Re-directing you to our new website

Research Focus 
We are interested in understanding how the fly brain develops and functions, as a model for the human brain in health and in disease. We are focusing on elucidating the role of post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in neural stem cell (neuroblast) development and their differentiation into neurons, as well as in synaptic plasticity during memory and learning. These mechanisms include mRNA transport and localised translation, as well as mRNA stability and processing.

Keywords:  mRNA, Neuronal development, Neural stem cells, Drosophila, live cell imaging,  synaptic plasticity, neuromuscular junction, brain, neurons, memory, learning, neuromuscular diseases.

Watching RNAs localise
We use fluorescent proteins to track the movement of RNA through Drosophila, the animal system that we use in the lab. This video shows in-vitro transcribed, gurken RNA localising to the dorsal-anterior corner of a stage 8 Drosophila egg chamber after injection. 
Video by Kirsty Gill and Richard Parton
3-D imaging of muscles and neurons
This is a 3-dimensional image of a Drosophila larva, showing the muscle wall and its associated neurons. The red part of the image is a neuron, while the blue circular structures are muscle cell nuclei.
Video by Lu Yang


 Synaptic Plasticity

Early Patterning


Davis Lab Members

Alongside my own research lab, I am also the Director of Micron, a collaborative, multidisciplinary bioimaging unit. Micron works with biomedical researchers across Oxford and beyond to apply advanced cellular imaging techniques to address key biological questions. More details can be found on the Micron website.

How the brain develops and functions is one of the most important and fundamental questions in biology and medicine. The brain forms from a limited neural stem cells that gives rise to a huge number and diversity of neurons. Once neurons connect up to each other via synapses to form a functional brain, memory and learning occur by modifying these connections through a process known as synaptic plasticity. 
Our lab is using flies as a highly tractable model system to understand the molecular basis of these processes. We are investigating how gene expression regulates neural stem cell biology and synaptic plasticity. More specifically, we are focusing on how  messenger RNAs, which contain copies of the genetic information stored in DNA, are regulated by their localisation and stability, processes known to be important in neurodegenerative diseases.

Selected Recent Publications                            
  1. Davidson A, Parton RM, Rabouille C, Weil TT, Davis I. (2016) Localized Translation of gurken/TGF-α mRNA during Axis Specification Is Controlled by Access to Orb/CPEB on Processing Bodies. Cell Rep. 14, 1-12.  pii: S2211-1247(16)30141-3. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.02.038 pdf
  2. York-Andersen AM, Parton RM, Bi CJ, Bromley CL, Davis I, Weil TT.(2015) A single and rapid calcium wave at egg activation in Drosophila. Biol Open. (2015) 4(4):553-560.
    pii: BIO201411296. doi: 10.1242/bio.201411296.pdf
  3. Parton RM, Davidson A, Davis I, Weil TT. (2014) Subcellular localisation at a glance. J. Cell Sci. 127(Pt 10):2127-33 pdf
  4. Halstead JM, Lin YQ, Durraine L, Hamilton RS, Ball G, Neely GG, Bellen HJ, Davis I. (2014) Syncrip/hnRNP Q influences synaptic transmission and regulates BMP signaling at the Drosophila neuromuscular synapse. Biol Open. 3(9):839-49. pdf

  5. McDermott SM, Yang L, Halstead JM, Hamilton RS, Meignin C, Davis I. (2014) Drosophila Syncrip modulates the expression of mRNAs encoding key synaptic proteins required for morphology at the neuromuscular junction. RNA. 2014 Oct;20(10):1593-606 pdf

We welcome informal enquiries from prospective Post-Doc (email darragh.ennis@bioch.ox.ac.uk) and PhD students (click here)



Major Funding Sources
Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship  Until 2017
Wellcome Trust Strategic Award: Advanced Imaging for Chromosome and RNA Dynamics (Micron) Until 2021