Beatriz Rico is a professor of developmental neurobiology at King’s College London, U.K., in the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology where she leads the Research Program on Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She is also a group leader in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders at King’s College.
Rico and her lab’s research focus is on the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling the development and maturation of neural networks at the level of the axons and synapses. In the context of axon remodeling, her lab explores the function of different molecules which may be involved in axonal development, particularly axonal pruning. Axons that are maintained use several cues to establish synaptic contacts with their target neurons, eventually developing into mature synapses. In the context of synapse remodeling, her lab investigates the function of different signaling pathways that command synapse formation and target segregation. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie the formation of neural circuits is not only a major biological challenge but also has important implications for neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders, including autism, schizophrenia and some forms of epilepsy.