Dr Hugh Pearson


Programme Leader for Neuroscience


  • Module Manager Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Module Manager Experimental Skills in Neuroscience

Research interests

The role of voltage gated ion channels in Alzheimer's disease. Understanding brain function: calcium channel subtypes and their modulation in central neurones.

Cultured granule cells

Cultured granule cells from the cerebellum being patch clamped. Spherical or ovoid cell bodies have bipolar neurite (axon or dendrite) extensions. The right hand pipette is the patch pipette and drugs are applied from the other two pipettes.

Alzheimer's disease is becoming an increasing large clinical problem as the average age of our population gets higher. An estimated 5-10% of the population over the age of 65 develop Alzheimer's disease (AD) and this figure increases even further in more elderly age groups. A hallmark of AD is the loss of neurones in the cortex and memory forming areas of the brain such as the hippocampus. We have been studying the effects of an AD-related peptide, amyloid protein (Ab) on voltage-gated ion channel currents in cultured neurones using the whole-cell patch clamp technique (see publications below). The effects on ion channel currents have also been correlated with the Ab-induced cell death. To do this we use a variety of neurotoxicity assays, some biochemical such as the MTT, TUNEL or LDH release assays, and some morphological, where we fix and stain cells and look for changes in membrane and nuclear structure. In future we also plan to use flourescent assays to monitor cell death/survival following challenge with Ab. Related to this project are studies regarding the effect of free radicals on ion channel activity and cell survival. More recently we have begun to use brain tissue from patients undergoing operations to remove tumours to study Ca2+ handling and ion channel activity in human astrocytes.

Human astrocytes

Human astrocytes grown from biopsy tissue removed from a patient with an astroglioma. Stained with antibody directed against GFAP.


Wellcome Trust
MRC - part of the MRC Neurodegeneration Co-operative group
Nuffield Foundation

Lab members

Leigh Plant, PhD Student
Magdy Omar, PhD Student
Nicola Webster, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
TBA, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Huge Pearon's lab members

Working hard in La Jolla, California with PhD students Leigh Plant and Martin Ramsden


Zaineb Henderson, School of Biomedical Sciences
Paul Kemp, School of Biomedical Sciences
Les Bridges, Neuropathology, School of Medicine
Peter Vaughan, Cardiovascular Research, School of Medicine
Chris Peers, Cardiovascular Research, School of Medicine
Paul Chumas, Neurosurgery, School of Medicine

Veronica Campbell, Trinity College, Dublin
Richard Cowburn, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

<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>


  • BSc, PhD 1990, London.

Professional memberships

  • Physiological Society

Student education

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Modulation of ion channels in Alzheimer's disease.

See also:

Academic roles:

  • UG Programme Leader - UG Neuroscience


  • Member of Undergraduate School Taught Student Education Committee