The Team


Group leader

I graduated from the University of Pavia and IUSS (Pavia, Italy) with a Master’s degree in Genetics and Molecular Biology. After Uni, I relocated to the MRC Centre for Neurodegeneration Research (King’s College London, UK) where I obtained a PhD in Neuroscience. In the lab of Chris Miller, I studied axonal transport using cultures of rodent primary neurons as a model. While studying for my PhD, I felt that much was known about the regulation of neuronal transport in vitro (i.e. in cell culture). However, how neuronal trafficking is orchestrated in an in vivo system was largely unexplored. In 2012, I then decided to move to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Cambridge, UK) in the lab of Simon Bullock to study neuronal trafficking in the Drosophila nervous system. During my postdoc at the LMB, I developed a strong interest in neuronal ageing. In 2017, I was recruited to the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute (King’s College London, UK) as group leader to study the regulation of axonal transport in ageing Drosophila and in mammalian primary neurons. I am a NC3Rs David Sainsbury Fellow and a Van Geest Fellow in Dementia and Neurodegeneration.

mailto: alessio.vagnoni@kcl.ac.uk


PhD candidate

In 2015, I completed a BSc in Biomolecular Sciences and Technologies at the Centre for Integrative Biology (CIBIO – University of Trento, Italy). Here, I joined the lab of Dr Gabriella Viero at the Institute of Biophysics – CNR (Trento, Italy) where I studied the role of the Survival Motor Neuron (SMN) protein in translation and its connection to the pathogenesis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. In 2017, I graduated with a Master in Cellular and Molecular Biotechnology from the University of Trento. As an ERASMUS student, I joined the Dormann Lab at the Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität in Munich, where I worked on the characterization of TDP-43 and FUS-containing RNA granules, before moving to UCL in London. Here, under the supervision of Dr Pietro Fratta and Prof Giampietro Schiavo, I investigated the effect of an ALS-causing FUS mutant on RNA metabolism, studying its relationship with the translational machinery and with the RNA-binding-protein FMRP. I started my PhD in Alessio’s lab in February 2018. I am interested in unravelling the early responses that are activated upon interfering with mitochondrial function and transport in ageing neurons. I will address this using optogenetics and both in vitro and in vivo approaches.

mailto: francesca.mattedi@kcl.ac.uk


PhD candidate


I completed my MSci degree in Biochemistry in UCL in 2019. My Master’s project was a collaborative project between Prof Andres Ramos at the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, and Dr Yoh Isogai in the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, where I studied mRNA stabilisation and localisation mediated by the oncofetal RNA-binding protein IMP1. There, we were interested in using multiplexed smFISH techniques to better understand IMP1’s role in controlling the fates of target mRNAs. In October 2019, I started my PhD with Alessio, and I am interested in further understanding how ageing-related mitochondrial dysfunction affects intracellular trafficking and neuronal health, both in vitro and in vivo.

mailto: kristal.ng@kcl.ac.uk


PhD candidate

I graduated with an Integrated MSc (MSci) in Neuroscience from King’s College London in 2016; I conducted my BSc project in Dr Hirth’s lab (IOPPN), investigating the RAN translated Dipeptide Repeat Proteins from ALS Drosophila models containing the G4C2 hexonucleotide repeat expansion. I then joined Dr Srivastava’s lab (Maurice Wohl Basic and Clinical Neuroscience Institute) for my masters year, where I differentiated and characterized populations of IPSC derived cortical neurons. In 2017 I joined the lab of Prof Plun-Favreau at UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, where I optimised and ran high content assays on SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell lines to identify Parkinson’s Disease risk genes as modulators of PINK1-Parkin mediated mitophagy (as part of the Parkinson’s Genes Consortium – Universities of Cambridge, Reading and UCL – and in collaboration with the ARUK Drug Discovery Institute UCL).  I started the PhD in Alessio’s lab in September 2019 and, in collaboration with the lab of Dr Ferraiuolo at SITraN (University of Sheffield), I have been learning fibroblast reprogramming techniques. This will allow me to study how aging affects mitochondrial dynamics along the axon in human fibroblast-derived neurons.

mailto: emily.a.annuario@kcl.ac.uk


Postdoctoral Research Associate

In 2017, I graduated with a PhD in Biology from the University of Leipzig, Faculty of Life Sciences (Leipzig, Germany). Under the supervision of Prof Christoph Bleidorn, I investigated the potent neurotoxin glycerotoxin (GLTx), isolated from the venom of bloodworms. I provided the first GLTx full-length sequence information and was particularly interested in the evolutionary origin of GLTx and its main site of expression inside the pharynx of glycerid annelids. While finishing my PhD, I joined the Comparative Venomics Group of Dr Ronald A. Jenner at the Natural History Museum London (London, UK) in 2016. Here, I continued contributing in studies determining the putative toxin diversity of bloodworm venoms analyzing Illumina high-throughput RNA sequencing data. For my first PostDoc, I decided to move onto functional aspects of bacterial neurotoxins. I joined the Molecular NeuroPathobiology Laboratory of Prof Giampietro Schiavo (University College London, UK) and investigated axonal transport of the tetanus neurotoxin receptor complex in living motor neurons. In 2019, I started in Alessio’s lab, where I am particularly interested in the mechanisms that regulate intracellular trafficking in peripheral sensory neurons.

mailto: sandy.richter@kcl.ac.uk


BSc Student

I am a 3rd year Neuroscience BSc (Hons) student studying at King’s College London. In my first year, I was able to explore a range of subjects throughout biosciences thanks to the Common Year 1 structure at King’s. Previously, during my second year, I had the opportunity of studying abroad at University of Melbourne exposing me to the international community of scientists and reinforcing my passion towards neuroscience. I am currently conducting my final year project with in Alessio’s lab working on the analysis of mitochondrial motility in peripheral neurons in vivo. Being at an early stage in my career I greatly look forward to contributing much more towards science in the future.

mailto: parth.joshi@kcl.ac.uk


PhD candidate (rotation)

In 2017, I graduated from the University of Oxford (Wadham College) with an undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology. I then studied MSc Neuroscience at King’s College London, to broaden my understanding of the cellular and molecular levels of brain function. My MSc research project was in the lab of Dr. Sandrine Thuret, where I used induced pluripotent stem cells to investigate the effects of cellular stress on neurogenesis. Following my Masters, I worked as a Research Assistant on an academic-industrial collaboration at the Oxford Drug Discovery Institute. My role involved developing in vitro models of Parkinson’s disease for phenotypic analysis and compound screening. In October 2020, I started as an MRes-PhD student on the MRC DTP program. I am completing my third rotation in Alessio’s lab, where I will be investigating mitochondrial function and transport using SH-SY5Y cells.

mailto: ethlyn.lloyd-morris@kcl.ac.uk

Past members:

István Darabán, BSc Biomedical Science (King’s College London), July-September 2020

Maria Eppey, BSc Biochemistry (University of Oxford), June-August 2019

Shiron Drusinsky, BSc Human Biology (University of California Santa Cruz), August 2018

Georgia Raingold, MSc Clinical Neuroscience (King’s College London), February-July 2018