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Dr Frank Schubert

Principal Lecturer

Frank Schubert


Inspired by the fascinating insight that biological research gives into the living world, I studied Biology in Germany at the Universities of Kiel and Heidelberg, graduating in 1989. I spent one year at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, studying gene transfer methods with Dr Erwin Wagner (1988-1989), before starting my postgraduate studies at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen (1989-1994). During my PhD project in the group of Prof Peter Gruss I investigated the evolution of the Hox cluster in vertebrates and insects. My isolation and characterisation of a novel vertebrate homeobox gene expressed in the embryonic brain set the focus for my career – investigating the molecular mechanisms of brain development.

Having obtained the doctorate from the University of Heidelberg, I joined the laboratory of Prof Andrew Lumsden at King's College London as an EMBO research fellow. My postdoctoral studies (1994-2003) resulted in the isolation and characterisation of a number of developmental control genes, two successful PhD projects (Susan Chapman and Robin Gogoi), a collaboration with the lab of Antonio Simeone, and a highly productive partnership with Susanne Dietrich whose work on paraxial mesoderm patterning is now a textbook-cited classic.

Appointed to a faculty position at the University of Portsmouth in 2003, I am leading a lab working on vertebrate brain development. A major focus of our work is the development of the first nerve connections in the embryonic brain, the early axon scaffold. We are investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying neurogenesis, cell fate determination and axon guidance. Further projects include the vascularisation of the brain, developing the chicken embryo as an in vivo model for paediatric brain tumours, and the evolution of gene families.

Research Interests

  • Gene regulatory networks controlling neurogenesis and cell fate in the early brain
  • Axon guidance of early axon tracts in the embryonic brain
  • Vascularisation of the embryonic brain
  • Chicken embryo as in vivo model for paediatric brain tumours (collaboration with Dr. Helen Fillmore)
  • Phylogenetic analysis of gene family evolution

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