Once again, the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology co-organised an event in the context of Brain Awareness Week, together with the Cosy Science team. Brain Awareness Week is organised globally to increase awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. This initiative has been founded by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and European Dana Alliance for the Brain.
A keen audience gathered for an exciting talk from Dr Darren Williams, who explained his neurodevelopment research in the fruit fly. Darren and his team investigate brain cell division by creating ‘zombie neurons’, brain cells that usually die during normal brain development are kept alive instead. Darren’s team fluorescently marks these zombie neurons and tracks their function. We learnt interesting facts about neurodevelopment but also about the fruit fly: Did you know that these flies can survive an entire day without their head? Darren’s research so far has significantly contributed to the understanding of neurodevelopment. He also hopes that his zombie neurons will one day contribute to a better understanding of diseases such as schizophrenia.
Darren’s talk about zombie neurons was a very special Cosy Science evening as Darren is not only an excellent scientist but also an outstanding entertainer. He managed to keep the entire audience interested by explaining brain cell division using balloons (he is a real artist!). To top his artistic performance, he even brought his ukulele, and performed one of his own geeky songs!
Following his talk, Darren was bombarded with questions. The lively discussion included questions about the fly brain versus human brain, cell death in brains generally and how this research could help to cure diseases. Darren did an amazing job answering the variety of questions from our audience.
This event was supported by a King’s College London Public Engagment Small Grant.
By Nathalie Bradley-Schmieg, Cosy Science