Esther Becker graduated from the University of Amsterdam in 2000 with an M.Sc. degree in medical biology. Subsequently, she performed her doctorate research with Professor Azad Bonni at Harvard Medical School, focusing on the signaling mechanisms that regulate apoptosis in the nervous system, primarily in the developing cerebellum. For these studies, Becker was awarded a Ph.D. fellowship from the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds and an Albert J. Ryan Foundation Fellowship. After completion of her Ph.D. in 2006, Becker joined Professor Kay Davies’ group at the University of Oxford, funded by a long-term fellowship from the Human Frontier Science Program to investigate the genetic and molecular underpinnings of cerebellar ataxia in mice and men. From 2009 to 2010, Becker was a Wellcome trust-funded OXION training fellow and pursued her interest in the pathogenesis of cerebellar ataxia by taking both a genetic as well as an autoimmune approach.
In 2010, she was awarded a Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship from the Royal Society to establish her own research program in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at University of Oxford. She is also an associate program leader at the MRC Functional Genomics Unit in Oxford.
Becker’s research aims to obtain deeper insights into the fundamental principles that link neurodevelopment and disease in the cerebellum. She is particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms that might link abnormal cerebellar development and autism. To explore this interesting hypothesis, her lab employs a combination of genetic, molecular and cell biological and biochemical approaches using in vitro and in vivo model systems, including mouse primary neuronal cultures, human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons and genetic mouse model.