Douglas Armstrong

Douglas Armstrong is Professor of Systems Neurobiology at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics and Deputy Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Bioinformatics.

Professor Armstrong’s lab works in the area of systems neurobiology with both informatics and wet-lab based research programmes.

Some neurons have specialised protrudions called “dendritic spines”, that receive incoming information – an example of a piece of dentrite and its spines can be seen on the left hand side of the panel. Each spine contains molecular machinery and it is the ability of this machinery to change and adapt that is the basis of our learning and memory.

Many neurological disorders, even those with symptoms recognisable in adults, have their origins in the earliest stages of life. The networks of proteins that we study are enriched with genes already linked to multi-factorial developmental disorders including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

My lab is developing and applying methods that are already helping to uncover some key relationships between these genes and proteins and may even help to provide new insights into how the diseases work. We focus on trying to understand and dissect molecular complexity in the brain. Rather than looking in detail at single genes or proteins, we study how groups of these genes and proteins come together to underpin the development, anatomy and function of the nervous system.

Much of our work focuses on the complex networks of proteins at synapses that mediate the messages between neurons. We collaborate extensively with researchers nationally and internationally and we have laboratory based work, which uses Drosophila — fruit flies — as a model system for ASD.


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