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Colin J Akerman

Professor of Neuroscience

  • Group Leader, Department of Pharmacology
  • Corange Fellow and Tutor in Medicine, Corpus Christi College

I lead a neuroscience research group within the Department of Pharmacology at Oxford University. Our work is focused on understanding general principles by which synaptic connections in the brain are formed and are altered by activity-dependent processes. This is a fundamental challenge if we are to understand how the brain is organised and how it can change in response to information received from the environment. As well as probing these basic mechanisms, the aim is to contribute to a more complete description of how synaptic circuits become altered in conditions such as epilepsy and dementia.

In order to study synapse formation and synaptic plasticity, our research combines advanced optical methods, electrophysiological recordings, molecular-genetic techniques and computational approaches. We apply these to a variety of experimental questions in vivo, in vitro and in silico. This often requires us to build and customize our own equipment, write software for the acquisition and analysis of data and develop new molecular tools for observing and manipulating neuronal activity. This integrative approach enables us to address novel biological questions, to make significant contributions in the field, and to offer a rich training environment for scientists. Please take a look at our publications to get a sense of what we are working on.

The research group began in 2008 and is now made up of approximately 10 scientists, roughly half of whom are postdoctoral scientists, and half of whom are PhD students. I have been very lucky to have worked with some excellent young scientists in the group and I am delighted that many of them have moved on to set up their own research groups in Toronto, Edinburgh, Cape Town, Oxford and London.

In addition to my role as a group leader, I am also a University Lecturer and Medical Tutor at Corpus Christi College.