Robbie Hussain

Research Interests

I am primarily interested in the evolution of the nervous system of animals. Specifically, the origins of the nervous system, neural circuits and neurons, and how changes in the genome and gene expression affects the development and formation of animal nervous systems. More broadly, I am also interested in phylogenetics, the evolution of gene regulatory networks, transcriptomics and comparative neuroanatomy. My DPhil project will focus on looking at the evolution of RNA binding protein (RBP) regulation of neural development. I will investigate the evolutionary history of RBPs, essential components of the post-transcriptional regulatory network, in the developing nervous system of the brook lamprey. This project will seek to answer the questions – what is the RBP complement of lampreys and by extension the last vertebrate common ancestor; and how has RBP regulation of neural progenitor cells changed over the course of vertebrate evolution? It will help with investigations into post-transcriptional gene regulatory network evolution by providing useful data on a less-studied organism, as well as give some insights into whether vertebrate neural development really is evolutionarily conserved.

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