Novel mechanisms of neurogenesis and neural repair

Prof. Magdalena Gotz from Helmholz Center Munich, will be giving a talk on ‘Novel mechanisms of neurogenesis and neural repair.’

TThe talk will be hosted online at 2 pm, while at 3.30 pm we are having a virtual pub chat with the speaker. Further details on how to join both sessions will be sent through our mailing list! Please note that this virtual event will be accessible only to members of the University of Oxford. To attend the talk, please register here with an Oxford email address.


We study the mechanisms of neurogenesis utilizing some of them also for neuronal repair. I will first speak about novel players in neurogenesis during development, highlighting a novel centrosome protein (Akna, Camargo et al., Nature 2019). This work prompted us to explore centrosome composition at a comprehensive level. I will present unpublished data about human neural cells centrosome proteome highlighting the profound differences in centrosome composition compared to other cell types. I will show that this centrosome proteome unravels novel candidates for neurodevelopmental disease, especially those involved in misplacement of neurons, periventricular heterotopia. I will talk about a generally expressed protein that is only localized at the centrosome in neural cells and show data about disease modelling. From there I will proceed to present unpublished work on a new intrinsic disordered protein with profound effects on neural development acting as nuclear master regulator of liquid phase transition – regulating the size and function of several membrane-less nuclear compartments simultaneously. I will then show that this protein is also critical for direct neuronal reprogramming and up-date on the recent breakthrough in direct glia-to-neuron conversion after brain injury. I will then move on to discuss the integration of replaced neurons into the circuitry of the murine cerebral cortex, that normally does not integrate new neurons at adult stages and present unpublished data about the mechanisms regulating this integration. Taken together, our knowledge about basic mechanisms of neurogenesis allowed making great strides towards neuronal repair.


Dragons, Sleep, and the Claustrum

For our next virtual event, Lorenz Fenk from Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, will be giving a talk on Dragons, Sleep, and the Claustrum.

The talk will be hosted online at 4 pm, while at 5.30 pm we are having a virtual Q&A chat with the speaker. Further details on how to join both sessions will be sent through our mailing list!


The mammalian claustrum, by virtue of its dense interconnectivity with cortex and other brain structures, has been hypothesized to mediate functions ranging from decision making to consciousness. I will be presenting experimental evidence for the existence of a claustrum in reptiles, its role in generating brain dynamics characteristic of sleep, and discuss our neuroetholgical approach towards understanding fundamental aspects of sleep and claustrum function.

Cortex Club Elections

The Cortex Club are recruiting for next academic year! Elections will take place online via Zoom on the 7th May at 4 pm, and the new committee will be operative starting from Michaelmas 2020.

In order to participate to the elections meeting (even just for voting), please register to the Zoom link here by 7th May 12pm and you will receive a personal link to join the video meeting. Only Oxford email addresses will be enabled to participate to the zoom meeting, and the elections will happen with the in-built anonymised poll system.

See below for the open positions. These are only indicative and you can do more (or less) as long as the committee works smoothly! If interested, you would of course have a chance to host a speaker, organise an event important to you or suggest speakers!

If you are interested in running for a position, please apply by the 6th May 11:59 pm:




The positions will be elected in the order shown below. In any case, if one candidate does not get elected for one position, they can in any case run for another position.

Open positions:

· President and Vice-President (can act as co-presidents – joint candidatures accepted)
· Secretary
· Communications Officer
· Treasurer
· IT Officer
· Social Secretaries (x3)
· Undergrad Rep

For more details regarding roles and responsibilities for the positions listed above, please click here.

If you have any further questions, please email

A paradoxical kind of sleep in Drosophila melanogaster

The dynamic nature of sleep in most animals suggests distinct stages which serve different functions. Genetic sleep induction methods in animal models provide a powerful way to disambiguate these stages and functions, although behavioural methods alone are insufficient to accurately identify what kind of sleep is being engaged. In Drosophila, activation of the dorsal fan-shaped body (dFB) promotes sleep, but it remains unclear what kind of sleep this is, how the rest of the fly brain is behaving, or if any specific sleep functions are being achieved. Here, we developed a method to record calcium activity from thousands of neurons across a volume of the fly brain during dFB-induced sleep, and we compared this to the effects of a sleep-promoting drug. We found that drug-induced spontaneous sleep decreased brain activity and connectivity, whereas dFB sleep was not different from wakefulness. Paradoxically, dFB-induced sleep was found to be even deeper than drug-induced sleep. When we probed the sleeping fly brain with salient visual stimuli, we found that the activity of visually-responsive neurons was blocked by dFB activation, confirming a disconnect from the external environment. Prolonged optogenetic dFB activation nevertheless achieved a significant sleep function, by correcting visual attention defects brought on by sleep deprivation. These results suggest that dFB activation promotes a distinct form of sleep in Drosophila, where brain activity and connectivity remain similar to wakefulness, but responsiveness to external sensory stimuli is profoundly suppressed.

Details on how to join the talk and the informal Q&A will be released via our mailing list.