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I graduated in Biology from the University of Minho (Portugal), followed by research training at the Academic Medical Centre (Netherlands) and the Karolinska Institute (Sweden). I completed a PhD at the University of Oxford in 2014 where I developed new human stem-cell models of disease to elucidate the role of genetic variants associated with Parkinson’s disease. 

I then moved to the Wellcome Sanger Institute to develop and implement a range of high-throughput and deep phenotyping tools including single-cell lipidomics, genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screens, and single-cell transcriptomics. I expanded this work at the UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Cambridge focusing on the identification of novel targets for neurodegeneration.

I returned to the University of Oxford in 2022 and was awarded an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Research Leader Fellowship to start my own research program in autumn 2023 at Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and the Kavli Institute.

Hugo Fernandes

Group Leader

  • Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Research Leader Fellow


I am interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying selective neuronal vulnerability in dementia and neurodegeneration. My goal is to identify novel disease targets that could lead to effective therapeutic interventions to improve patients' quality of life. 

I use induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to establish novel neuronal models of disease (disease-in-a-dish) to identify and modify the early mechanisms of cellular dysregulation. Current projects are focused on:

  1. Impaired lipid metabolism in dementia. Exploring the molecular mechanism underlying lipid perturbations in neuronal models of dementia in the context of selective neuronal vulnerability. Focusing on cholesterol biosynthesis, Lipid Droplet homeostasis and fatty acid metabolism.   
  2. Novel drivers of neuronal resilience. Identification of novel genes that mediate neuronal vulnerability and resilience using arrayed and pooled CRISPR screens (genome-wide and targeted libraries).  Particular focus on lipid dysregulation, ER stress and lysosomal function.
  3. Functional cellular heterogeneity. Dissecting neuronal diversity and heterogeneity in neurodegeneration at scale, by developing and implementing a range of high-throughput and deep phenotyping tools including single-cell lipidomics and single-cell transcriptomics. By implementing these complementary approaches, I aim at identifying critical targets for neurodegeneration with future clinical applications.

I am a strong advocate for interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts as the path for innovation and cutting-edge research. Get in touch if you would like to discuss possible collaborations or simply to chat about exciting research ideas!