Professor Marysia Placzek
Professor in Developmental Neurobiology
Room: D18b Firth Court
Brief career history
We study how the hypothalamus of the brain is formed in the embryo
In development, hypothalamic nerves and glia are built in space and time with an order and precision that leads ultimately to the integrated assembly of the brain-body axis. The proper development of the hypothalamus is therefore vital to ensure that throughout life, brain and body function in perfect harmony and balance. Our research focuses on the stem and progenitor cells that build the hypothalamus. Our goal is to characterise the molecular networks involved in hypothalamic development, and determine how they work to build and maintain the different cells of the hypothalamus. Our work will contribute to understanding the importance of the hypothalamus to robust long-term health and will shed light onto diseases and disruptions of homeostasis.
Building the hypothalamus through life
My research focuses on the development of the hypothalamus and on its cellular plasticity over the lifecourse.
The functions of the hypothalamus in mediating homeostasis are well-known. By contrast, little is understood of how hypothalamic cells form in development. This knowledge is important, because early indications suggest that deregulation of developmental programmes may underlie complex human pathological conditions, including stress and eating disorders. Our goal is therefore to understand how the hypothalamus develops in the embryo and how the proper embryonic assembly of the hypothalamus holds the key to robust adult function. We focus in particular on five key areas:
We use a range of animal model systems (chick, mouse, zebrafish) and combine in vivo and ex vivo approaches with imaging, transgenic, gain-and loss-of-function approaches to characterise how stem/progenitor cells renew, or differentiate in response to local and systemic signals.
Undergraduate and postgraduate taught modules
- Sonic hedgehog in vertebrate neural tube development. International Journal of Developmental Biology, 62(1-3), 221-230. View this article in WRRO
- Fgf10(+) progenitors give rise to the chick hypothalamus by rostral and caudal growth and differentiation.. Development, 144, 3278-3288. View this article in WRRO
- Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia-1 is essential for normal hypothalamic-pituitary-interrenal (HPI) axis function. Human Molecular Genetics, 26(11), 1992-2005. View this article in WRRO
- Rx3 and Shh direct anisotropic growth and specification in the zebrafish tuberal/anterior hypothalamus. Development, 143, 2651-2663. View this article in WRRO
- Development of the Neuroendocrine Hypothalamus.. Comprehensive Physiology, 6(2), 623-643.
- ProNodal acts via FGFR3 to govern duration of Shh expression in the prechordal mesoderm. Development, 142(22), 3821-3832. View this article in WRRO
- α-Tanycytes of the adult hypothalamic third ventricle include distinct populations of FGF-responsive neural progenitors.. Nat Commun, 4, 2049. View this article in WRRO
- Direct and indirect roles of Fgf3 and Fgf10 in innervation and vascularisation of the vertebrate hypothalamic neurohypophysis.. Development, 140(5), 1111-1122.
- Development of the Neuroendocrine Hypothalamus, Masterclass in Neuroendocrinology (pp. 3-30). Springer International Publishing