Dr René Frank

Dr René Frank


Background: 2013-2018 Postdoctoral scientist, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge; 2011-2013 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Edinburgh; 2008-2011 Junior Research Fellow, Emmanuel College, Cambridge and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; 2006-2008 Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Research Fellow at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; 2004-2006 Postdoctoral Scientist, Dept Biochemistry, University of Cambridge; 2000-2004, PhD in Structural Biology of Multienzyme complexes, Dept Biochemistry, University of Cambridge; 1997-2000; B.Sc. Biochemistry, Imperial College, London.


  • Head of Neuroscience
  • ARUK Yorkshire Network Committee Member

Research interests

The ‘wiring’ of neuronal circuits in the brain is mediated by synapses, which are responsible for processing and storing information. We are interested in understanding the native molecular architecture of synapses with a particular focus on postsynaptic membranes that contain N-methyl D-aspartic acid receptors (NMDARs).

NMDARs mediate Ca2+-dependent signalling, acting in concert with a complex repertoire of synaptic proteins to initiate synaptogenesis and various forms of synaptic plasticity. We are using mouse genetics in combination with novel biochemical methods, fluorescence imaging, and cryo-electron tomography. This integrated approach allows us to investigate the postsynaptic membrane directly and test its molecular mechanisms in vivo.

Allied to the basic biology are key questions regarding synapses in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Particularly, what signalling mechanisms are involved in the loss of glutamatergic synapses in AD, and how these are linked to Aβ and tau pathologies? To address these questions we are using genetically engineered mice and in vivo protein labelling methods.

Group Members

Nayab Fatima (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)

Joshua Jenkins (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)

Megan Lovatt (PhD student)

Maddie Gilbert (PhD student)

Xinpeng Liu (MRes student)

Affiliations at Leeds

Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology


<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Research groups and institutes

  • Neuroscience and Behaviour
  • Structural Biology
  • Heredity, Development and Disease

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//phd.leeds.ac.uk/project/1908-seeing-inside-the-brain-of-alzheimer&rsquo;s-disease-by-cryoet">Seeing inside the brain of Alzheimer&rsquo;s disease by cryoET</a></li>