Professor Frances Edwards



Australian National University

Max Plank Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

Gottingen, Germany

PhD, Neurophysiology | 1990                                                           


University of Sydney

MSc, Pharmacology | 1984​


University of Sydney

BSc Hons, Pharmacology | 1980


Frances Edwards graduated in Pharmacology at the University of Sydney, Australia and received her PhD whilst working at the Max-Planck Institute in Germany under the Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Bert Sakmann. After staying on as a postdoctoral fellow in Sakmann's lab, in 1990 she joined David Colquhoun’s group in Pharmacology at UCL as a Wellcome European Fellow. After returning to Australia in 1992 Frances held a Queen Elizabeth II Research Fellowship at the University of Sydney from 1993 until 1996. In 1996 she joined the Department of Physiology at UCL. Until 2010 the focus of the Edwards lab was mechanisms of fast synaptic transmission and the role of dendritic spines in plasticity using electrophysiology and confocal imaging. In 2010 the research direction largely shifted to research on Alzheimer's disease, studying several transgenic mouse models of human mutations in the amyloid pathway or microtubule-associated protein tau. Recently improved knock-in models have been developed and these are now the focus of the lab.


In 1997, Frances Edwards and Maria Fitzgerald set up the MSc Neuroscience at UCL which Edwards then ran with a series of other colleagues until 2013. This is a highly academic research-based degree exposing about 40 students per year to the most recent neuroscience research from across the whole of UCL in the form of research seminars, journal clubs and an extensive research project. Now relieved of this major administrative and teaching load, Frances Edwards continues to contribute to the undergraduate, Masters and PhD courses in Neuroscience, particularly concentrating on the the practical lab experience and library research of undergraduate and graduate students.

Interests Beyond UCL:

Frances Edwards has always been actively interested in issues of the natural environment and now works from home much of the time dividing her time between the Essex coast on the River Crouch and the west coast of Ireland where she and her husband grow trees and are proud to be protecting an old forest on their land on the River Roughty in co. Kerry. They also enjoy sailing on the Irish coast. Other interests include making pottery and in recent years wood turning.

Postdoctoral Researchers

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Dr. Damian Cummings

I use single cell and field electrophysiology complemented with fluorescent immunohistochemistry, confocal imaging and behavioural approaches to understand the interactions of neurones and microglia to the development of early Alzheimer's disease pathologies. I am also involved with teaching in both the lab and classroom environments.

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Dr. Takshashila Tripathi

I am molecular biologist postdoc working on a Cure-Alzheimer's funded research project studying the genome-wide transcriptomic analysis in the latest APPKI mice model with and without heterozygous human Tau (KI) from 2 to 24 months. We correlate changes in gene expression and development of pathology and also investigate the differences caused by the presence of human Tau investigating development of plaques and the interaction with human Tau, to assess Aβ-induced Tau pathology.
One of my roles is supervising students in the lab.


PhD Students


Katie Stringer

I look into the biochemistry of how early amyloid plaques aggregate and deposit in our APP knock-in mice, using a new chemical imaging paradigm called 'iSILK' - a combination of stable isotope labelling kinetics & imaging mass spectrometry. I also look at how microglia behave around plaques using hyperspectral confocal microscopy. I work in collaboration with Dr Jörg Hanrieder's Neurochemistry group at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


Jack Wood

Throughout my masters and research assistant roles at the Edwards Lab, I focused on using techniques of molecular biology to characterise the microglial response to rising amyloid pathology in APP knock-in mice. Now as a 1st year PhD student, I use techniques of neurochemistry and molecular biology to assess the interaction of microglia and Alzheimer’s risk genes with varying plaque composition and age. I work in collaboration with Dr Jörg Hanrieder's Neurochemistry group at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


Kari Vitanova

My project aims to understand the early mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease and specifically, the role of microglia in mediating the early response of the brain to the pathological amyloid plaques and their effects on axonal transmission.

Abdulaziz Aljawder

1st year PhD student. Research: Studying the role of astrocytes in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. A great deal of work has concentrated on the role of microglia in relation to plaque deposition and development and synaptic transmission, but little is understood about how these changes affect astrocytes. We hypothesis that astrocytes may play an important role in compensating for microglial dysfunction as plaques develop. The role of astrocytes will be studied in the most advanced mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, combining rising amyloid beta with other known human risk factors for the disease: age, microglial mutations and obesity, using gene expression analysis, immunohistochemistry, molecular techniques and electrophysiology.


Research Assistants


Sneha Desai

I’m a recent BSc Biomedical Sciences graduate from UCL and am working as a research assistant in the lab. I’m currently involved in a project which aims to evaluate how Aβ-induced changes in gene expression and pathological development will be exacerbated when additional risk factors, either genetic (Trem2) or environmental (obesity), are added to APP knock-in mice. The combination of additional risk factors with rising Aβ in very aged mice may provide a better model of Alzheimer’s Disease, therefore highlighting altered pathways and potential therapeutic targets.

Lily Gould

I am a Neuroscience MSc student at UCL currently working as a technician in the lab. My role primarily involves organising the mice used in the research and providing support to current lab members. I will be starting my research project in the Edwards' lab next year. 

Masters Students

Aya Balbaa

I recently joined the Edwards lab as a Neuroscience MSc student. My research project uses my previous experience in bioinformatics to analyse novel spatial transcriptomics data in knock-in mice models of Alzheimer's disease. Results from this analysis will guide future wet-lab validation experiments.

Darcey Kirwin

I have recently joined the lab as a Neuroscience MSc student. This year I will focus on using immunohistochemical techniques to validate changes in mitochondrial gene expression that have been observed in hTau x APP knock-in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). As my project progresses, I hope to also investigate the functional outcomes of these genetic changes in relation to how they contribute to AD pathology.

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Eugenia Wong

I am an undergraduate MSci pharmacology student at UCL. My project focuses on the spatial genomics of microglia and astrocytes in relation to their proximity to plaques in APP knock-in mice and how the Trem2R47H mutation may affect their gene expression.


Undergraduate Students


Vidmante Jurgaityte

I am an undergraduate UCL student who has just finished a second year of BSc Pharmacology. Before coming to F. Edwards lab, I have been an intern at wet labs that purify new esterases, test the effect of drugs on cancer cells and rodent eyes. In this lab, I will use voltage clamp recordings to investigate how amyloid β plaques affect synaptic transmission in hippocampi of Alzheimer’s disease-related mice.



Dr. Jörg Hanrieder - Associate Professor in the Dept. Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University

Prof. John Hardy - Chair of the Molecular Biology of Neurological Disease, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, UCL

Dr. John G Hardy - Senior Lecturer in Materials Chemistry, Department of Chemistry & Materials Science Institute, Lancaster University

Prof. Tammaryn Lashley - Professor of Neuroscience, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, UCL

Dr. Dervis Salih - Senior Research Associate, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, UCL

Dr Sevinc Bayram - Bioinformatician, Hitatchi Rail Europe Ltd

Professor Lion Shahab - Institute of Epidemiology and Health, UCL 



Dr Dervis Salih, Senior Research Associate

Diana Pamela Benitez, PhD student

Jonathan Brenton, PhD student

Dr Wenfei Liu, PhD student

Dr Tiffany Benway, PhD student

Dr Zelah Joel, PhD student

Dr Joshua Paulin, PhD student

Dr Peter Haslehurst, PhD student

Dr Caroline Mestrallet, PhD student

Rui Wang, RA

Shenyi Jiang, RA

Mila Redzic, MSci student

Megan Watts, MSc student

Charlotte Carver, MSc student

Tom Hagley, MSci student

Oriane Onimus, Placement Student

Peipeng Lin, MSci student

Dimitra Sokolova, MSc student

Giorgos Sideris, Erasmus student

Dhaval Joshi, MSci student

Ms Rivka Steinberg, Research assistant

Dr Angelo Tedoldi, Research assistant

Aishwarya Pathak, MSc student

Eda Karakaya, Placement Student

Martha Roberts, MSc student

Natalie Wong, MSci student

Philippa Rosewell, MSc student

Vicky Smith, MSci student

Oriane Tasou, MSc student

Chloe Hall, MSc student

Carlijn Peerboom, MSc student

Pablo Izquierdo Garrudo, MSc student

Mario Mazzantini, MPhil

Dr Isabel Dean, PhD student

Dr Stephanie Parsley, PhD student

Dr Gareth Price, PhD student

Dr Sue Robertson, Postdoc

Dr Hemai Parthasarathy, Postdoc 

Dr Roberta Donato, Postdoc

Dr Anna De Simoni, Postdoc

Dr Dietlind Koch, Postdoc

Dr Marina Yasvoina, Postdoc

Dr Lily Yu, Research assistant

Aygun Badalova, Rotation PhD Student

Ridwaan Joghee, MSc student

Nazar Stasyuk, Msc student