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Portrait Catherina Becker

Catherina Becker © Magdalena Gonciarz

The Becker Group is pursuing three main lines of research.

We are investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying successful regeneration of the zebrafish spinal cord, focussing on the activation of spinal-intrinsic progenitor cells by the lesion and lesion induced neurogenesis, as well as axonal regeneration.

We are using automated chemical compound screen in zebrafish models of motor neurone diseases, mainly spinal muscular atrophy, to identify targets for therapy. My group a founding member of the SMA UK Research Consortium, funded by the SMA Trust with £1.3m.

We are investigating the molecular factors controlling the development of the spinal locomotor network to identify the fundamental relationship between network and function.

In summary, our research contributes to a better understanding of the factors governing generation of neurons and axonal pathfinding in the CNS during development and regeneration. I use the zebrafish model to identify fundamental mechanisms in vertebrates with clear translational implications for CNS injury and neurodegenerative diseases.

Catherina Becker Research: Figure 1
Figure 1: The central canal of the spinal cord is surrounded by motor neuron progenitor cells (purple), sonic hedgehog expressing cells (green) and other ependymal progenitor cells (red). Cell nuclei are blue.
Catherina Becker Research: Figure 2
Figure 2: In a spinal injury site in a larval zebrafish, regenerating axons (magenta) can be seen in contact with extracellular matrix material (green).

Future Projects and Goals

  • Indentification of the substrate of regenerating axons
  • Signalling leading to regenerative neurogenesis

Methodological and Technical Expertise

  • Zebrafish genetics/transcriptomics
  • Spinal cord lesions
  • Drug and genetic screens for pathway discovery
  • Imaging


Since 2021
Professor for Neural Development and Regeneration at Center for Regenerative Therapies TU Dresden (CRTD), Germany

Professor for Neural Development and Regeneration, Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, UK

Reader, Centre for Neuroregeneration, University of Edinburgh

Senior Lecturer, Deanery of Biomedical Sciences, University of Edinburgh.

Group Leader, Centre for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg (ZMNH).

Postdoc, Centre for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg (ZMNH).

Postdoc, Dept Dev Cell Biol, University of California, Irvine.

Postdoc, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich.

PhD Neurobiology with honours, University of Bremen

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Becker Group at CRTD

Selected Publications

Cavone L, McCann T, Drake LK, Aguzzi EA, Oprişoreanu AM, Pedersen E, Sandi S, Selvarajah J, Tsarouchas TM, Wehner D, Keatinge M, Henderson BEP, Dobie R, Henderson NC, Becker T, Becker CG
A unique macrophage subpopulation signals directly to progenitor cells to promote regenerative neurogenesis in the zebrafish spinal cord.
Developmental Cell, in press (2021)

Keatinge M, Tsarouchas TM, Munir T, Porter NJ, Larraz J, Gianni D, Tsai HH, Becker CG, Lyons DA*, Becker T
CRISPR gRNA phenotypic screening in zebrafish reveals pro-regenerative genes in spinal cord injury
PLOS Genetics 17(4): e1009515 (2021)

Becker T, Becker CG
Dynamic cell interactions allow spinal cord regeneration in zebrafish
Current Opinions in Physiology 14:64–69 (2020)

Oprişoreanu AM, Smith HL, Arya S, Webster R, Zhong Z, Wehner D, Cardozo MJ, Becker T, Talbot K, Becker CG
Interaction of axonal Chondrolectin with Collagen XIXa1 is necessary for precise neuromuscular junction formation.
Cell Reports, 29(5):1082–1098.e10 (2019)

Tsarouchas TM, Wehner D, Cavone L, Munir T, Keatinge M, Lambertus M, Underhill A, Barrett T, Kassapis E, Ogryzko N, Feng Y, van Ham TJ, Becker T, Becker CG
Dynamic control of proinflammatory cytokines Il-1β and Tnf-α by macrophages is necessary for functional spinal cord regeneration in zebrafish
Nature Communication 7;9(1):4670 (2018)


Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden
TU Dresden
Fetscherstraße 105
01307 Dresden