All Group Leaders 

Neural circuit assembly and brain disorders

Beatriz Rico

Beatriz Rico

Professor of Developmental Neurobiology

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The function of neural networks in the cerebral cortex relies on the interaction between excitatory and inhibitory neurons, but the mechanisms controlling their wiring into specific circuits remain largely unknown. Unravelling the mechanisms underlying the formation of neuronal networks in the cortex is not only a major scientific challenge, but also has important implications in mental health. Increasing evidences suggest that there is a malfunction of inhibitory neurons in many neurodevelopmental disorders, and therefore understanding how cortical networks assemble during development will help to produce new treatments for these devastating disorders.

Our goal in the lab is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling the development and maturation of neural networks in health and disease. In the context of the new MRC Centre we have established collaborations with our clinician colleagues to engineer animal models for relevant genes linked to autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia to investigate the excitatory/inhibitory in specific cortical circuits. This will allow us to identify new possible targets for the development of alternative pharmacological therapies.

Selected publications

Navarro AI, Rico B (2014) Focal adhesion kinase function in neuronal development. Curr Opin Neurobiol 27: 89-95

Marín O, Rico B (2013) A new beginning for a broken mind: balancing neuregulin 1 reverses synaptic dysfunction. Neuron 78: 577-9

Chacón MR, Navarro AI, Cuesto G, del Pino I, Scott R, Morales M, Rico B (2012) Focal adhesion kinase regulates actin nucleation and neuronal filopodia formation during axonal growth. Development 139: 3200-10
Rico B, Marín O (2011) Neuregulin signaling, cortical circuitry development and schizophrenia. Curr Opin Genet Dev 21: 262-70

Valiente M, Ciceri G, Rico B, Marín O (2011) Focal adhesion kinase modulates radial glia-dependent neuronal migration through connexin-26. J Neurosci 31: 11678-91

Chacón MR, Fernández G, Rico B (2010) Focal adhesion kinase functions downstream of Sema3A signaling during axonal remodeling. Mol Cell Neurosci 44: 30-42