Project Title:  Functional and molecular signatures of synaptic vulnerability in early Alzheimer’s Disease

Supervisors: Dr Samuel Barnes and Dr Johanna Jackson
Location: Burlington Danes Building, Hammersmith Campus 

About Me

I am a PhD student at the UK Dementia Research Institute Centre at Imperial, based in the Department of Brain Sciences, investigating functional and neuropathological changes occurring at early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

After finishing my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Molecular biology I moved to Imperial College London to undertake an MSc in Translational Neuroscience. Here, I developed an interest in mechanisms of brain plasticity and I conducted a research project investigating the effects of ageing in sensory-driven homeostatic plasticity responses. Following this experience, I decided to continue my research in Dr Samuel Barnes’ lab by embarking on a PhD.


-Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – University of the Basque Country

-MSc Translational Neuroscience (Faculty of Medicine Dean’s Prize) – Imperial College London

Research Interests

I am interested in understanding the cellular and molecular processes that underlie cognition, and how these are affected in the context of ageing and neurodegenerative disorders. Within this topic, my current research focuses on characterizing the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Synapse loss represents the best neuropathological correlate of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease; yet the factors that make synapses in specific brain regions vulnerable to degeneration are still largely unknown. To address this issue, my project combines techniques ranging from in vivo functional imaging to synaptic protein characterization, aiming to identify both the synaptic activity patterns and the underlying molecular features that confer synaptic vulnerability.


Melgosa-Ecenarro L, Doostdar N, Radulescu CI, Jackson JS, Barnes SJ. Pinpointing the locus of GABAergic vulnerability in Alzheimer's disease. Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2022 Aug 10:S1084-9521(22)00229-4. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2022.06.017. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35963663.

Doostdar N, Airey J, Radulescu CI, Melgosa-Ecenarro L, Zabouri N, Pavlidi P, Kopanitsa M, Saito T, Saido T, Barnes SJ. Multi-scale network imaging in a mouse model of amyloidosis. Cell Calcium. 2021 May;95:102365. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2021.102365. Epub 2021 Feb 11. PMID: 33610083.

Contact Details

LinkedIn: leire-melgosa-ecenarro