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Dr Sean Wyatt

Dr Sean Wyatt

Senior Lecturer

School of Biosciences

Email
wyattsl@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 6153
Campuses
Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Overview

Research overview

I investigate the roles of secreted proteins in regulating the differentiation, survival and phenotype of developing vertebrate neurons. In particular, I am interested in the roles of these proteins in modulating the growth of axons and dendrites which establishes neural connectivity in the developing vertebrate nervous system. More recently, I have become engaged in research aiming to identify the mechanisms that underlie the degeneration of Substantia Nigra dopaminergic neuron axon terminals in the striatum, a process that precedes the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Biography

I joined the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University as a Senior Lecturer in June 2004. Prior to taking up this position at Cardiff, I worked as a Senior Scientist at Rinat Neuroscience a biotech company situated in Palo Alto, California that was established in 2001, the year I joined the company. Before joining Rinat, I held a Royal Society University Fellowship and was working at the Royal Dick Vet School at Edinburgh University. The Fellowship was awarded in 1999 whilst I was a post-doc in the Department of Biology at St. Andrews University and I moved to Edinburgh in early 2000. I had arrived at St. Andrews University to take up my second post-doctoral position in 1996 after completing my first post-doc appointment in the Department of Molecular Pathology at University College, London from 1993-1996. Prior to this, I undertook a PhD in Molecular Neurobiology in the Department of Anatomy at St Georges Medical School, London between 1987 and 1992. I studied for a BSc (hons) degree in Biology at Southampton University between 1983-1986.

Publications

2021

2020

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2000

Teaching

Current teaching

  • Year 2. Fundamental Neuroscience. Lectures on neural development (deputy module lead).
  • Year 2. Dentists. Basic Sciences, Neuroscience component comprising introductory neuroanatomy and neurophysiology (module lead).
  • Year 1. Medic Preclinical Sciences. Lectures on membrane transport and muscle contraction and practical on nerve conduction.
  • Supervision of final year projects

Past teaching

  • Year 3. Degeneration and repair in the CNS
  • Year 3. Neural Development and plasticity
  • Year 3. Molecular Neuroscience

Research

I investigate how secreted proteins regulate neuronal differentiation, survival and the establishment of neural connections in the developing vertebrate nervous systems. In the last decade, I have become focussed on members of the TNF and TNF receptor superfamily’s, proteins that were originally characterised as immune modulators. It is becoming increasingly clear that many members of the TNFSF and TNFRSF play crucial roles in neural development, in particular in the establishment, maintenance and remodelling of neural connections. Techniques employed in my research group include: primary cell culture; fluorescent labelling and imaging of neuronal processes and an analysis of the length and complexity of axons and dendrites in vitro and in vivo; molecular techniques to analyse gene expression and intracellular signalling in neurons exposed to secreted proteins; transgenic approaches to determine the effects that modulating the expression of secreted proteins and their receptors has on developing neurons, both in vitro and in vivo. 

Ongoing collaborations

Dr Gerard O'Keeffe, University College Cork.

Identifying and characterising secreted signalling molecules and intracellular signal transduction pathways that regulate the growth of axons from developing dopaminergic neurons of the Substantia Nigra, with the aim of identifying approaches that may slow the degeneration of dopaminergic axon terminals within the striatum in Parkinson's disease.

Dr Tim Wells, Cardiff University School of Biosciences.

Investigating the mechanisms that underlie the cognitive deficits experienced by individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome.

Supervision

Past projects

  • Co-supervisor (33%) for Osman Calhan - Comparing the actions of neurotrophic factors on developing mouse sympathetic neurons from paravertebral and prevertebral ganglia (due to be submitted December 2020).
  • Supervisor for Christopher Laurie - Investigating the role of growth differentiation factor 5 (GDF5) in the development of the mouse nervous system (awarded 2016).