Dr René Frank
- Position: Group Leader and University Academic Fellow in Structural Neuroscience
- Areas of expertise: Cryo-electron tomography; Neuroscience; Mouse genetics; Learning and memory; Alzheimer's disease; Neurodegeneration; Synapse biology; Glutamate receptor; Cryo-electron micoscopy
- Email: R.Frank@leeds.ac.uk
- Location: 6.41d Garstang
- Website: Group Website
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 Biochemistr, University of Cambridge; 1997-2000; B.Sc. Biochemistry, Imperial College, London.
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.
Conny Leistner (PhD student)
Megan Lovatt (PhD student)
Madeleine Gilbert (MBiol student)
Affiliations at Leeds
Research groups and institutes
- Structural Biology
- Heredity, Development and Disease