Dr James Poulter

Dr James Poulter


I am a UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and University Academic Fellow in Molecular Neuroscience, with an interest in genetic neurodevelopmental disorders. I use a range of start of the art techniques including Next Generation Sequencing, CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, stem cell differentiation and structural analyses to study the effects of mutations on the function of the encoded protein. In particular, I am interested in the mTOR signalling pathway and D-type Cyclins and their role in the development of the cerebral cortex. I have strong collaborations with the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITranN), the Astbury Centre for Structural and Molecular Biology (University of Leeds) and a member of the Leeds Centre for Disease Modelling.

Professional activities

STEM Ambassador (2015 – present)

Editorial Board Member for ‘The Biologist’ (Royal Society of Biology)


Competitive fully funded PhD scholarships are available within the Faculty Graduate School. Self-funded students are always welcomed to apply for postgraduate study. International students must meet the entry requirements for English. Bench fees are required. Please email J.A.Poulter@leeds.ac.uk for informal enquiries.

Research interests

The development of the human brain is a highly orchestrated event, requiring a precise series of molecular events to occur at the correct time and location. The mTOR signalling pathway is one of the pathways responsible for orchestrating early brain development, in particular, the cerebral cortex. A failure of this pathway leads to the PIK3CA-related overgrowth syndromes (PROS), which encompass a range of disorders such as Tuberous Sclerosis and Epilepsy (focal cortical dysplasia type 2), that are characterised by over-activation of the mTOR signalling pathway. Using a range of techniques including CRISPR/Cas9 and the growth of cortical/cerebral organoids, I create and characterise models of these disorders in order to better understand neurodevelopment with an aim to identify therapeutics.

Furthermore, in collaboration with the Astbury Centre for Structural and Molecular Biology, we produce purified proteins of interest to model the effect of mutations on their biophysical stability and their ability to function, using techniques such as Surface Plasmon Resonance. As well as functional studies, we use whole exome sequencing to identify mutations in families with neurodevelopmental disorders which are then assessed for pathogenicity using biochemical and cellular assays.


  • PhD
  • BSc (Hons)

Professional memberships

  • The Royal Society of Biology (MRSB)
  • The British Neuroscience Association
  • The European Neuroscience Association
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Association

Student education

Genetics in Medicine (MBChB, Year 2)

Human Molecular Genetics (MSc, Molecular Medicine)

Research Informatics and Dissemination (MSc, Molecular Medicine)

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Medical Research at St James's
  • Rare Diseases & Genetics
  • Molecular Genetics Research Group
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>