to apply to do a short or long-term research project with us.