Richard Ribchester


Professor Richard Ribchester
Professor of Cellular Neuroscience
School of Biomedical Sciences
Tel: +44(0) 131 650 3256





Research Interests
Neuromuscular synaptic functions in health and disease
I study the physiological mechanisms and functions of synapses in health, after injury and in neurodegenerative disease, using neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) as an accessible paradigm. Neuromuscular synapses degenerate naturally, by a process of controlled elimination during development or regeneration; they are also the first components of a motor axon to degenerate after nerve injury; and the first structures to disconnect from motor neurones in several forms of Motor Neurone Disease. I combine electrophysiological techniques and imaging to find out how these different forms of synaptic degeneration are triggered and executed. I also investigate the mechanisms that control synaptic strength, in order identify potential ways for enhancing compensatory physiological functions of synapses: including gene-mutations, drugs or patterns of neuromuscular activity. I have also pioneered use of a live imaging technique, fibre-optic confocal microendoscopy (CME), for identifying potential neuroprotective gene mutations. I envisage that CME may be extended as a tool for early detection and monitoring of neurodegenerative disease. Recent new avenues of research include investigation of genetic determination of synaptic strength, using larval Drosophila NMJ as a model synapse; and the mechanisms of action of organophosphate pesticides on synaptic transmission at NMJ. This research has relevance not only to understanding, diagnosis and treatment of motor neurone diseases like ALS but other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, as well.
Other information: Delys Prize; "Nutshell" video.

Key Publications
Brown R, Hynes-Allen A, Swan AJ, Dissanayake KN, Gillingwater TH and Ribchester RR. (2015) Activity-dependent degeneration of axotomized neuromuscular synapses in WldS mice. Neuroscience. 290:300-320.
Brown R, Dissanayake KN, Skehel PA and Ribchester RR. (2014) Endomicroscopy and electromyography of neuromuscular junctions in situ. Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 1:867-83. 

Hirst, T, Ribchester, RR. (2013) Segmentation of the mouse fourth deep lumbrical muscle connectome reveals concentric organization of motor units. J Physiol. 591:4859-75.
Teriakidis A, Willshaw DJ, Ribchester RR. (2012) Prevalence and elimination of sibling neurite convergence in motor units supplying neonatal and adult mouse skeletal muscle. J Comp Neurol. Oct 1;520(14):3203-16.
Wong F, Fan L, Wells S, Hartley R, Mackenzie FE, Oyebode O, Brown R, Thomson D, Coleman MP, Blanco G, Ribchester RR. (2009) Axonal and neuromuscular synaptic phenotypes in Wld(S), SOD1(G93A) and ostes mutant mice identified by fiber-optic  confocal microendoscopy. Mol Cell Neurosci. Dec; 42(4):296-307
Mack TG, Reiner M, Beirowski B, Mi W, Emanuelli M, Wagner D, Thomson D. Gillingwater T, Court F, Conforti L, Fernando FS, Tarlton A, Andressen C, Addicks K, Magni G, Ribchester RR, Perry VH, Coleman MP.  (2001) Wallerian degeneration of injured axons and synapses is delayed by a Ube4b/Nmnat chimeric gene. Nat Neurosci. Dec;4(12):1199-206.
Costanzo EM, Barry JA, Ribchester RR. (2000) Competition at silent synapses in reinnervated skeletal muscle. Nat Neurosci. Jul;3(7):694-700.