With over 180 group leaders and 500 research staff, our research is focused on two of the key challenges for 21st century neuroscience: How does the human brain develop and function across the lifespan, and how can it be protected and repaired?
Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh
Neuroscience research at Edinburgh University is carried out across a series of centres and colleges in an integrated interdisciplinary research community.
There are over 500 fundamental and clinical researchers focussing on the development and function of the nervous system throughout life, from prenatal stage to old age in both health and disease including developmental disorders. This involves a broad-spectrum approach, including, but not limited to, fundamental biomedical research, psychology, informatics and clinical research.
Research is strategically organised around a number of research centres, including interdisciplinary centres, often philanthropically-funded, that bring together researchers, patients and social scientists to study conditions across the life course.
Key areas of expertise
In vivo circuit physiology
Expertise in combinations of virtual reality based behavioural assays, in vivo and ex vivo electrophysiology, two-photon calcium imaging, optogenetics, molecular and classical neuroanatomical methods, plus computational modelling.
Diverse animal models
Edinburgh offers a wide range of disease models including invertebrates (e.g. C elegans work in Parkinson’s), rodents (including a large number of rat autism models), and large animal with the specialised Large Animal Research and Imaging Facility at the Roslin Institute.
Our researchers are committed to the principals of the 3Rs and so, where possible, they develop and use experimental approaches that Replace, Reduce or Refine animal use. When animals are used, this is in line with strict UK government regulations.
Edinburgh’s expertise in clinical trials design, management and delivery is world class and supported by dedicated Edinburgh Clinical Trials Unit which provides comprehensive facilities spanning trial planning, delivery and reporting, as well as research into improving the quality and efficiency of clinical trials. The facilities and expertise to provide infrastructure to design, plan and deliver clinical research studies across a varied portfolio of clinical specialities and methodologies.
Edinburgh Neuroscience’s integrated ‘discovery to delivery’ approach is underpinned by a rich collection of phenotyped, clinical patient cohorts with associated biological data (e.g. brain imaging, DNA sequencing, stem cells and pathology samples). Together these provide a unique resource for health informatics and data science discovery.
Key areas of research
Development and Early Life
Researchers are particularly interested in better understanding Neurodevelopment including conditions such as Autism, Epilepsy, Intellectual Disability and Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
The research is focused on the mechanisms that underly normal functions, and conditions that can arise, throughout the life course. These include psychiatric disorders, cognition, learning and memory, movement, pain, sleep and cancers.
Ageing and Degeneration
Research explores the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underpin cell and tissue differentiation, resilience to injury, and repair processes. This includes healthy cognition in ageing, dementias (including Alzheimer’s and small vessel disease), spinal injury, multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, brain vascular injury and stroke.
Facilities at the University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh is host to an extensive range of facilities, equipment and expertise which can be accessed by companies and organisations for in-house projects. Find out how to access the facilities, equipment and expertise at the University, or to discuss a particular project in greater depth.
Click to explore facilities available at the University of Edinburgh for Neuroscience
- High-throughput Phenotypic Screening
Integrating the latest advances in induced pluripotent stem cell technology, high content screening, plate handling robotics, barcode sample tracking and multiparametric analysis, we have established a state-of-the-art human-based drug discovery platform for neuroscience.
- UK Zebrafish Screening Facility
Automated chemical and genetic in vivo screening of zebrafish. Includes an automated zebrafish embryo handling system which, combined with state-of-the-art imaging, enables rapid in vivo chemical screening, with follow up at the sub-cellular level.
Read about our current projects and success stories
SpeakUnique rebuilds voices of people who lose theirs
The University of Edinburgh spinout digitally rebuilds the voices of people with conditions that affect speech such as motor neurone disease (MND), stroke, cancer of the throat or tongue and cerebral palsy.
Prof Spires-Jones and CogRx collaboration
Prof Tara Spires-Jones and CogRx work together on research collaboration projects to understand the brain and develop life changing treatments for dementia.
Use of an existing drug on a new group of patients
A multinational healthcare company partnered with the University of Edinburgh for a clinical trial which demonstrated the benefit of using an existing drug on a new group of patients to improve their health outcomes.
Treatment for multiple sclerosis
The University of Edinburgh and a large multinational healthcare company are part of a collaboration which aims to develop a treatment for progressive Multiple Sclerosis.