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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience



Clare’s undergraduate degree was in Biological Sciences at Oxford in 2005. During her PhD she developed models of myelination in zebrafish with Robin Franklin and DanioLabs at Cambridge in 2009. She became obsessed with apicobasal polarity and epithelial tubes during her postdoc with Jon Clarke at KCL and hooked on optogenetics during a visiting scholarship to Orion Weiner’s laboratory at UCSF. She started her lab at Cambridge with a RS Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship and is now a WT/RS Sir Henry Dale Fellow. Her lab uses optogenetics and live confocal imaging to study cell polarity during organ development and disruption.


My lab studies the fundamental cell biology of neural tube development using optogenetic and advanced live imaging approaches in vivo, within in the zebrafish hindbrain. We aim to uncover the mechanisms that coordinate apico-basal polarisation and morphogenesis during secondary-like neurulation. In addition, we use in vitro multicellular mouse embryonic stem cell (mESC) culture to compare the mechanisms of de novo polarisation in an alternate, non-neural epithelial context. Through this work, we hope to unravel parallel mechanisms of epithelial tube development and disease, with relevance to secondary neural tube defects, polarity-related epithelial diseases such as carcinoma and bioengineering.


Twitter @LabBuckley


Lab Members

Xuan Liang (Leverhulme postdoctoral research fellow)

Sarah Williams (postdoctoral research assistant)

Chun Yuan Hii (research assistant)

Helena Crellin (PhD student)

Millie Race (PhD student)

Zhizhi Liu (visiting scholar)

Past lab members

Buffy Eldridge-Thomas (Wellcome Trust PhD rotation student)

Adelaide Yue (Part II student)

Alex Fleet (Part II student)

Oscar Peña (postdoc)


Key publications: 

Buckley, C.E., St Johnston, D. Apical–basal polarity and the control of epithelial form and function. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol (2022). 

Liang X, Weberling A, Hii C-Y, Zernicka-Goetz M, Buckley CE (2022) Cadherin mediated AMIS localisation.  (BioRxiv

Symonds ACE1, Buckley CE1, Williams C, and Clarke JDW. Coordinated assembly and release of adhesions builds apical junctional belts during de novo polarisation of an epithelial tubeDevelopment 2020 147:dev191494 corresponding authors 1Equal contribution

Buckley C.E. (2019) Optogenetic Control of Subcellular Protein Location and Signaling in Vertebrate Embryos. In: Pelegri F. (eds) Vertebrate Embryogenesis. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 1920. Humana Press, New York, NY

Buckley CE, Moore RE, Reade A, Goldberg AR, Weiner OD and Clarke JDW. Reversible Optogenetic Control of Subcellular Protein Localization in a Live Vertebrate Embryo. Dev Cell (2016) Jan 11:36(1): 117-26

Buckley CE and Clarke JDW. Establishing the plane of symmetry for lumen formation and bilateral brain formation in the zebrafish neural rod. Semin Cell Dev Biol. (2014) Jul;31: 100-5

Buckley CE, Ren X, Ward LC, Girdler GC, Araya C, Green MJ, Clark BS, Link BA and Clarke JDW. Mirror-symmetric microtubule assembly and cell interactions drive lumen formation in the zebrafish neural rod. EMBO J. (2013) Jan 9;32(1): 30-44

Buckley CE, Marguerie A, Roach AG, Goldsmith P, Fleming A, Alderton WK and Franklin RJM. Drug reprofiling using zebrafish identifies novel compounds with potential pro-myelination effects. Neuropharmacology (2010) Sep;59(3):149-59

Buckley CE, Marguerie A, Alderton WK and Franklin RJM. Temporal Dynamics of Myelination in the Zebrafish Spinal Cord. GLIA (2010) 58:802–812.

Buckley CE, Goldsmith P and Franklin RJM. Zebrafish Myelination: A Transparent Model for Remyelination? DMM (2008) 1: 221-228

Teaching and Supervisions


NST II N1 & P6 lecturer and supervisor

MVST IB Neurobiology & Human or Animal Behaviour demonstrator

Academic Associate, Pembroke College

Sir Henry Dale Fellow
Picture of Dr Clare Buckley

Contact Details

+44 (0) 1223 3 33766
Email address: