Saak Ovsepian

Professor Saak Ovsepian MMSc (Med), MSc (Bio), PhD (Neuroscience)

Professor in Biosciences

Saak V. Ovsepian is a Professor in Biosciences at the Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Greenwich. His expertise is in molecular and cellular neurobiology, neuroimaging, translational biology, and neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. Using neurophysiology, molecular probes and imaging, his work elucidates a wide range of questions in neurobiology, synaptic physiology, and pathobiology of brain diseases.

Professor Ovsepian studied medicine, biology, and philosophy. In 1990 he obtained his MMSc (Physicians Associate, Feldsher) followed by MSc in Biology - Human Physiology in 1999. In 2003 he completed his PhD in comparative and evolutionary neurophysiology in lower vertebrates. This was followed by post-doctoral training in centres of excellence in the Republic of Ireland, Germany, and the USA. Throughout his career, he served as Director of Neuroimaging at the International Centre of Neurotherapeutics in Dublin, Head of Electrophysiology at the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, and Senior Investigator at the Institute of Biological and Medical Imaging, Munich. From 2018 to 2021, he worked as Director of the Experimental Neurobiology program and Head of the Department of Experimental Neuroscience at the National Institute of Mental Health in Prague. Between 2016-2021 he was an Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Science and Health, Dublin University.

Responsibilities within the university

Module Leader

Applied Molecular Biology: MOLE1006 (Biomarkers, Molecular Imaging)

Module participation

Introduction to Biology: BIOL1059 (Anatomy and Physiology of Nervous System)

Fundamental Biology and Physiology: BIOL1002 (Systems Neuroscience)

Biology Methods: OBIO1105 (Microscopy, Theory and Applications)

Biomed Online: Neurobiology and Molecular Imaging

Awards

  1. First prize of the International Congress of German Neuroscience Society 2014 for Neurobiology Research in Alzheimer’s disease (Berlin).
  2. Rolf-Becker-Prize 2015 for the collaborative research in Alzheimer’s disease (with Professor Haass and others) published in Nature journal (Munich).
  3. Innovation Fund Award from the University of Greenwich for Translational Neurobiology Initiative 2022 (London).

Recognition

Professor Ovsepian has been a member of the Faculty Research Committee and Management of the Faculty of Science and Health, Dublin City University. He was also a member of the Directors Board of the National Institute of Mental Health, and Senior Faculty of the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine Charles University, Prague. Between 2018-2021 Professor Ovsepian Chaired the Research and Management Boards of the Experimental Neurobiology Program at the National Institute of Mental Health. From 2016 to 2021, he served as Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Health and Science, Dublin City University, Ireland.

Professor Ovsepian is an Associate Editor of Brain Structure and Function (USA, Springer) and Evolutionary Biochemistry and Physiology (Russia, Springer) journals. He is an Editorial Board member of Brain Sciences and Journal of Alzheimer’s disease. Throughout his academic career, he supervised multiple MSc and PhD projects in cellular and molecular neurobiology, neuroimaging, and neurodegenerative disease research. He has been the organizer and chair of several scientific symposiums, workshops, and other activities.

Professor Ovsepian’ collaborative research in neurobiology of Alzheimer’s disease published in Nature received 2015 Rolf-Becker-Prize. He is the winner of the first prize of 2014 International Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Neurologie. In 2022 he received Innovation Fund Award from the University of Greenwich for Translational Neurobiology Initiative 2022 with Medway NHS Trust.

Professor Ovsepian is a reviewing board member of the British Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS), Estonian Research Council (ETAG), Israel Science Foundation (ISF), Czech Basic Science Foundation (GA-CR), Russian Science Foundation (RSF), Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI), and others. He is on the reviewing panel of Nature Communications, Neuron, Brain Structure and Function, Brain, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Neurotherapeutics, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Frontiers in Cellular Neurosciences, British Journal of Pharmacology, Photoacoustic and others.

Memberships

British Neuroscience Association - Full Member

Royal Society of Biology - Elected Fellow

Research / Scholarly interests

Scientific activities and areas of interest

Professor Ovsepian authored over 100 publications, including in leading international journals such as Nature, Neuron, Nature Communication, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, PNAS, Cell Reports, and others on synaptic biology and pathobiology, translational neuroscience, neurotherapeutics, and neuroimaging. He contributed to several books on neurobiology and translational neuroscience topics.  In 2014, he proposed the hypothesis of the exaptive origin of a chemical synapse, suggesting that the core molecular constituents of chemical synapses evolved independently from neurons. In 2016 Professor Ovsepian put forward the homeostatic hypothesis of the basal forebrain cholinergic system. In 2019 he proposed the brain’s dark matter hypothesis, suggesting a major redundancy of neurons in the mammalian brain, maintained in a dormant state. Professor Ovsepian’ current research focus is elucidating molecular and cellular mechanisms of normal brain functions, neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases, and translational biology, using advanced imaging and neurophysiology methods in cell cultures and preclinical models.

Opportunities in neurobiology and molecular imaging research

We are looking for inquisitive, ambitious, creative, and capable individuals interested in internships and training opportunities in cellular neurobiology, molecular imaging, and translational biosciences. If you are interested and would like to join to conduct world-leading research in these areas, please send your CV and letter of interest to Professor Saak V. Ovsepian (s.v.ovsepian@gre.ac.uk).

Key funded projects

  1. Vice Chancellors Scholarship: Neurobiology of Postpartum Depression £45,000 (PI) (2023-2025).
  2. Research Excellent Framework: Competitive Funding for Science, University of Greenwich £21,073 (PI) (2022).
  3. The British Academy Grant: Pump Priming Collaboration between UK and EU (2022).
  4. Visegrad Fund: Strategic Grant - 22110407. € 38 680 (PI, Coordinator: 2021-2024).
  5. REMOPD” JPND2020-568-060. € 1 464 661 (EU Project, PI, Coordinator: 2021-2024).
  6. Inter-Excel. CZ-USA Grant. LTA-USA19135; 280 000 € (Co-Investigator 2019-2022).
  7. Czech-Bayern Transnational Grant - LTAB19024 - 96 000 € (PI, 2019-2021).
  8. Helmholtz Association Developmental Grant - 98 000 € (PI, 2016-2017).
  9. PRTLI4 Fellowship: Target Driven Therapeutics – 64 000 € (Supervisor, 2009-2013).
  10. Science Foundation Ireland Grant - 1 460 000 € (Co-Investigator 2008-2013).
  11. PRTLI4 Fellowship: Target Driven Therapeutics – 128 000 € (Supervisor, 2008-2012).

Recent publications

Article

Hudec, Michael , Jurícková, Iva, Riegerová, Kamila, Ovsepian, Saak , Cerná, Marie , O’Leary, Valerie (2022), Enhanced extracellular transfer of HLA-DQ activates CD3+ lymphocytes towards compromised Treg induction in celiac disease. MDPI. In: , , , . MDPI, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23: 6102 (11) ISSN: 1661-6596 (Print), (doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23116102).

Kocurova, Gabriela , Ricny, Jan, Ovsepian, Saak (2022), Autoantibodies targeting neuronal proteins as biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases. Ivyspring International Publisher. In: , , , . Ivyspring International Publisher, Theranostics, 12 (7) . pp. 3045-3056 1838-7640 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.7150/thno.72126).

Kutna, Viera , O'Leary, Valerie Brid, Hoschl, Cyril, Ovsepian, Saak V. (2022), Cerebellar demyelination and neurodegeneration associated with mTORC1 hyperactivity may contribute to the developmental onset of autism-like neurobehavioral phenotype in a rat model. Wiley. In: , , , . Wiley, Autism Research, 15 (5) . pp. 791-805 ISSN: 1939-3792 (Print), 1939-3806 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.2688).

Dremencov, Eliyahu , Jezova, Daniela, Barak, Segev, Gaburjakova, Jana , Gaburjakova, Marta , Kutna, Viera , Ovsepian, Saak V. (2021), Trophic factors as potential therapies for treatment of major mental disorders. Elsevier. In: , , , . Elsevier, Neuroscience Letters, 764: 136194 ISSN: 0304-3940 (Print), (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2021.136194).

Androvičová, Renáta , Pfaus, James G, Ovsepian, Saak (2021), Oestrogen pendulum in schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease: review of therapeutic benefits and outstanding questions. Elsevier. In: , , , . Elsevier, Neuroscience Letters, 759: 136038 . pp. 1-8 ISSN: 0304-3940 (Print), 0304-3940 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2021.136038).

Riegerova, Petra , Brejcha, Jundrich, Bezdekova, Dagmar, Chum, Tomas , Masinova, Eva , Cermakova, Nikola , Ovsepian, Saak , Cebecauer, Marek , Stefl, Marek (2021), Expression and localization of AβPP in SH-SY5Y cells depends on differentiation state. IOS Press. In: , , , . IOS Press, Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 82 . pp. 485-491 2542-4823 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-201409).

Pokorná, Markéta , Hudec, Michael, Juříčková, Iva, Michael, Vácha , Zdeňka, Polívková , Viera, Kútna , Jan, Pala , Ovsepian, Saak V. , Marie, Černá , Valerie Bríd, O'Leary (2021), All-trans retinoic acid fosters the multifarious U87MG cell line as a model of glioblastoma. MDPI. In: , , , . MDPI, Brain Sciences, 11: 812 (6) 2076-3425 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060812).

Ovsepian, Saak , O'Leary, Valerie, Hoschl, Cyril, Zaborszky, Laszlo (2021), Integrated phylogeny of the human brain and pathobiology of Alzheimer's disease: a unifying hypothesis. Elsevier. In: , , , . Elsevier, Neuroscience Letters, 11: 135895 (755) . pp. 1-9 ISSN: 0304-3940 (Print), 0304-3940 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2021.135895).

Vrajova, Monika , Slamberova, Romana, Hoschl, Cyril, Ovsepian, Saak (2021), Methamphetamine and sleep impairments: neurobehavioral correlates and molecular mechanisms. Oxford Academic. In: , , , . Oxford Academic, Sleep, 44: zsab001 (6) ISSN: 0161-8105 (Print), 1550-9109 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsab001) NB Item availability restricted.

Granak, Simon , Hoschl, Cyril, Ovsepian, Saak V. (2021), Dendritic spine remodeling and plasticity under general anaesthesia. Springer. In: , , , . Springer, Brain Structure and Function, 226 . pp. 2001-2017 ISSN: 1863-2653 (Print), 1863-2661 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-021-02308-6).

Jorratt, Pascal , Hoschl, Cyril, Ovsepian, Saak (2021), Endogenous antagonists of N-Methyl-D-Aspartate receptor in schizophrenia. Wiley. In: , , , . Wiley, Alzheimers and Dementia, 17 (5) . pp. 888-905 ISSN: 1552-5279 (Print), 1552-5279 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/alz.12244) NB Item availability restricted.

Kutna, Viera , O'Leary, Valerie, Newman, Ehren, Hoschl, Cyril , Ovsepian, Saak (2021), Revisiting brain tuberous sclerosis complex in rat and human: shared molecular and cellular pathology leads to distinct neurophysiological and behavioural phenotypes. Springer. In: , , , . Springer, Neurotherapeutics - The Journal of the American Society for Experimental Neurotherapeutics, 18 (2) . pp. 845-858 ISSN: 1933-7213 (Print), 1878-7479 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-020-01000-7) NB Item availability restricted.

Ovsepian, Saak , O'Leary, Valerie, Hoschl, Cyril (2021), Mainstream psychiatry reinstates therapeutic ventures of the remote past. Elsevier. In: , , , . Elsevier, Drug Discovery Today, 26 (3) . pp. 845-851 ISSN: 1359-6446 (Print), 1359-6446 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drudis.2021.01.011) NB Item availability restricted.