Who is and who was here

Vincenzo De Paola

Vincenzo is from Naples, Italy. He received his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology in 2003 from the University of Basel, Switzerland, for his examination of pre-synaptic terminal dynamics in the hippocampus, done under the supervision of Dr Pico Caroni at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, part of the Novartis Foundation. He was awarded an EMBO postdoctoral fellowship in 2004 to train with Dr Karel Svoboda at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, USA, to work on the plasticity of cortical connections using in vivo multiphoton microscopy. In 2008, Vincenzo was appointed Honourary Group Head of the Neuroplasticity and Disease Group (renamed the Synaptic Plasticity and Repair Group in 2016) at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre and Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London.  In 2014, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor).  His team studies the mechanisms of synaptic and axonal reorganization in the brain relevant to ageing and neuropsychiatric diseases by using a combination of in vivo optical imaging and molecular genetic, behavioural and computational analyses, the results of which have been published in high-impact peer review journals.  Vincenzo is on the editorial boards of Sciencematters, Frontiers in Cellular Biochemistry, Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience and Neural Plasticity. Outside the laboratory, Vincenzo enjoys his family, sports (especially swimming, rowing, tennis, skiing, and, of course, football), messing around in the kitchen, visual arts (such as cinema and photography), travelling and listening to all kinds of music.

Vincenzo De Paola

Group Head / Principle Investigator

Interview – CSCeye, 2008
ORCID | Curriculum vitae

Oshiorenoya Agabi

Osh is from Lagos, Nigeria. He received his MSc in Physics from Umea University, Sweden, for his work in the lab of Professor Henry Baltes at the ETH in Zürich, Switzerland on the post processing of CMOS multi-electrode arrays (MEAs) for biological compatibility with shifted electrode design, making it possible to realise different geometries for defined neural networks in vitro. He tested the liquid state machine hypothesis on cultured MEAs to verify the separation and approximation properties, and later extended MEAs to support multiculture systems and surface functionalisations for contractile cells. Osh is currently a PhD student at Imperial College London in the Neural Coding Laboratory of  Simon Schultz, and in 2013 he joined the Neuroplasticity and Disease Group (renamed the Synaptic Plasticity and Repair Group in 2016) as a visiting PhD student to work on in vivo imaging of experience-dependent synaptic plasticity. His research focus is on neural microcircuits, specifically, how concepts such as memories, information content, processing and coding strategies can be unambiguously tied to micro/macro structural charges.  Osh is founder and CEO of Koniku®, an award-winning biotechnology company, established in 2013, specialising in neuron electronic interfacing.  Outside the lab, Osh is an avid footballer and snowboarder, and is probably too passionate about jazz.

Oshiorenoya Agabi

Visiting PhD Student

Cher Bass

Cher received her BSc in Neuroscience from the University of Bristol in 2013 and then worked with Dr Roman Shusterman at the University of Haifa on the electrophysiological properties of neurons in the olfactory bulb. Cher has a keen interest in using interdisciplinary approaches to applying computational methods to the study of synaptic connectivity in the brain. In October 2014, Cher joined the Neuroplasticity and Disease Group (renamed the Synaptic Plasticity and Repair Group in 2016) on a 4-year EPSRC-funded Neurotechnology Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) PhD studentship to study high-throughput visualization and computational consequences of increased synaptic plasticity and axon regeneration in the living aged brain.  This studentship is in collaboration with Claudia Clopath and Anil Anthony Bharath in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London. In her spare time, Cher enjoys martial arts, dancing, computer games, strategy board games, computer animations and travelling.

Cher Bass

PhD Student

Shabana Khan

Shabana received her BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Sciences from University College London (UCL) in 2010, specialising in the Neurosciences and Developmental Biology. Her undergraduate research project, with Professor John Parnavelas, focussed on the cellular mechanisms of interneuron migration in the developing cortex. She completed her MSc in Clinical Neurosciences in 2011 at the UCL Institute of Neurology (ION), graduating with Distinction. During this time, she worked in Professor Dame Linda Partridge’s group at the UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing, in collaboration with Professor John Hardy’s group at the ION, on modelling mutations in parkinsonian disorders using the Drosphila melanogaster fly model. Shabana completed her PhD in Developmental Neurobiology in 2016 at the Francis Crick Institute in London in Dr Siew-Lan Ang’s group, where she studied the molecular heterogeneity of midbrain dopamine neurons. Shabana’s work uncovered the role of the NeuroD family of bHLH transcription factors in the survival of a novel subset of midbrain dopaminergic neurons projecting to the lateral septum. She joined the Synaptic Plasticity and Repair Group in June 2017 on a 3 year MRC postdoctoral fellowship to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating cortical synaptic circuit regeneration in response to injury and neurodegenerative disease. Outside of the lab, Shabana enjoys travelling, swimming, photography, reading fiction and creating SciArt.

Shabana Khan

Postdoctoral Fellow

Raquel Real

Raquel is from Porto, Portugal. She received her MD in 2005 from the University of Porto and then continued her medical education in the Neurology Residency Programme at Centro Hospitalar de São João (Porto), which she completed in 2012. In 2013, Raquel was admitted to the Graduate Programme in Areas of Basic and Applied Biology (GABBA) at the University of Porto, and in December 2014 she joined the Neuroplasticity and Disease Group (renamed the Synaptic Plasticity and Repair Group in 2016) as a PhD student, supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) to investigate the molecular mechanisms of axon and synaptic remodelling in the context of brain injury. Outside the lab, Raquel enjoys photography, cinema, music and discovering London.

Raquel Real

PhD Student

Maria Tortora

Maria is from Milan, Italy. She received her BSc in Biological Science from the University of Milan, whereafter she held an internship in neurobiology in the lab of Professor Andrea Nistri, at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, Italy, investigating and then publishing work on how nicotinic acetylcholine receptor activation can support cell survival by contrasting glutamate mediated excitotoxicity in hypoglossal motoneurons. Maria returned to the University of Milan to do her MSc in Neuroscience, which she completed in 2016, and then worked at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan to study astroglial impairment in Rett syndrome, before joining the Synaptic Plasticity and Repair Group in July 2017 on a 3 year Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) PhD Scholarship to work on a new in vivo model of axon pathology in human tau mutants. In her spare time, Maria enjoys cooking for friends, reading and travelling.

Maria Tortora

PhD Student


Oshiorenoya Agabi
PhD Student, Bioengineering (Simon Schultz, Imperial College London)
Working on in vivo imaging of experience-dependent synaptic plasticity

Valentina Ferretti
Postdoctoral Fellow (in collaboration with Bill Wisden, Imperial College London)
Working on noradrenaline effects on synaptic plasticity and behaviour

Support Staff

Dulcie Rodrigues
Administrative Assistant

Postdoctoral Fellows

Katerina-Smaragda Papadopoulou
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014 – 2016
Research Associate, University College London Huntington’s Disease Centre, London, United Kingdom

Graham Little
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011 – 2013
Partner, Perrett Laver, London, United Kingdom

Lieven Huang
MRC Career Development Fellow, 2009 – 2012
Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian Regnerative Institute (ARMI), Monash University, Melbourne
Working on neuroregeneration

Alison Canty
MRC Career Development Fellow, 2008 – 2010
Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, University of Tasmania, Australia

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows

Jiří Růžička
Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow from The Czech Academy of Sciences, 2017

Ilse Pienaar
Junior Research Fellow, 2014
Working on opto- and pharmaco-genetic stimulation of cholinergic pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) neurons in a Parkinson’s model

Michele Ettorre
Visiting CooperInt Program Fellow, 2013
Research Scientist, GSK

Dawn Thompson
Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011 – 2012
Postdoctoral Fellow, The William Harvey Research Institute, London, United Kingdom

Jo Jackson
Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010 – 2011
Research Scientist, Eli Lilly, working on in vivo imaging of synapses in Alzheimer’s disease models

Valentina Ferretti
Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, 2009
Postdoctoral Fellow, Bill Wisden’s group, Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Postgraduate Students

Carla Pernaci
MSc Erasmus+ Student Intern, 2018
PhD Student, Smita Saxena’s group, University of Bern, Switzerland

Lucien West
PhD Student, 2012 – 2016
Advanced Imaging Specialist, Nikon Instruments UK

Peter Bloomfield
PhD Student, 2011 – 2015
Postdoctoral Fellow, Bill Richardson’s group, University College London, United Kingdom

Federico Grillo
PhD Student, 2009 – 2013
Postdoctoral Fellow, Juan Burrone’s group, King’s College London, United Kingdom
Working on axon initial segment plasticity

Visiting Postgraduate Students

Joanna Dopp
Imperial College London Network Centre Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) Grant Student, 2017
Research technician at VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research, Belgium

Tomaso Muzzu
PhD Student, Bioengineering (Simon Schultz, Imperial College London), 2012
Working on awake behavior and synaptic imaging

Undergraduate Students

Hewa Khalilifar
BSc Neuroscience, Imperial College London

Maksim Lavrov
Imperial College London Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Student, 2017

Martyna Rakowska
BBSRC Research Experience Placements (REP) Student, 2017
Neuroscience degree, University of Edinburgh

Godwin Tong
BDIAP Scholarship Student,  2016
Medical Student, University of Birmingham

Magda Robacha
PhD Student, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Catherine Wrench
Imperial College London Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Student, 2014

Sara Camporesi
EU Studentship Intern, 2012
Medical Student

Federica Perrone
PhD Student, KU Leuven, Belgium

Cornelia Roibu
MRC-funded Student, 2012
MBiochem degree, Oxford University

Cyrus Darawulla
MRC-funded Student, 2011
Medical Student, University of Cambridge

Christina Nesarajah
MRC-funded Student,  2011
Medical Student, Imperial College London

Leonor Ruivo
2010 – 2011
PhD Student, Jack Mellor’s group, Centre for Synaptic Plasticity, University of Bristol, United Kingdom

Julia Hines
MRC-funded Student, 2010
Medical Student, Oxford University

Jana Kalz
EU Studentship Intern, 2010
Biology degree, Berlin University

Akin Nihat
MRC-funded Student, 2010
Clinical Research Fellow, MRC Prion Unit

Caroline Copland
Lecturer in Neuropharmacology, St George’s, University of London, United Kingdom

Melanie Strauss
EU Studentship Intern, 2009
Medical Student, Paris Descartes University (Paris V), France

Support Staff

Lydia Lawson
Administrative Assistant, 2011 – 2015

Hamlata Dechwand
Research Assistant, 2008 – 2010

Tathiana Santana
Administrative Assistant, 2008 – 2010

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