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Fellows Directory

William Schafer

William Schafer

Dr William Schafer FMedSci FRS


Elected: 2020


William Schafer is a neuroscientist who has investigated conserved principles by which neurons and neural circuits control behaviour. By studying nematode worms with simple and well-characterised nervous systems, he has addressed basic questions in neurobiology, including how sensory neurons detect environmental stimuli, how neuromodulators control behavioural states, and how patterns of neuronal wiring relate to brain function. In the course of this work he has also introduced new methods for detecting and recording the activities of neurons in living animals and for quantitatively defining the effects of genetic mutations on behaviour; these approaches have become widely applied throughout neuroscience.

He obtained his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and began work on nematode neurobiology as a postdoctoral researcher at UCSF. He was a faculty member in the Biology Division at UCSD before moving to the LMB in 2006. He is a member of EMBO and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Professional positions

Group Leader, Division of Neurobiology, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
    • Cellular neuroscience, Physiology incl biophysics of cells (non-clinical), Behavioural neuroscience
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