Clyde Francks appointed professor of Brain Imaging Genomics

08 June 2022
Clyde Francks, research group leader of the Imaging Genomics group at the Max Planck Institute, has been appointed Professor of Brain Imaging Genomics at Radboud university medical center. He studies the genetics of language, brain disorders and asymmetry of the brain on its left to right axis.

Francks’ aim is to find out more about the brain’s asymmetry – the way that the left and right sides are specialized for different functions – and how changes in brain asymmetry are related to brain disorders like schizophrenia and autism. Francks: ‘Asymmetry plays an important role in the way that the human brain is organised. For instance, in the majority of people, the left hemisphere is dominant for language and controls the right hand, but this is less often the case in people with autism or schizophrenia. In a large study of over 30.000 brain images and genetic data, we found various DNA variants that were associated with brain asymmetry. Some of these DNA variants were also associated with schizophrenia and autism. We want to know more about the genes involved.’

Francks graduated in zoology from the University of Oxford in 1996. He then moved to the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford, where he obtained his doctorate (Wellcome Trust Prize student, DPhil 2002) and stayed as a postdoctoral researcher until 2005. During these years he investigated the genetics of dyslexia and led a project on the genetics of handedness and schizophrenia. From 2005 he continued as a visiting fellow at Oxford while working as a manager in the pharmaceuticals industry (GlaxoSmithKline, Verona, Italy), during which time he led collaborative academia-industry projects on the genetics of schizophrenia and cigarette smoking. In 2010 he started in his current position as research group leader of the Imaging Genomics group at the Max Planck Institute. With his new affiliation, a closer collaboration between Radboud university medical center and the MPI will be established.

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