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Dr Elena Dreosti
B09F
Rockefeller Building, UCL
Gower Street
London
WC1E 6DE
Dr Elena Dreosti profile picture
Appointment
  • Senior Research Associate
  • Wolfson Inst for Biomedical Research
  • Div of Medicine
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences
Biography

Elena Dreosti graduated in 2006 with a first-class degree in Medical Biotechnology and Cellular neuroscience from the University of Trieste (Italy). During her internship in the lab of Enrico Cherubini at the ISAS of Trieste, she discovered her passion for neuroscience research. Therefore, she moved to Cambridge (UK) to carry out her PhD studies with Leon Lagnado at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Here she focused on understanding how visual stimuli are processed within the retina of zebrafish animals, and she developed the first generation of genetically encoded calcium indicators to monitor synaptic activity, SyGCaMP. 


She was then awarded with a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship to work in the labs of Emre Yaksi in Leuven (Belgium), Michael Orger in Lisbon (Portugal) and Steve Wilson at UCL (London, UK). During this time she demonstrated that vertebrate brains are endowed with functional asymmetries, and different hemispheres can process different information similarly to human brains.


In 2016 she started her independent research group as Wellcome Trust & Royal Society Sir Henry dale Fellow at UCL, and she is pioneering the use of zebrafish to study social behaviour. 


Research Summary

Our lab studies the neuronal circuit that underlies fundamental social behaviours, such as social preference, by using zebrafish as model system. 


We all constantly seek the company of others, and as a result we spend most of our time together with other people. Our lives and actions are strongly influenced by the behaviours of friends and even strangers. What we know, so far, is that our brains are hardly wired to connect with other people. However, it is still a mystery what are the fundamental brain circuits that underlive this strong and innate social drive, and how these social circuits can be modulated by environmental factors, genes, and even other sensory modalities.


Social drives are a conserved feature of all social animals and, therefore, we use zebrafish to characterise the social brain areas that processes social stimuli. These animals show a large repertoire of social behaviours and are also amenable of optical and genetical techniques. This allow us to image and modify neural activity of single cells throughout the whole brain.


Many neurological diseases show altered social behaviour. By identifying key social areas in the brain and understand how they develop, how they process information, and how they are modified in different conditions, we hope to ultimately contribute to better understand the aetiology and the triggering factors of these diseases.


Teaching Summary

During her Post Doc, Dr. Dreosti has taught animal behavioural techniques at the “Transylvania Experimental Neuroscience Summer School (TENSS, Romania) for few years, and at the Cajal Behavioural Neuroscience Summer School (CNP Lisbon). She has also been a course Instructor at the MBL Zebrafish Genetics and Development course (Woods Hole, USA). 


Since she became a Research Fellow at UCL, she has been giving lectures to different Undergraduate and Postgraduate Modules. 
She has been developing new training courses for PhD students in neuroscience together with the Cajal Advanced Neuroscience Training Programme.

  
She acts as personal tutor for neuroscience undergraduates.


Appointments
AUG-2016 – JAN-2023 Wellcome Trust & Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow WIBR UCL, United Kingdom
OCT-2011 – JUL-2016 Sir Henry Wellcome Trust Postoctoral Fellow Cell and Developmental Biology UCL, United Kingdom
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