Personal profile


I studied Pharmacology BSc at University of Edinburgh followed by MSc by research at University of Oxford. I was a PhD student at the University of Bristol working with John Isaac studying hippocampal synaptic plasticity and stayed on for a post-doc studying developmental synaptic plasticity in the somatosensory cortex. My second post-doc was at NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA studying properties of inhibitory synaptic transmission in the hippocampus with Chris McBain. Following that I returned to Edinburgh to set up my own lab as an MRC Career Development Fellow and am now a lecturer.

My research in a nutshell

Brain cells communicate via connections called synapses. Formation of synapses during early life underlies the development of the brain circuitry required for normal behaviour, learning and memory.  A large number of genes encode molecules that are expressed specifically at synapses and genetic studies have shown that mutations in these genes cause conditions such as autism and intellectual disabilities. I study how mutations in these genes alter the function of synapses in the developing brain and how this alters the development of brain circuits.

Research Interests

Our research focusses on how synaptic function and plasticity in neonatal animals act to coordinate the development of mature cortical circuitry.


My primary teaching role is as part of the development of a new Biomedical Sciences BSc to be delivered jointly by the University of Edinburgh and Zhejiang University at a joint campus in China. This program is due to start in Autumn 2016.

In Edinburgh I run an honours elective course on the role of synapses in disease for Biomedical Sciences students and also teach on a number of other course in this program and MSc Integrative Neuroscience students. 



PhD.  Supervisors: John Isaac and Graham Collingridge

Oct 1999 – Feb 2002:         University of Bristol


MSc by research.  Supervisors: Gianmaria Maccaferri and Peter Somogyi

Oct 1998 – Sep 1999        University of Oxford 


BSc (hons) 1st class, Biological Sciences (Pharmacology)

Oct 1994 –  Jul 1998          University of Edinburgh 


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