School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Dr Marina Ezcurra


Lecturer in Neurobiology, Nanchang Joint Programme

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 5704
Room Number: Room 3.12, Fogg building


Marina Ezcurra received her PhD from the Karolinska Institute in 2011. Her PhD research was a collaborative project between Karolinska and MRC-LMB, Cambridge, and she studied neural circuits and behavior using C. elegans in Bill Schafer’s group. During her PhD, Marina Ezcurra identified extrasynaptic mechanisms by which nutritional status modulates nociception, involving neuropeptidergic and dopaminergic signaling. She went on to do a postdoc working on ageing with David Gems at University College London. During her postdoc, Marina Ezcurra developed methods to monitor the development of multiple age-related diseases in vivo in C. elegans, leading to the discovery of a previously unknown process, Intestinal Biomass Conversion. This mechanism enables the C. elegans intestine to be broken down to produce vast amounts of yolk, resulting in polymorbidity and mortality in ageing nematodes. This work illustrates how ageing and age-related diseases can be the result of run-on of wildtype gene function rather than stochastic molecular damage.

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Fundamentals of Neurobiology (Nanchang Joint Program)


Research Interests:

For full information Marina's work, visit her research website:

Genomic approaches are greatly advancing our knowledge of the human microbiome and its role in health and disease states. It is becoming clear that the composition of the microbiota varies greatly between individuals, contributes to many diseases and plays an active role in human health. A number of recent studies have shown that the gut microbiota modulates important aspects of human physiology, including the ageing process and the myriad of associated diseases, and also the gut-brain-axis, resulting in effects on neural chemistry, behaviors, psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. Thus, the microbiota presents an avenue to target novel treatments to a number of diseases and to modulate brain plasticity and cognitive function during ageing. 

Due to the inherent complexity and heterogeneity of the human microbiome this complex relationship between the host and its microbiota is very difficult to disentangle in mammalian systems. I am combining two strong model organisms, the nematode C. elegans and the bacterium E. coli, to identify the microbial and host pathways underlying microbiome effects on the gut-brain axis during ageing. The combination of these two model offers an exceptional experimental model that allows the systematic manipulation of the host and its microbiota, and the use of all the tools these models offer to gain mechanistic insight into microbiome effects on host physiology.