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Dr Roberta Azzarelli

Dr Roberta Azzarelli

Research Associate

Home department:
Wellcome/MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute,
University of Cambridge, UK

Research Interests:
Roberta is a developmental neurobiologist interested in
how organs form during embryonic development and how
alteration or re-activation of developmental signals can
lead to diseases.

She worked on brain development during her PhD with Prof. François Guillemot in London (NIMR, Mill Hill, UCL), before moving to Cambridge for her postdoc in 2013. She worked with Prof. Anna Philpott on the role of neurogenic transcription factors in the development of the endocrine pancreas. Some of her latest works have contributed to understanding how pancreatic insulin-producing β-cells are generated in vivo and in vitro from pancreatic organoids, which has important implications for diabetes.

In 2017, she moved to the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute with Prof. Benjamin Simons, and has maintained a close collaboration with the Philpott’s group, continuing to conduct research on brain development and neural stem cells. She is currently developing tools to investigate aberration of neural developmental programmes in neurological disorders, building on her experience in the field of cerebral cortex development and neuronal cell migration.

Postal address:
Department of Oncology
Hutchison/MRC Research Centre
University of Cambridge
Box 197, Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 763362


  • neural stem cells
  • bHLH transcription factors
  • pancreatic progenitors
  • brain development

Key Publications


Original articles:

R. Azzarelli, C. Hurley, M. Sznurkowska, S. Rulands, L. Hardwick, I. Gamper, F. Ali, L. McCracken, C. Hindley, F. McDuff, S. Nestorowa, R. Kemp, K. Jones, B. Gottgens, M. Huch, G. Evan, B.D. Simons, D. Winton, A. Philpott. (2017) Multi-site Neurogenin3 phosphorylation controls pancreatic endocrine differentiation. Developmental Cell 10.1016/j.devcel.2017.04.004

DLC Van den Berg, R. Azzarelli, K. Oishi, N. Urban, B. Martynoga, D.H.W. Dekkers, J.A. Demmers and F. Guillemot. (2017) Nipbl interacts with Zfp609 and the Integrator complex to regulate cortical cell migration. Neuron 8;93(2):348-361. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.11.047

R. Azzarelli, E. Pacary, R. Garg, P. Garcez, D.L.C. Van den Berg, P. Riou, A.J. Ridley, R.H. Friedel, M. Parsons, F. Guillemot. (2014) An antagonistic interaction between PlexinB2 and Rnd3 controls RhoA activity and cortical neuron migration. Nature Communications 5:3405 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4405

Review articles:

R. Azzarelli, B. Simons, A. Philpott. (2018) The developmental origin of brain tumors: a cellular and molecular framework. Development

R. Azzarelli*, L. Hardwick, A. Philpott. (2015) Emergence of neuronal diversity from spatio-temporal patterning of telencephalic neural progenitors. WIREs Developmental Biology 10.1002/wdev.174 * co-corresponding author

R. Azzarelli, T. Kerloch, E. Pacary. Regulation of cerebral cortex development by RhoGTPases: insights from in vivo studies. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 8:445. 2015 10.3389/fncel.2014.00445