Professor Andrew Furley

School of Biosciences

Deputy Head of School, Professor of Developmental Neuroscience

Professor Andrew Furley
Profile picture of Professor Andrew Furley
+44 114 222 2354

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Professor Andrew Furley
School of Biosciences
Firth Court
Western Bank
S10 2TN
  • 2021-Present: Deputy Head of School, School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield 
  • 2018-2021: Professor of Developmental Neuroscience, School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield. Head of Research Training Faculty of Science
  • 2004-2018: Senior Lecturer, Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield. Head of Research Training, Faculty of Science
  • 1997-2004: Lecturer (Centre for Developmental & Biomedical Genetics), Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield
  • 1992-1997: MRC Research Scientist, Division of Developmental Neurobiology, NIMR, Mill Hill, London
  • 1990-1992: Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow, Center for Neurobiology & Behavior, Columbia University, New York (Advisor: T. Jessell)
  • 1987-1990: Jane Coffin Childs Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dept of Biochemistry, Columbia University, New York (Advisors:F. Alt/T. Jessell)
  • 1987: PhD Leukaemia Biology, Imperial Cancer Research/UCL, London (Supervisor: M. Greaves)
  • 1982: B.Sc. (Hons) Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh
Research interests

Our research is focussed on the role L1CAM-like cell adhesion molecules (L1-CNTNs) in neural development and disease (Gennarini et al., 2017Gennarini & Furley., 2017). L1-CNTNs affect neural function at all stages, including the earliest proliferation and differentiation of progenitor and stem cells (Bizzoca et al 2003Ma et al 2008Xenaki et al., 2011Bizzoca et al., 2012Ha et al., 2015), the guidance of axons (Cohen et al 1998Law et al 2008Dang et al 2012), through to firing of action potentials (Poliak et al 2003) and functioning of synapses (Bliss et al 2000). As a result, these molecules are widely implicated in neurological disease and cancers.

Our aim is to understand the cellular mechanisms through which L1-CNTNs affect this wide variety of processes. Our current work is focussed particularly on the role of NrCAM in regulating the Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) pathway in medulloblastoma (Sakurai et al., 2001; Xenaki et al., 2011) and in neural stem cells (Bizzoca et al., 2012), with a specific emphasis on its role in controlling the trafficking of SHH pathway components into and out of primary cilia (Basu et al., 2015).

Most recently, we have begun to use neural organoids derived from human induced pluripotent cells (iPSCs) to develop in vitro systems with which to study both L1-CNTN function and to generate hypothalamic progenitors and neurons (with Barbaric and Placzek in BMS).

The cell biology of signal modulation in neural development and cancer

In biology context is everything. We aim to understand how cellular context alters the responses of cells to intercellular signals, focussing on the role of the L1-contactin ‘adhesion’ molecules (L1-CNTNs) in neural development. We have shown L1-CNTNs to modulate signals as diverse as semaphorins and hedgehogs (HHs) by altering the intracellular trafficking of their receptors during signalling. Our work on L1-CNTN modulation of Sema signalling during the wiring of mouse spinal sensory circuits (Dang et al 2012) has converged on our studies showing F3/contactin repression of Sonic HH-stimulated proliferation of cerebellar neuron progenitors (Xenaki et al 2011) to focus on a potential role for NrCAM in the trafficking of SHH signalling pathway components in the primary cilium. We are collaborating with Cadby (Physics) to develop STORM super resolution microscopy to follow this in real time (Peedikakkal et al., 2017). Collaborations with Clifford (Newcastle) reveal NrCAM to be upregulated in SHH group medulloblastomas and loss of NrCAM in vivo affects the penetrance of neoplasia in the Ptch1 mouse medulloblastoma model (Basu et al., 2015).

Roles for NrCAM in hypothalamic stem cell behaviour and for TAG1 in autism and obesity (3) are also being investigated with Placzek (BMS), Markx (NY) and Buchner (Ohio; Buchner et al 2012) respectively, while with Whyte, Walmsley (Edinburgh) and Renshaw (IICD/Bateson) we have investigated semaphorins in neutrophil function (Plant et al., 2020).

I also have a particular interest in the use of animals in research, which relates to my masters Bioethics teaching (with Townend, Maastricht), and was the Sheffield lead in an FP7 project (ANIMPACT) aimed at evaluating the impact of Directive 2010/63/EU on animal welfare and research competitiveness in member states (Fernandes et al., 2019).


Show: Featured publications All publications

Journal articles

Conference proceedings papers

All publications

Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

  • Plant TM, Carlin L, Ellett FEJ, Mirchandani A, Morgan JM, Watts E, Murphy F, Eamsamnarng S, Furley A, Whyte MKB & Walmsley S (2018) T3 Sema3F is an autocrine neutrophil retention signal regulating neutrophil transit and effector functions in acute lung injury. Thorax, Vol. 73(Suppl_4). London, UK, 5 December 2018 - 7 December 2018. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Franco NH, Fernandes JG, Grierson AJ, Furley AJ & Olsson IAS (2016) "Mind the method!" - A longitudinal assessment of methodological soundness and quality of reporting of als research on the sod1g93a mouse. MEDICINE, Vol. 95(10) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Basu B, Weeranantanapan O, Xenaki D & Furley A (2015) NrCAM modulates sonic hedgehog signalling by controlling smoothened translocation in the cilium. Cilia, Vol. 4((Suppl 1)) (pp 35-35), 18 November 2015 - 21 November 2015. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Almansoori K, Valori C, Furley A, Chandran J, Wood J & Azzouz M (2014) The mRNA exporter GLE1 is essential for embryonic development. FEBS Journal, Vol. 281(Suppl 1) (pp 644-645) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dang P, Law C & Furley A (2009) TAG-1 regulates sensory axonal responses to the chemorepellant Semaphorin3A. MECHANISMS OF DEVELOPMENT, Vol. 126 (pp S306-S306) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dawe GS, Ma QH, Futagawa T, Yang WL, Jiang XD, Zeng L, Takeda Y, Xu RX, Bagnard D, Schachner M , Furley AJ et al (2008) A tag on to the physiological functions of APP in neurogenesis. JOURNAL OF NEUROCHEMISTRY, Vol. 106 (pp 32-32) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Jiang W, Furley AJ, Bardhan K & Grundy D (2006) Target-derived nerve growth factor (NGF) regulating spinal sensory axon outgrowth to the embryonic mouse gut. GASTROENTEROLOGY, Vol. 130(4) (pp A255-A255) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Yeomans HJ, Kiernan BW & Furley AJW (2000) Pathfinding of spinal commissural axons: The role of immunoglobulin-like cell adhesion molecules. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, Vol. 12 (pp 276-276) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Gennarini G, Kozlov S, Sonderegger P & Furley A (2000) Misexpression of the mouse F3 axonal glycoprotein under the transient axonal glycoprotein promoter results in a cerebellar phenotype in early development.. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, Vol. 12 (pp 275-275) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Clarke KA, Still J & Furley A (1998) Gait analysis for possible behavioral assessment of transgenic mice. FASEB J, Vol. 12(4) (pp A135-A135) RIS download Bibtex download


Research group

External collaborators

  • Prof. Steve Clifford, Newcastle
  • Prof. Moira Whyte & Dr Sarah Walmsley, Edinburgh
  • Prof. Gianfrano Gennarini, Bari, Italy
  • Prof. David Townend, Maastricht, Netherlands
  • Dr Sander Markx, Columbia, NY, USA
  • Dr David Buchner, Case Western, Ohio, USA
  • Dr Avihu Klar, Hebrew University, Israel
  • Dr David Beier, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

Current Lab Members:

  • Miss Bethany James (MRC DiMeN PhD Student; joint with Prof Marysia Placzek and Dr Ivana Barbaric)
  • Brain Tumour Support across Yorkshire
  • FP7
Teaching activities

Undergraduate and postgraduate taught modules


  • BMS109-153 Neuroscience
  • BMS243/249 Developmental Neurobiology
  • BMS381 Developmental Neurobiology (Co-ordinator)
  • BMS382 Stem Cell Biology
  • Level 3 Practical and Dissertation Modules
  • BMS404 Ethics, the Law and Public Awareness of Science (Co-ordinator)

Masters (MSc)

  • BMS6054 - Ethics, the Law and Public Awareness of Science (Co-ordinator)
  • BMS6318 Developmental Neurobiology (Co-ordinator)
Professional activities and memberships
  • British Society for Developmental Biology (BSDB; Committee member (1999-2005); Publications Secretary (2000-2005;
  • MRC Advisory Board (MAB) 2002-2005
  • Appointed adviser on genetics and biotechnology to EU-wide consortium (PRIVILEGED) determining the ethical and legal interests in privacy and data protection for research involving the use of genetic databases and bio-banks, 2007.
  • Chair: BNA Symposium, Edinburgh. April 2015
  • Panel Member: Volkswagen Foundation DiSCUSS-Cancer Stem Cells, Hannover. Oct 2014
  • 2016 - 2020: External Examiner UG & MSc Neuroscience Programme, King’s College, London
  • 2019: Invited participant & organiser, Bioethics Workshop, University of Zurich
  • 2016: Guest Editor, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Special Issue on “Cell Adhesion Molecules in Development and Disease”
  • 2015: Chair and co-organiser, International Symposium “Exploring Axonal Development And Connectivity” at British Neuroscience Association Conference, Edinburgh
  • 2014: Invited attendance the Academy of Medical Science symposium on “Reproducibility and Reliability of Biomedical Science” (April 2014) at the Wellcome Trust
  • 2014: Career Session for Early Career Neurobiologists and Neuroscientists, Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Axon Guidance & Neural Plasticity
  • 2013-2017: UK lead for FP7 ANIMPACT consortium: ‘An ethical, legal and practical perspective on the impact of a new regulatory framework for the scientific use of animals on research and innovation