The Mehta Family Centre for Engineering in Medicine

Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

MFCEM Dialogues Series#3


Prof Noel Buckley

The third event of the MFCEM Dialogues was held on the 28th April 2022 over a Zoom online discussion with Noel Buckley, Professor of Neurobiology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford. Prof Buckley’s research interest lies in understanding gene networks in neuronal development and disease. His research focuses on understanding how neuronal phenotype emerges from interactions among genes of a network, and how these networks vary across individuals.

In his talk entitled: Using Deep Learning to Distinguish Neurodegenerative Phenotypes: teaching an old dog new tricks, Prof Buckley shared some of the recent exciting developments from his lab.

Prof Buckley at the onset pressed upon the importance and urgency to better understand the many progressive and near irreversible neurological disorders, which are predicted to increase to 153 million cases by 2030 from the current 57 million. He further emphasized that the approach to these complex disorders need to be multi-disciplinary going beyond the current approach of single-gene - single-phenotype.

Prof Buckley discussed at length how his team which is made up of an eclectic group of individuals with diverse training and skill sets: from cell & neurobiologists, to data scientists, to computational analysts work collectively to better understands the underlying genetic networks that prefigure emerging neuronal phenotypes.

Post his talk Prof Buckley interacted closely with PhD students and postdocs with overlapping research interest. He keenly listened to their research work and gave his opinion and suggestions. Since Deep Learning as a method to uncover cryptic differences between seemingly similar systems is rather recent it led to the students engaging in a vibrant discussion. For instance, Dr. Deepti Chug from Prof Ganesh’s team who work on neurodegenerative disorders, discussed if mitochondrial perturbations and ensuing molecular readouts be used as a vital parameter for improved machine learning. Further, Prof Buckley was intrigued by interesting suggestions by students; Archita Mishra, who work on understanding development of chick brain, proposed if neuronal stem cells, owing to their plasticity, be coaxed into overcoming some of the disease phenotypes which could the be applied to differentiated neurons.

Finally, Prof Buckley encouraged young researchers to push their boundaries, invest in inter-disciplinary research, take a leap of faith and explore unchartered research areas. The session ended with an open invitation to Prof Buckley to visit IIT Kanpur in person particularly since he also serves as an advisory board member to the Mehta Family Center for Engineering in Medicine, IIT Kanpur.


The Bhupat & Jyoti Mehta Family Foundation

MFCEM at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur is generously supported by the Mehta Family Foundation.

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