Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences
Research Groups: Brain Health and Behaviour, CPCS (Research Programme)
"I'm trying to find a cure for a childhood neurodegenerative disease"
Claire is a Senior Lecturer in Comparative Biomedical Sciences. Her research uses the zebrafish, Danio rerio, for studying developmental biology and to model disorders and disease. Claire's research focusses on the nervous sytem and diseases that affect the nervous sytem such as neurodegeneration and epilepsy.
Claire Russell graduated from Imperial College, London, in 1991. She subsequently obtained a DPhil from the University of Sussex in 1995, During her DPhil, Claire investigated the development of imaginal discs in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, whilst in Robert Whittle’s laboratory.
Claire subsequently moved back to Imperial College to begin postdoctoral studies on axon guidance, again using the fruit fly as a model system. Claire worked for Guy Tear and continued to do so after the laboratory moved to King’s College, London. Claire then turned to a vertebrate model organism, the zebrafish, Danio rerio, to continue her studies on neural development in Steve Wilson’s laboratory at UCL, London.
Claire is a member of several societies, including the Biochemical Society, the British Society of Developmental Biology, the Genetics Society, the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, the International Brain Research Organisation, the Onternational Society for Neurochemistry and EuFishBioMed. Claire is also an Associate of the Royal College of Science.
Claire is a member of the EUFishBioMed committee and local representative for the Genetics Society.
Claire was a local organiser for the 13th (2012) and 16th (2018) International Meeting on Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis, both held at Royal Holloway University of London.
Claire’s research group predominantly uses the zebrafish model organism to understand various aspects of nervous system development and disease. Collaborations provide access to other model organisms such as mice, chick and Xenopus.
The zebrafish is low-cost and genetically-tractable. Embryos and larvae are very fast developing, transparent and small enough for drug discovery. They are also amenable to experimental techniques such as cell transplantation and electroporation as they develop external to the mother. Hence, the early zebrafish is an excellent vertebrate for investigating the function of genes. The use of zebrafish embryos and larvae is not covered by the Home Office so they are 'replacement' models with respect to the 3Rs.
Claire is a Home Office Project Licence and Personal Licence holder.
Claire's research focusses on zebrafish models of neurodegeneration, ataxia and epilepsy, especially, but not confined to the Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses (NCLs). Such models are being used to understand disease onset, progression and mechanisms and to perform drug discovery. In particular, we focus on the role of microglia, the involvement of autophagy, and the nature of mitochondrial dysfunction in disease.
She has collaborated on projects that cross-over into these themes: the role of mitochondrial ATPIF1 in vivo, and modelling a syndrome caused by loss of a potassium channel that causes epilepsy, ataxia, sensorineural deafness and tubulopathy.
Claire, her group and ongoing close collaborators have expertise in:
zebrafish husbandry, development and neurobiology; zebrafish genetics, mutants and transgenics; zebrafish EEG and ERG; zebrafish drug discovery; molecular biology, mapping and cloning; brightfield, fluorescence and confocal imaging; in situ hybridisation, immunohistochemistry; zebrafish laser ablation and electroporation.
Claire is currently looking for INDUSTRY PARTNERS interested in mutually-beneficial partnerships, either in relation to basic or medical research or providing placements for undergraduate students. Claire is particularly interested in other lysosomal storage disorders, investigating causes and mechanisms of neurological disease, using chemical libraries for drug discovery, and using the zebrafish to test novel methods of delivering therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier.
Postgraduates in the final year of their PhD and postdocs wishing to apply for a FELLOWSHIP within any of the topics mentioned are encouraged to contact Claire as there are funding opportunities from charities.
I also welcome applications from MSci Bioveterinary Sciences project students
Current PhD students:
Chris Minnis, BBSRC LiDO DTP, Co -supervised by Prof. Sara Mole (UCL). 'Genomic and chemogenomic approach to the protein quality control problem'
Lisa Kiani, BBSRC LiDO iCASE DTP in collaboration with Nestle Institute of Health Science. Co-supervised by Dr Philip Gut (NIHS) and Dr Michelangelo Campanella (RVC). ''
Past PhD students:
Kim Wager - Zebrafish models of neurodegeneration. This project is to clone a mutation that causes neurodegeneration in zebrafish and to validate a zebrafish model of juvenile NCL.
Fahad Mahmood - Zebrafish models of Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis. This project focusses on the validation of a zebrafish CLN2 mutant as a model of late-infantile NCL, followed by drug discovery using the same model.
Claire has previously, at UCL and KCL, co-supervised three PhD students:
Jenny Regan (UCL, zebrafish mechanisms of asymmetry), Isaac Bianco (UCL, zebrafish asymmetry and connectivity), Bryony Butland (IC and KCL, Drosophila developmental neurobiology)
MSci: Sueda Ozbudun
MRes: Catherine Gaskin
MSc in Neuroscience (KCL): Basma Bafadal, Philip Eldridge, Dionysos Nalkos, Virginia Brickell, Abimbola Olabode, Ludovica Di Canio, Katerina Marinou, Emma Isabella El Makdeesi, Alamin Mohammed, Monica Mozere, Rubinder Athwal, Nargis Hemat, Sabrina Skeete, Sonia Fu.
Past undergraduate and summer project students:
BSc3 and Intercalators: Jennifer Kwok, Astraea Hong, Catherine Gaskin, Holly Reichel, Carol Cheng, Lilia Kazemi-Egbunike, Emma Allen, Charlotte Johnson, Isabella Marshall, Jennifer Cooke, Catherine Hincks, Amberley Cooke, Els Hodges, Amir Helmy, Anil Joseph.
BSc2: Astraea Hong, Mariam Khan, Carol Cheng, Shakeela McCrae, Hayley Meekums, Lilia Kazemi-Egbunike, Clare Thomas, Grace Denny, Emily Welby, Clare Parker, Sara Molloy, Lucy Abel, Madeleine Pope, Els Hodges, Lizzie Ellis, Gemma Hawdon, Vicki Duggan.
BVetMed RP2: Michiel Plugge, Alexandra Au, Jennifer Cooke, Katherine Barnes
Summer: Madeleine Stein, Kamina Brown, Samantha Hambleton, Madeleine Pope (Society for Endocrinology funding), Emily Welby (x2; Genetics Society Funding), Jessica Dincer, Liam Henshaw
Visiting students: Sulafa Ahmed, Barbara Solchenberger, Caroline Benoit, Nicole Terbach, Eeva Kuosmanen, Javier Arenzana
Work experience: Hakeem Fagbemi, Jacob Mutton, Joanna Sykes, Olivia Kersey, Charley Davis.
Active collaborations with:
Nestle Institute of Health Sciences: Philip Gut
UCL: Sara Mole, Anselm Zdebik
Sudan Uni: Sami Khalid and Sulafa Ahmed (PhD student)
RVC: Michelangelo Campanella
Current research funding:
BDFA. To generate preliminary data to support a grant proposal to test the efficicay of novel compounds for treating seizures in CLN2 disease. £15,000. June 2018-June 2019.
EU H2020. BATCure: Developing new therapies for Batten Disease. Approx 6m Euro. £75,000 to RVC. Jan 2016- Dec 2018.
Past research funding:
BDFA. To provide funds for a Temporary Technician for the project to perform high-throughput in vitro drug discovery for LINCL Batten disease (CLN2 disease). £14128.50. Principal Applicant.
SPARKS. Applicants: C Russell, M Campanella. Towards understanding the metabolic defect in CLN2 disease. June 2014-June 2016. £214,000. Principal Applicant.
Batten Disease Family Association/ Animal care Trust. Applicant: C Russell. Studies into CLN2 disease using a zebrafish model. Aug 2013-Aug 2014. £1338.44. Principal Applicant.
Royal Society International Exchange. Applicants: C Russell and S Khalid. In vivo screening for anticonvulsant activity of Sudanese medicinal plants. July 2014-July 2016. £5600. Principal Applicant.
Batten Disease Family Association Equipment Grant. Applicant: C Russell, RJ Harvey (SoP). Providing capability for high-throughput in vivo drug discovery for Late Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (CLN2 disease. Aug 2013-Aug 2013. £13000. Principal applicant.
Batten Disease Family Association Research Grant. Applicant: C Russell, RJ Harvey (SoP), K Wager (RVC). Enabling high-throughput in vivo drug discovery for Juvenile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis. May 2011-May 2014. £13761. Principal applicant.
Bloomsbury Consortium (Ph.D. studentship). Applicants: C Russell, RJ Harvey (SoP). Generation of zebrafish models of neurodegeneration. Oct 2010 - Sept 2013. £65,000. Principal applicant.
Genetics Society. Applicant: C Russell, E Welby. A zebrafish model of INCL. 16 May 2011 (summer studentship). £2531. Principal Applicant.
Newlife Small Project Grant. Applicant: C Russell. Nonsense-suppressing drugs as a treatment for a subset of the neuronal ceroid lupofuscinoses. April 2010 - April 2011 (extension requested). £14,920. Principal applicant.
RVC DTG (Ph.D studentship). Applicants: C Russell, I McGonnell (RVC). Development of zebrafish models of neurodegeneration for in vivo drug screening. Sept 2008 - Sept 2011. £65,000. Principal applicant.
Higher Education Academy UK Centre for Bioscience. Applicants: J Gazzard (RVCE), C Russell. Sandwich-filling: A practical guide to learning support during bioscience industrial years. June 2010-June 2011 (1 year, extension requested). £3,840. Project Partner.
Claire is part of the Comparative Physiology & Medicine research programme.
Claire is leader of the Brain Health and Behaviour research special interest group.
Martin-Jimenez R, Faccenda D, Allen E, Reichel HB, Arcos L, Ferraina C, Strobbe D, Russell C, Campanella M. Reduction of the ATPase inhibitory factor 1 (IF1) leads to visual impairment in vertebrates. Cell Death Dis. 2018;9(6):669. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41419-018-0578-x
Outtandy P, Russell C, Kleta R, Bockenhauer D. Zebrafish as a model for kidney function and disease. Pediatr Nephrol. 2018. DOI: 10.1007/s00467-018-3921-7
Wager K, Zdebik AA, Fu S, Cooper JD, Harvey RJ, Russell C. Neurodegeneration and Epilepsy in a Zebrafish Model of CLN3 Disease (Batten Disease). PLoS One. 2016;11(6):e0157365. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0157365
Matic I, Cocco S, Ferraina C, Martin-Jimenez R, Florenzano F, Crosby J, Lupi R, Amadoro G, Russell C, Pignataro G, Annunziato L, Abramov AY, Campanella M. Neuroprotective coordination of cell mitophagy by the ATPase Inhibitory Factor 1. Pharmacol Res. 2016;103:56-68. DOI: 10.1016/j.phrs.2015.10.010
Solchenberger B, Russell C, Kremmer E, Haass C, Schmid B. Granulin knock out zebrafish lack frontotemporal lobar degeneration and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis pathology. PLoS One. 2015;10(3):e0118956. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0118956
Martin-Jimenez, R, Campanella M, Russell C. (2015) New Zebrafish Models of Neurodegeneration. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports 15: 33 doi: 10.1007/s11910-015-0555-z. Review
Wager K, Mahmood F, Russell C. (2014) Modelling inborn errors of metabolism in zebrafish. The Journal of Inherited metabolic Disease, Online First, DOI 10.1007/s10545-014-9696-5. Review
Ivanes F, Faccenda D,Gatliff J, Ahmed AA, Cocco S, Cheng CHK, Allan E, Russell C, Duchen MR, and Campanella M (2014). The compound BTB06584 is an IF1-dependent selective inhibitor of the mitochondrial F1Fo-ATPase. British Journal of Pharmacology. Advance Online Publication. doi: 10.1111/bph.12638
Zdebik AA, Mahmood F, Stanescu HC, Kleta R, Bockenhauer D, Russell C. (2013) Epilepsy in kcnj10 Morphant Zebrafish Assessed with a Novel Method for Long-Term EEG Recordings. PLoS ONE 8(11):e79765. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079765
Wager K, Russell C (2013) Mitophagy and neurodegeneration: the zebrafish model system. Autophagy 9(11):1693-709. doi: 10.4161/auto.25082. Epub 2013 Aug 8 Review
BOND, M., KLEINE HOLTHAUS, SM., TAMMEN, I., TEAR, G., RUSSELL, C. 2013. 'Use of model organisms for the study of Neuronal Ceroid Lipofusconosis' Biochin Biophys Acta, Epub ahead of print dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2013.01.009
Mahmood F, Fu S, Cooke J, Wilson SW, Cooper JD, Russell C (2013) A zebrafish model of CLN2 disease is deficient in tripeptidyl peptidase 1 and displays progressive neurodegeneration accompanied by a reduction in proliferation. Brain, 136; 1488-1507 doi: 10.1093/brain/awt043. Epub 2013 Apr 15.
Fahad Mahmood, Monika Mozere, Anselm A. Zdebik, Horia C. Stanescu, Jonathan Tobin, Philip L. Beales, Robert Kleta, Detlef Bockenhauer and Claire Russell 'Generation and validation of a zebrafish model of EAST (epilepsy, ataxia, sensorineural deafness and
tubulopathy) syndrome' Disease Models & Mechanisms 6, 000-000 (2013) doi:10.1242/dmm.009480 dmm.biologists.org/content/early/2013/02/14/dmm.009480.full.pdf+html
COOPER, JD*, MOLE, SE, RUSSELL, C,* TYYNELA, J.** (2011) ‘Small animal models of NCL’ in ‘The Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses (Batten Disease)’, 2nd Edition, Ed. SE Mole, RE Williams and HH Goebel. IOS Press. Review. *joint corresponding authors; **authors are listed in alphabetical order for each chapter
BRENNAN, C., DOSCH, R., HARAMIS, A.P., LUCKENBACH, T., MARTINEZ-MORALES, J.R., MORO, E., POLOK, B., RAMESH, T.M., RUSSELL, C., ARGENTON, F., STRÄHLE, U. (2010) Report of the European Zebrafish Principal Investigator Meeting in Padua, Italy, March 2010. Zebrafish 7, 305-310. PMID: 20874494
REGAN, J.C., CONCHA, M.L., ROUSSIGNE, M., RUSSELL, C.*, WILSON, S.W*. (2009) An Fgf8- dependent bistable cell migratory event establishes CNS asymmetry. Neuron 15: 27-34 *joint corresponding authors (Recommended in Faculty of 1000)
PubMed ID 19146810
BIANCO, I. H., CARL, M., RUSSELL, C., CLARKE, J. D. & WILSON, S. W. (2008) Brain asymmetry is encoded at the level of axon terminal morphology. Neural Develop 3, 9. PubMed ID 18377638
COOPER, J. D., RUSSELL, C. & MITCHISON, H. M. (2006) Progress towards understanding disease mechanisms in small vertebrate models of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis. Biochim Biophys Acta 1762, 873-889. PubMed ID 17023146
NORTON, W. H., MANGOLI, M., LELE, Z., POGODA, H. M., DIAMOND, B., MERCURIO, S., RUSSELL, C., TERAOKA, H., STICKNEY, H. L., RAUCH, G. J., HEISENBERG, C. P., HOUART, C., SCHILLING, T. F., FROHNHOEFER, H. G., RASTEGAR, S., NEUMANN, C. J., GARDINER, R. M., STRAHLE, U., GEISLER, R., REES, M., TALBOT, W. S. & WILSON, S. W. (2005) Monorail/Foxa2 regulates floorplate differentiation and specification of oligodendrocytes, serotonergic raphe neurones and cranial motoneurones. Development 132, 645-658. PubMed ID 15677724
AIZAWA, H., BIANCO, I. H., HAMAOKA, T., MIYASHITA, T., UEMURA, O., CONCHA, M. L., RUSSELL, C., WILSON, S. W. & OKAMOTO, H. (2005) Laterotopic representation of left-right information onto the dorso-ventral axis of a zebrafish midbrain target nucleus. Curr Biol 15, 238-243. PubMed ID 15694307
TERAOKA, H., RUSSELL, C., REGAN, J., CHANDRASEKHAR, A., CONCHA, M. L., YOKOYAMA, R., HIGASHI, K., TAKE-UCHI, M., DONG, W., HIRAGA, T., HOLDER, N. & WILSON, S. W. (2004) Hedgehog and Fgf signaling pathways regulate the development of tphR-expressing serotonergic raphe neurons in zebrafish embryos. J Neurobiol 60, 275-288. PubMed ID 15281067
PAUKERT, M., SIDI, S., RUSSELL, C., SIBA, M., WILSON, S. W., NICOLSON, T. & GRUNDER, S. (2004) A family of acid-sensing ion channels from the zebrafish: widespread expression in the central nervous system suggests a conserved role in neuronal communication. J Biol Chem 279, 18783-18791. PubMed ID 14970195
RUSSELL, C. (2003) The roles of Hedgehogs and Fibroblast Growth Factors in eye development and retinal cell rescue. Vision Res 43, 899-912. PubMed ID 12668059
CONCHA, M. L., RUSSELL, C., REGAN, J. C., TAWK, M., SIDI, S., GILMOUR, D. T., KAPSIMALI, M., SUMOY, L., GOLDSTONE, K., AMAYA, E., KIMELMAN, D., NICOLSON, T., GRUNDER, S., GOMPERTS, M., CLARKE, J. D. & WILSON, S. W. (2003) Local tissue interactions across the dorsal midline of the forebrain establish CNS laterality. Neuron 39, 423-438. PubMed ID 12895418
CONCHA, M. L., BURDINE, R. D., RUSSELL, C., SCHIER, A. F. & WILSON, S. W. (2000) A nodal signaling pathway regulates the laterality of neuroanatomical asymmetries in the zebrafish forebrain. Neuron 28, 399-409. PubMed ID 11144351
KIDD, T., RUSSELL, C., GOODMAN, C. S. & TEAR, G. (1998) Dosage-sensitive and complementary functions of roundabout and commissureless control axon crossing of the CNS midline. Neuron 20, 25-33. PubMed ID 9459439
DOYLE, W. A., BURKE, J. F., CHOVNICK, A., DUTTON, F. L., RUSSELL, C., WHITTLE, J. R. & BRAY, R. C. (1996) Engineering and expression in Drosophila melanogaster of a xanthine dehydrogenase (rosy) variant. Biochem Soc Trans 24, 31S. PubMed ID 8674698
WIAND 2018 (FLY-SMALS workshop), Lisbon, 2018. 'In vivo drug discovery identifies a compound that reduces seizure-like activity in the zebrafish model of CLN2 disease'.
FishMed2018, Warsaw, 2018. 'Generation and validation of zebrafish models of neurodegeneration and epilepsy: uses in drug discovery'.
EZM2017, European Zebrafish Meeting, Budapest, 2017. 'In vivo drug discovery identifies a compound that reduces seizure-like activity in the zebrafish model of CLN2 disease ?'.
EZM2015, European Zebrafish Meeting, Oslo, 2015. 'Valproic Acid Attenuates Seizures And Extends Lifespan Of The Zebrafish Model Of CLN2 Disease (Late Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis)'.
Claire is committed to providing excellence in teaching plus valuable learning opportunities for students, not only leading to deeper knowledge and understanding, but also preparing students for the workplace. She has a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (from KCL) and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Claire teaches Developmental Biology on the Gateway/BSc BioSciences 1 core module and in the Development and Disease Module for 3rd Year BSc BioSciences. Claire also provides topics for BVetMed 1 and 2 Integrated Cocepts. Claire supervises library and laboratory projects for all years of BSc BioSciences, Gateway and BVetMed. Claire is also the BSc Bioveterinary Sciences 1 skills workshop coordinator and tutors 1st and 2nd Year BSc BioSciences and BVetMed students.
Claire is the Placement Year Co-ordinator, and as such is in charge of the Certificate in Work-based Learning and Research (CWBLR) course that is available to all BSc BioSciences and BVetMed students, as well as the placement associated with the MSci Applied Biological/Bioveterinary Research. The CWBLR course will allow students to take a sandwich year and do a placement working in any aspect of industry or research relevant to the Biosciences.
Claire is developing links with the pharmaceutical and biotech industry to faciliate placement opportunities and welcomes approaches from industry. Please contact Claire if you are interested in providing a placement.
Member of LiDo PhD 3i Committee (CASE PhDs and PIPS)
Member of UG Biosciences Course Management Committee
Module leader BSc1/Gateway Development
Year leader Certificate in Work-based Learning and Research
Year Leader MSci applied Biol/BiovetSci Research year 4
Claire is developing a school outreach program and is keen for schools to get in touch to discuss opportunities. Claire is CRB checked in Camden and is a trained Researcher in Residence.
Claire can bring basic science into your classroom in several ways:
discuss the use of animals in research; providing biological samples to examine; experimental design; performing experiments; data analysis; problem solving; as a role model; to describe university life
Claire has hosted the following work experience students: Joanna Sykes (Buller's Wood School), Olivia Kersey (Sydenham School) , Charley Davis (Buller's Wood School), Hakeen Fagbemi (Forest Hill School) and Jacob Mutton (Forest Hill School).
Claire spoke about working with animals at Syndenham School and SFH6 in 2017.
Claire was an invited speaker at a fundraiser for SPARKS in 2016.
Having participated in the organisation of two conferences (NCL2012 and NCL2018) with a significant outreach component with many novel features, Claire can provide advice on similar activities.