Robin J M Franklin

The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, SCT, United Kingdom

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Publications (219)1325.25 Total impact

  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Myelination allows rapid saltatory propagation of action potentials along the axon and is an essential prerequisite for the normal functioning of the nervous system. During peripheral nervous system (PNS) development, myelin-forming Schwann cells (SCs) generate radial lamellipodia to sort and ensheath axons. This process requires controlled cytoskeletal remodeling, and we show that SC lamellipodia formation depends on the function of profilin 1 (Pfn1), an actin-binding protein involved in microfilament polymerization. Pfn1 is inhibited upon phosphorylation by ROCK, a downstream effector of the integrin linked kinase pathway. Thus, a dramatic reduction of radial lamellipodia formation is observed in SCs lacking integrin-linked kinase or treated with the Rho/ROCK activator lysophosphatidic acid. Knocking down Pfn1 expression by lentiviral-mediated shRNA delivery impairs SC lamellipodia formation in vitro, suggesting a direct role for this protein in PNS myelination. Indeed, SC-specific gene ablation of Pfn1 in mice led to profound radial sorting and myelination defects, confirming a central role for this protein in PNS development. Our data identify Pfn1 as a key effector of the integrin linked kinase/Rho/ROCK pathway. This pathway, acting in parallel with integrin β1/LCK/Rac1 and their effectors critically regulates SC lamellipodia formation, radial sorting and myelination during peripheral nervous system maturation.
    Development 03/2014; · 6.60 Impact Factor
  • Veronique E. Miron, Robin J. M. Franklin
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    ABSTRACT: Microglia are the resident macrophages of the central nervous system that survey the microenvironment for signals of injury or infection. The response to such signals induces an inflammatory response involving macrophages derived from both resident microglia and recruited circulating monocytes. Although implicated as contributors to autoimmune-mediated injury, microglia/ macrophages have recently been shown to be critical for the important central nervous system regenerative process of remyelination. This functional dichotomy may reflect their ability to be polarized along a continuum of activation states including the well-characterized cytotoxic M1 and regenerative M2 phenotypes. Here we review the roles of microglia, monocytes and the macrophages they give rise to in creating lesion environments favourable to remyelination, highlighting the specific roles of M1 and M2 phenotypes and how the pro-regenerative role of the innate immune system is altered by ageing. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 03/2014; · 3.97 Impact Factor
  • Robin J M Franklin, Vittorio Gallo
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    ABSTRACT: Amongst neurological diseases, multiple sclerosis (MS) presents an attractive target for regenerative medicine. This is because the primary pathology, the loss of myelin-forming oligodendrocytes, can be followed by a spontaneous and efficient regenerative process called remyelination. While cell transplantation approaches have been explored as a means of replacing lost oligodendrocytes, more recently therapeutic approaches that target the endogenous regenerative process have been favored. This is in large part due to our increasing understanding of (1) the cell types within the adult brain that are able to generate new oligodendrocytes, (2) the mechanisms and pathways by which this achieved, and (3) an emerging awareness of the reasons why remyelination efficiency eventually fails. Here we review some of these advances and also highlight areas where questions remain to be answered in both the biology and translational potential of this important regenerative process. GLIA 2014;
    Glia 01/2014; · 5.07 Impact Factor
  • Nicolas Granger, Robin J M Franklin, Nick D Jeffery
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    ABSTRACT: During the last two decades, many experiments have examined the ability of cell transplants to ameliorate the loss of function after spinal cord injuries, with the hope of developing interventions to benefit patients. Although many reports suggest positive effects, there is growing concern over the quality of the available preclinical data. It is therefore important to ask whether this worldwide investigative process is close to defining a cell transplant protocol that could be translated into human patients with a realistic chance of success. This review systematically examines the strength of the preclinical evidence and outlines mechanisms by which transplanted cells may mediate their effects in spinal cord injuries. First, we examined changes in voluntary movements in the forelimb associated with cell transplants after partial cervical lesions. Second, we examined the efficacy of transplanted cells to restore electrophysiological conduction across a complete thoracic lesion. We postulated that cell therapies found to be successful in both models could reasonably have potential to treat human patients. We conclude that although there are data to support a beneficial effect of cell transplantation, most reports provide only weak evidence because of deficits in experimental design. The mechanisms by which transplanted cells mediate their functional effects remain unclear.
    The Neuroscientist 01/2014; · 5.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Myelination is essential for rapid impulse conduction in the CNS, but what determines whether an individual axon becomes myelinated remains unknown. Here we show, using a myelinating coculture system, that there are two distinct modes of myelination, one that is independent of neuronal activity and glutamate release and another that depends on neuronal action potentials releasing glutamate to activate NMDA receptors on oligodendrocyte lineage cells. Neuregulin switches oligodendrocytes from the activity-independent to the activity-dependent mode of myelination by increasing NMDA receptor currents in oligodendrocyte lineage cells 6-fold. With neuregulin present myelination is accelerated and increased, and NMDA receptor block reduces myelination to far below its level without neuregulin. Thus, a neuregulin-controlled switch enhances the myelination of active axons. In vivo, we demonstrate that remyelination after white matter damage is NMDA receptor-dependent. These data resolve controversies over the signalling regulating myelination and suggest novel roles for neuregulin in schizophrenia and in remyelination after white matter damage.
    PLoS Biology 12/2013; 11(12):e1001743. · 12.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The increasing effectiveness of new disease-modifying drugs that suppress disease activity in multiple sclerosis has opened up opportunities for regenerative medicines that enhance remyelination and potentially slow disease progression. Although several new targets for therapeutic enhancement of remyelination have emerged, few lend themselves readily to conventional drug development. Here, we used transcription profiling to identify mitogen-activated protein kinase (Mapk) signalling as an important regulator involved in the differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) into oligodendrocytes. We show in tissue culture that activation of Mapk signalling by elevation of intracellular levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) using administration of either dibutyryl-cAMP or inhibitors of the cAMP-hydrolysing enzyme phosphodiesterase-4 (Pde4) enhances OPC differentiation. Finally, we demonstrate that systemic delivery of a Pde4 inhibitor leads to enhanced differentiation of OPCs within focal areas of toxin-induced demyelination and a consequent acceleration of remyelination. These data reveal a novel approach to therapeutic enhancement of remyelination amenable to pharmacological intervention and hence with significant potential for translation.
    EMBO Molecular Medicine 12/2013; 5(12):1918-34. · 7.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The lack of therapies for progressive multiple sclerosis highlights the need to understand the regenerative process of remyelination that can follow CNS demyelination. This involves an innate immune response consisting of microglia and macrophages, which can be polarized to distinct functional phenotypes: pro-inflammatory (M1) and anti-inflammatory or immunoregulatory (M2). We found that a switch from an M1- to an M2-dominant response occurred in microglia and peripherally derived macrophages as remyelination started. Oligodendrocyte differentiation was enhanced in vitro with M2 cell conditioned media and impaired in vivo following intra-lesional M2 cell depletion. M2 cell densities were increased in lesions of aged mice in which remyelination was enhanced by parabiotic coupling to a younger mouse and in multiple sclerosis lesions that normally show remyelination. Blocking M2 cell-derived activin-A inhibited oligodendrocyte differentiation during remyelination in cerebellar slice cultures. Thus, our results indicate that M2 cell polarization is essential for efficient remyelination and identify activin-A as a therapeutic target for CNS regeneration.
    Nature Neuroscience 07/2013; · 15.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ischaemia leads to increased proliferation of progenitors in the subependymal zone (SEZ) neurogenic niche of the adult brain and to generation and migration of newborn neurons. Here we investigated the spatiotemporal characteristics of the mitotic activity of adult neural stem and progenitor cells in the SEZ during the sub-acute and chronic post-ischemic phases. Ischaemia was induced by performing a 1h unilateral middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and tissue was collected 4/5 weeks and 1 year after the insult. Neural stem cells (NSCs) responded differently from their downstream progenitors to MCAO, with NSCs being activated only transiently while progenitors remain activated even at 1 year post-injury. Importantly, mitotic activation was observed only in the affected areas of the niche and specifically in the dorsal half of the SEZ. Analysis of the topography of mitoses, in relation to the anatomy of the lesion and to the position of ependymal cells and blood vessels, suggested an interplay between lesion-derived recruiting signals and the local signals that normally control proliferation in the chronic post-ischemic phase.
    Experimental Neurology 07/2013; · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma-coactivator-1 alpha (PGC1a) is involved in energy and lipid metabolism, and its loss leads to neurodegenerative changes in the striatum. Here we performed lipidomic analysis on brain extracts from PGC1a mutant and wild-type mice. We found increased phosphatidylcholine and decreased ceramides in the brain of PGC1a-deficient mice. An analysis of lipid raft fractions revealed increased ceramide, glucocylceramides and GM1 ganglioside in the PGC1a mutants. In the cerebellum, we observed a decrease in proteins associated with myelination, but were unable to detect any morphological abnormalities in compact myelin formation in PGC1a mutants compared with wild-type mice. Although PGC1a is involved in lipid biosynthesis, we concluded that altered lipid composition in the PGC1a mutant did not directly affect central nervous system myelin morphology.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 06/2013; · 3.75 Impact Factor
  • Peter van Wijngaarden, Robin J M Franklin
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    ABSTRACT: The growing burden of the rapidly ageing global population has reinvigorated interest in the science of ageing and rejuvenation. Among organ systems, rejuvenation of the central nervous system (CNS) is arguably the most complex and challenging of tasks owing, among other things, to its startling structural and functional complexity and its restricted capacity for repair. Thus, the prospect of meaningful rejuvenation of the CNS has seemed an impossible goal; however, advances in stem cell science are beginning to challenge this assumption. This Review outlines these advances with a focus on ageing and rejuvenation of key endogenous stem and progenitor cell compartments in the CNS. Insights gleaned from studies of model organisms, chiefly rodents, will be considered in parallel with human studies.
    Development 06/2013; 140(12):2562-2575. · 6.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Traditionally, in vitro stem cell systems have used oxygen tensions that are far removed from the in vivo situation. This is particularly true for the central nervous system, where oxygen (O2) levels range from 8% at the pia to 0.5% in the midbrain, whereas cells are usually cultured in a 20% O2 environment. Cell transplantation strategies therefore typically introduce a stress challenge at the time of transplantation as the cells are switched from 20% to 3% O2 (the average in adult organs). We have modeled the oxygen stress that occurs during transplantation, demonstrating that in vitro transfer of neonatal rat cortical neural precursor cells (NPCs) from a 20% to a 3% O2 environment results in significant cell death, whereas maintenance at 3% O2 is protective. This survival benefit translates to the in vivo environment, where culture of NPCs at 3% rather than 20% O2 approximately doubles survival in the immediate post-transplantation phase. Furthermore, NPC fate is affected by culture at low, physiological O2 tensions (3%), with particularly marked effects on the oligodendrocyte lineage, both in vitro and in vivo. We propose that careful consideration of physiological oxygen environments, and particularly changes in oxygen tension, has relevance for the practical approaches to cellular therapies.
    Stem cells translational medicine. 05/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Involuntary muscle hyperactivity can result from muscle or peripheral nerve hyperexcitability or central nervous system dysfunction. In humans, diseases causing hyperexcitability of peripheral nerves are grouped together under the term 'peripheral nerve hyperexcitability' (PNH). Hyperexcitability of the peripheral motor nerve can result into five different phenotypic main variants, i.e. fasciculations, myokymia, neuromyotonia, cramps and tetany, each with their own clinical and electromyographic characteristics. This review focuses on the most commonly described expressions of PNH in veterinary medicine, i.e. myokymia and neuromyotonia, in particular in young Jack Russell terriers. Data from 58 veterinary cases with generalized myokymia and neuromyotonia were analyzed, including unpublished treatment and follow-up data on eight Jack Russell terriers from a previous study and seven additional Jack Russell terriers. A dysfunction of the potassium channel or its associated proteins has been found in many human syndromes characterized by PNH, in particular in generalized myokymia and neuromyotonia, and is suspected to occur in veterinary medicine. Potential pathomechanisms of potassium channel dysfunction leading to signs of PNH are broad and include genetic mutations, antibody-mediated attack or ion channel maldistribution due to axonal degeneration or demyelination. A more accurate classification of the different PNH syndromes will facilitate a more rapid diagnosis and guide further research into natural occurring PNH in animals.
    The Veterinary Journal 04/2013; · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The development of new regenerative therapies for multiple sclerosis is hindered by the lack of potential targets for enhancing remyelination. The study of naturally regenerative processes such as the innate immune response represents a powerful approach for target discovery to solve this problem. By 'mining' these processes using transcriptional profiling we can identify candidate factors that can then be tested individually in clinically-relevant models of demyelination and remyelination. Here, therefore, we have examined a previously described in vivo model of the innate immune response in which zymosan-induced macrophage activation in the retina promotes myelin sheath formation by oligodendrocytes generated from transplanted precursor cells. While this model is not itself clinically relevant, it does provide a logical starting point for this study as factors that promote myelination must be present. Microarray analysis of zymosan-treated retinae identified several cytokines (CXCL13, endothelin 2, CCL20 and CXCL2) to be significantly upregulated. When tested in a cerebellar slice culture model, CXCL13 and endothelin 2 promoted myelination and endothelin 2 also promoted remyelination. In studies to identify the receptor responsible for this regenerative effect of endothelin 2, analysis of both remyelination following experimental demyelination and of different stages of multiple sclerosis lesions in human post-mortem tissue revealed high levels of endothelin receptor type B in oligodendrocyte lineage cells. Confirming a role for this receptor in remyelination, small molecule agonists and antagonists of endothelin receptor type B administered in slice cultures promoted and inhibited remyelination, respectively. Antagonists of endothelin receptor type B also inhibited remyelination of experimentally-generated demyelination in vivo. Our work therefore identifies endothelin 2 and the endothelin receptor type B as a regenerative pathway and suggests that endothelin receptor type B agonists represent a promising therapeutic approach to promote myelin regeneration.
    Brain 03/2013; · 9.92 Impact Factor
  • Robin J M Franklin, Timothy J Bussey
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    ABSTRACT: The cellular basis for cognition is generally believed to derive from neurons. In this issue of Cell Stem Cell, Han et al. (2013) transplant human glial progenitors into mouse brains and thereby improve their learning and memory and implicate a previously unknown role for glial cells in contributing to cognition.
    Cell stem cell 03/2013; 12(3):265-6. · 23.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have established and efficient system to specify NG2/PDGF-Rα/OLIG2+ oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) at low, physiological (3%) oxygen levels. This was achieved via both forebrain and spinal cord origins, with up to 98% of cells expressing NG2. Developmental insights reveal a critical role for fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2) in OLIG2 induction via ventral forebrain pathways. The OPCs mature in vitro to express O4 (46%) and subsequently become galactocerebroside (GALC), O1, and myelin basic protein-positive (MBP+) multibranching oligodendrocytes. These were cultured alongside hESC-derived neurons. The electrophysiological properties of human OPCs are similar to those of rat OPCs, with large voltage-gated sodium currents and the ability to fire action potentials. Exposure to a selective retinoid X receptor agonist increased the proportion of O4+ oligodendrocytes that express MBP from 5% to 30%. Thus, we have established a developmentally engineered system to investigate the biological properties of human OPCs and test the effects of putative remyelinating agents prior to clinical application.
    Stem cell reports. 01/2013; 1(5):437-450.
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    ABSTRACT: Remyelination following central nervous system demyelination is essential to prevent axon degeneration. However, remyelination ultimately fails in demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis. This failure of remyelination is likely mediated by many factors, including changes in the extracellular signalling environment. Here, we examined the expression of the extracellular matrix molecule fibronectin on demyelinating injury and how this affects remyelination by oligodendrocytes progenitors. In toxin-induced lesions undergoing efficient remyelination, fibronectin expression was transiently increased within demyelinated areas and declined as remyelination proceeded. Fibronectin levels increased both by leakage from the blood circulation and by production from central nervous system resident cells. In chronically demyelinated multiple sclerosis lesions, fibronectin expression persisted in the form of aggregates, which may render fibronectin resistant to degradation. Aggregation of fibronectin was similarly observed at the relapse phase of chronic experimental autoimmune encephalitis, but not on toxin-induced demyelination, suggesting that fibronectin aggregation is mediated by inflammation-induced demyelination. Indeed, the inflammatory mediator lipopolysaccharide induced fibronectin aggregation by astrocytes. Most intriguingly, injection of astrocyte-derived fibronectin aggregates in toxin-induced demyelinated lesions inhibited oligodendrocyte differentiation and remyelination, and fibronectin aggregates are barely expressed in remyelinated multiple sclerosis lesions. Therefore, these findings suggest that fibronectin aggregates within multiple sclerosis lesions contribute to remyelination failure. Hence, the inhibitory signals induced by fibronectin aggregates or factors that affect fibronectin aggregation could be potential therapeutic targets for promoting remyelination.
    Brain 01/2013; 136(Pt 1):116-31. · 9.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Brain pericytes (BrPCs) are essential cellular components of the central nervous system neurovascular unit involved in the regulation of blood flow, blood-brain barrier function, as well as in the stabilization of the vessel architecture. More recently, it became evident that BrPCs, besides their regulatory activities in brain vessel function and homeostasis, have pleiotropic functions in the adult CNS ranging from stromal and regeneration promoting activities to stem cell properties. This special characteristic confers BrPC cell plasticity, being able to display features of other cells within the organism. BrPCs might also be causally involved in certain brain diseases. Due to these properties BrPCs might be potential drug targets for future therapies of neurological disorders. This review summarizes BrPC properties, disorders in which this cell type might be involved, and provides suggestions for future therapeutic developments targeting BrPCs.
    Drug discovery today 12/2012; · 6.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study was designed to determine whether an intervention proven effective in the laboratory to ameliorate the effects of experimental spinal cord injury could provide sufficient benefit to be of value to clinical cases. Intraspinal olfactory ensheathing cell transplantation improves locomotor outcome after spinal cord injury in 'proof of principle' experiments in rodents, suggesting the possibility of efficacy in human patients. However, laboratory animal spinal cord injury cannot accurately model the inherent heterogeneity of clinical patient cohorts, nor are all aspects of their spinal cord function readily amenable to objective evaluation. Here, we measured the effects of intraspinal transplantation of cells derived from olfactory mucosal cultures (containing a mean of ∼50% olfactory ensheathing cells) in a population of spinal cord-injured companion dogs that accurately model many of the potential obstacles involved in transition from laboratory to clinic. Dogs with severe chronic thoracolumbar spinal cord injuries (equivalent to ASIA grade 'A' human patients at ∼12 months after injury) were entered into a randomized double-blinded clinical trial in which they were allocated to receive either intraspinal autologous cells derived from olfactory mucosal cultures or injection of cell transport medium alone. Recipients of olfactory mucosal cell transplants gained significantly better fore-hind coordination than those dogs receiving cell transport medium alone. There were no significant differences in outcome between treatment groups in measures of long tract functionality. We conclude that intraspinal olfactory mucosal cell transplantation improves communication across the damaged region of the injured spinal cord, even in chronically injured individuals. However, we find no evidence for concomitant improvement in long tract function.
    Brain 11/2012; 135(Pt 11):3227-37. · 9.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transplanted olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) contribute to functional recovery in a range of CNS injuries by several mechanisms, one of which is potentially their ability to form myelin sheaths. OECs sourced from donors of different ages have been shown to remyelinate in several in vitro and in vivo models. However, the optimal donor age for OEC associated remyelination is unclear. This project directly compared the remyelinating potential of p75 purified OEC transplants from three donor ages. OECs were sourced from the olfactory bulbs of embryonic, neonatal and adult rats, purified by immunopanning and their remyelinating potential directly compared by transplantation into the same adult rat toxin-induced model of spinal cord demyelination. Remyelination efficiency three weeks after transplant was assessed morphologically and by immunostaining. Our results indicate that all donor ages remyelinate, however this process is most efficiently achieved by embryonic-derived OECs.
    Cell Transplantation 10/2012; · 4.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease that is considered by many people to have an autoimmune aetiology. In recent years, new data emerging from histopathology, imaging and other studies have expanded our understanding of the disease and may change the way in which it is treated. Conceptual shifts have included: first, an appreciation of the extent to which the neuron and its axon are affected in MS, and second, elucidation of how the neurobiology of axon-glial and, particularly, axon-myelin interaction may influence disease progression. In this article, we review advances in both areas, focusing on the molecular mechanisms underlying axonal loss in acute inflammation and in chronic demyelination, and discussing how the restoration of myelin sheaths via the regenerative process of remyelination might prevent axon degeneration. An understanding of these processes could lead to better strategies for the prevention and treatment of axonal loss, which will ultimately benefit patients with MS.
    Nature Reviews Neurology 10/2012; · 15.52 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

8k Citations
1,325.25 Total Impact Points

Top Journals


  • 2013
    • The University of Edinburgh
      • MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine
      Edinburgh, SCT, United Kingdom
  • 1990–2013
    • University of Cambridge
      • • Department of Clinical Neurosciences
      • • Department of Veterinary Medicine
      • • Brain Repair Centre
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2012
    • Georgetown University
      Washington, Washington, D.C., United States
    • RWTH Aachen University
      • Department of Neuroanatomy
      Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
    • Iowa State University
      • Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
      Ames, IA, United States
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      • Department of Materials Science and Engineering
      Cambridge, MA, United States
  • 2008–2012
    • Osaka Prefecture University
      • • Laboratory of Veterinary Pathology
      • • Department of Veterinary Science
      Sakai, Osaka-fu, Japan
    • University of Bonn
      • Institute of Reconstructive Neurobiology
      Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2009–2011
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Maryland, United States
    • Medical University of Vienna
      • Universitätsklinik für Neurochirurgie
      Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  • 2010
    • University of California, San Francisco
      • Department of Pediatrics
      San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 2006–2007
    • ETH Zurich
      • Department of Biology
      Zürich, ZH, Switzerland
    • Eawag: Das Wasserforschungs-Institut des ETH-Bereichs
      Duebendorf, Zurich, Switzerland
    • Brigham and Women's Hospital
      • Department of Medicine
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2005
    • National Institutes of Health
      Maryland, United States
  • 2004
    • University College London
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2001
    • Animal Health Trust
      Newmarket, England, United Kingdom
  • 2000–2001
    • University of Glasgow
      Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 1999
    • Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom