Functional Genomics in Neuroscience

Group Leader(s): Dr Korneel Hens

Contact: khens@brookes.ac.uk +44 (0)1865 485239

About us

Our research focuses on transcriptional regulation in postmitotic neurons. We develop tools to answer biological questions in functional genomics:

  • What is the role of transcriptional regulation in the brain in maintaining nutritional homeostasis?
  • Do transcriptional networks that specify neuropeptidergic cell types regulate the function of neuropeptides in adult neurons? 
  • How does the transcriptional regulation of scavenger receptors in the brain regulate feeding behaviour?

Interaction map between neuropeptides and all fruit fly transcription factors

Research impact

Scavenger receptor genes are activated in the brain upon sugar feeding

Raising awareness
It is critical that children are made aware of the importance of a healthy diet and the effects of obesity on health. We have run activities for primary schoolchildren where they can use the fruit fly to study the effect of dietary composition on food preference. The fruit fly is an ideal model for this purpose as it allows the children to experiment hands-on and the results can be readily observed in a short time.

Basic research with applications in the pharmaceutical and agricultural sectors
Our research questions are critical for understanding how the internal state of an organism can impact on the gene regulatory programmes controlling key neuronal properties, such as which neuropetides they are expressing. Understanding these mechanisms will be important for manipulating neuropeptide expression in livestock for behavioural adjustment and humans for therapeutic reasons.

Leadership

Korneel Hens

Dr Korneel Hens

Senior Research Fellow

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