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NIMH-UCL Graduate Neuroscience Program

Kirsten Harvey & Craig Blackstone Collaboration

Title: Dysregulation of membrane trafficking in neurodegeneration

UCL supervisor: Kirsten Harvey , Molecular Neuroscience and Cell Biology, UCL School of Pharmacy
NIH supervisor: Craig Blackstone , Cell Biology Section, NINDS

Research field

Drs. Blackstone and Harvey share an interest in cell biology and signaling dysfunction in familial neurodegenerative disorders. Both laboratories use genetic animal and cell models to investigate cellular functions -- emphasizing ER, mitochondrial, microtubule and lysosomal functions. These cellular processes are all interconnected and affect autophagy, retromer function and cellular signaling including Wnt signaling.  Dr. Blackstone has a particular interest in lysosomal and ER dysfunction in hereditary spastic paraplegia whereas Professor Harvey’s current focus is on the Parkinson’s disease protein LRRK2.  Both investigators consider pathogenic alterations in cytoskeletal function and membrane trafficking to be promising therapeutic targets for disease-modifying treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

Previous collaboration

Drs. Blackstone and Harvey have collaborated since 2012, and they co-supervised a UCL School of Pharmacy-NIH PhD student (2012-2016) on a project entitled: ‘Mechanisms of ER-stress induction in genetic forms of neurodegeneration’.

Joint publications

Nixon-Abell J, Obara CJ, Weigel AV, Li D, Legant WR, Xu CS, Pasolli HA, Harvey K, Hess HF, Betzig E, Blackstone C, Lippincott-Schwartz J (2016) Increased spatiotemporal resolution reveals highly dynamic dense tubular matrices in the peripheral ER. Science 354:aaf3928.

Nixon-Abell J, Berwick DC, Grannò S, Spain VA, Blackstone C, Harvey K (2016) Protective LRRK2 R1398H Variant Enhances GTPase and Wnt Signaling Activity. Front Mol Neurosci 9:18.


Proposals in the area of membrane trafficking in neurodegenerative movement disorders are welcome. Projects focusing on ER or lysosomal function in hereditary spastic paraplegia and/or Parkinson’s disease are of particular interest.  Please contact Drs. Blackstone and Harvey via E-mail to arrange a more in-depth discussion on possible projects.

Contact details:
Kirsten Harvey:
Craig Blackstone: