Edinburgh Research Explorer

Richard Ribchester

(Former employee or visitor)

Profile photo

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

Live imaging of structure and function in motor neurones and their connections. (http://www.edneurophd.ed.ac.uk/basic-neuroscience-informatics-neurones-and-networks/live-imaging-structure-and-function-motor)

Education/Academic qualification

2005Doctor of Science, University of Edinburgh
Development and Plasticity of Neuromuscular Innervation
1977Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Newcastle University
On the involvement of the neuromuscular junction in murine muscular dystrophy
1974Bachelor of Science, Durham University

Area of Expertise

Research expertiseElectrophysiology and confocal microscopy of nerve, muscle and neuromuscular synapses



1974-77: MRC Student, Muscular Dystrophy Laboratories, Newcastle upon Tyne

1977-79: MDA Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, USA

1979-80: Wellcome Travelling European Fellow, University of Oslo, Norway

1980-2005: Lecturer then Senior Lecturer then Reader, University of Edinburgh

2007-2008: Research Leave Fellow, Royal Society of Edinburgh

2005-present: Professor of Cellular Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh


1977-2016: Over 130 Research Publications; >3200 citations; hIndex=34; i10 index=56 (source Google Scholar)

2006-2009: Founder and first Acting Director, Edinburgh Motor Neurone Disease Research Group then Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research

2015: Delsys Prize for Innovation in Electromyography





1974: BSc (Joint Hons) Chemistry & Zoology, University of Durham

1977: PhD, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

2005: DSc, University of Edinburgh

Membership of Learned Societies

Physiological Society

British Neuroscience Association

Society for Neuroscience



I teach mainly in the area of my research experience/expertise: general neuroscience but focused on the physiology, developmental biology, plasticity and pathology of excitable cells, especially motor neurones and their neuromuscular synapses.


Year 2: Biomedical Sciences 2

Year 3: Biomedical Sciences 3, Neuroscience 3

Year 4: Honours Neuroscience (Programme Manager, 2009-2013)

Honours Electives:

Neurotransmitters in Action (2014-present)

Neuromuscular Junctions in Health and Disease (2003-2013)


MSc 1:  MSc by Research Integrative Neuroscience (Programme Manager: 1994-2005)


My research in a nutshell

My main research interest is in the biology of motor neurones and their connections in skeletal muscle, especially the development, plasticity, degeneration, regeneration and pathology of neuromuscular junctions. Synapses at  neuromuscular junctions are the first components of a motor neurone to degenerate in many forms of Motor Neurone Disease (MND/ALS). We combine electrophysiological techniques and imaging to find out how this synaptic degeneration is triggered and to explore ways that it could be slowed down or completely prevented: using gene-based therapies, drugs or exercise. I also collaborate in research into mechanisms of organophosphorus toxicity at neuromuscular junctions, and in the development of microendoscopic imaging technologies intended for observation of living neuromuscular junctions that might ultimately be used to diagnose, monitor and treat the progression of MND and other neuromuscular diseases. I also have an emerging interest in the utility of the larval Drosophila (fruit-fly) neuromuscular system as a model for investigation of  neuromuscular synaptic physiology and mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease.






Collaborative Activity

Internal Collaborations:

Professor Michael Eddleston

Professor Richard Clutton

Professor Thomas Gillingwater

Dr Paul Skehel

Dr Lyndsay Murray

External Collaboration

Professor David Beeson, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford

Professor Michael Coleman, John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambrige

Professsor Gregory Lnenicka, University at Albany, USA

Research Interests

Development, physiology and plasticity of neuromuscular innervation

Visiting and Research Positions

1992 (Oct-Dec): Visiting Researcher, Department of Physiology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, USA

2007 (Oct-Dec): Visiting Researcher, MRC Mammalian Genetics unit, Harwell

2008 (Jan-Mar): Visiting Researcher, The Babraham Institute

2008 (Apr-Jul): Visiting Researcher, Children's Hospital and Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, USA

2012-2014: Visiting Researcher, Department of Biological Sciences, University at Albany, USA

Office Hours

9:30 am - 6:30 pm (email to 11:00 pm)

Research Groups

Primary Affiliation: Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems

Secondary Affiliations:

Centre for Integrative Physiology

Centre for Neuroregeneration

Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Diseaese Research

Positions available

Live imaging of structure and function in motor neurones and their connections.

Experimental and computational analysis of neuromuscular synaptic dysfunction in organophosphorus toxicity: a ‘population of models’ approach. (Pending)


Research students

PhD Students

Simon Parson  (1988-91; Ph.D. awarded, 1991)

Graeme Bryce  (1989-92; Ph.D. awarded, 1993)

Richard Mattison (1995-1998; PhD awarded, 1999)

Ellen M. Costanzo (1996-1999; PhD awarded 1999)

Thomas H. Gillingwater(1998-2001; PhD awarded 2001)

Amanda Carter-Kimpton  (1998-2001; PhD awarded 2001)

Felipe A. Court (2001-2004; PhD awarded 2004)

Thomas M. Wishart (2002-2005; PhD awarded 2005)

Li Fan (2003-2007; PhD awarded 2007)

Oyinlola O.R. Oyebode  (2005 – 2008; PhD awarded 2008)

Adrianna Teriakidis (2006-2009; PhD awarded 2010)

Rosalind Brown (2008-2011; PhD awarded 2012)

Kosala Dissanayake (2011-2014; PhD awarded 2015)

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