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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience



Clare received her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford. Her PhD in Neuroscience was from the laboratory of Robin Franklin at the University of Cambridge in collaboration with a small biotechnology company, Summit Plc. (previously DanioLabs). Clare carried out her postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Jon Clarke at King’s College London, during which time she held a short-term EMBO fellowship at Orion Weiner’s laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco to adapt the Phytochrome optogenetics system for use in zebrafish. She started her lab at the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge with a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship and is now a Sir Henry Dale Fellow.


My lab uses optogenetic and live confocal imaging within the zebrafish neural tube to test the role of cell polarity in building epithelial integrity during organ development and in breaking it during disease.

In combination with high resolution in vivo imaging, we use a new optogenetic approach to directly manipulate the polarity, signalling and division of single cells within the developing zebrafish brain. Along with CRISPR-mediated functional knock down experiments, this allows us to explore how cell polarity and division are linked during development such that cells can divide without disrupting the strict organization of the tissue. We are also testing the role of polarity dysregulation in tissue disruption by optogenetically manipulating polarity-linked signalling pathways (such as the PI3K pathway) in the already established zebrafish neural tube epithelium.

We hope to unravel parallel mechanisms of epithelial development and disease in vivo.


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: 

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 lecturer and supervisor

MVST IB Neurobiology & Human or Animal Behaviour demonstrator

Academic Associate, Pembroke College

Sir Henry Dale Fellow
Dr Clare   Buckley

Contact Details

+44 (0) 1223 3 33766
Email address: