Andrea Brand

Head of Wellcome laboratories

Research summary

Time to wake up: regulation of stem cell quiescence and proliferation

Stem cell populations in tissues as varied as blood, gut and brain spend much of their time in a mitotically dormant, quiescent, state. A key point of regulation is the decision between quiescence and proliferation. The ability to reactivate neural stem cells in situ raises the prospect of potential future therapies for brain repair after damage or neurodegenerative disease. Understanding the molecular basis for stem cell reactivation is an essential first step in this quest.

Expand summary

In Drosophila, quiescent neural stem cells are easily identifiable and amenable to genetic manipulation, making them a powerful model with which to study the transition between quiescence and proliferation. These stem cells exit quiescence in response to a nutrition-dependent signal from the fat body, a tissue that plays a key role in the regulation of metabolism and growth.

My lab combines cutting-edge genetic and molecular approaches with advanced imaging techniques to study the reactivation of Drosophila neural stem cells in vivo. This enables us to deduce the sequence of events from the level of the organism, to the tissue, the cell, and finally the genome.

Fluorescence microscopy of section through a human cerebral organoid, from the Brand lab.

A section through a human cerebral organoid showing neural stem cells in purple; nuclei of all cells are labelled in green.

Andrea Brand colour portrait

Selected publications

  • Agrawal N et al. (2021) Predicting novel candidate human obesity genes and their site of action by systematic functional screening in Drosophila.  PLoS Biol 19(11):e3001255. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001255.

    November 8, 2021

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  • Díaz-Torres A et al (2021) Stem cell niche organization in the Drosophila ovary requires the ECM component Perlecan. Curr Biol 31(8):1744-1753.e5. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.01.071.

    February 22, 2021

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  • Hakes AE & Brand AH (2020) Tailless/TLX reverts intermediate neural progenitors to stem cells driving tumourigenesis via repression of asense/ ASCL1. Elife 9:e53377. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.53377.

    February 19, 2020

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  • Otsuki L & Brand AH (2019) Dorsal-ventral differences in neural stem cell quiescence are induced by p57KIP2/Dacapo. Dev Cell 49(2): 293-300.e3. DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2019.02.015.

    March 21, 2019

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  • Otsuki L & Brand AH (2018) Cell cycle heterogeneity directs the timing of neural stem cell activation from quiescence. Science 360: 99–102. DOI: 10.1126/science.aan8795.

    April 6, 2018

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  • Cheetham SW & Brand AH (2018) RNA-DamID reveals cell-type-specific binding of roX RNAs at chromatin-entry sites. Nat Struct Mol Biol 25:109–114. DOI: 10.1038/s41594-017-0006-4.

    December 18, 2017

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Prof Andrea Brand PhD FRS FMedSci
Head of Institute’s Wellcome laboratories, Wellcome Senior Investigator, Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Biology, Royal Society Darwin Trust Research Professor, Member of the University Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Research group

  • Catherine Davidson

    Research Associate

  • Bernardo Delarue Bizzini

    PhD Student

  • Cian Doherty

    PhD Student

  • Dr Alex Donovan

    Research Associate

  • Laura Gherghina

    PhD Student

  • Anna Malkowska

    PhD Student

  • Jocelyn Tang

    Research Assistant

  • Nemira Zilinskaite

    PhD Student