Professor and Head, Department of Paediatrics
Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator
Wellcome Trust-MRC Stem Cell Institute
David Rowitch is a pediatrician (neonatology) and developmental neuroscientist. He is Professor and Head of Department of Paediatrics at the University of Cambridge (UK), and Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at University of California San Francisco. Originally from California, he obtained his MD from University of California Los Angeles and PhD (biochemistry) from the University of Cambridge. Rowitch became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2007 and Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator in 2016. He was appointed to the National Advisory Council for Child Health and Development (USA) in 2020.
Professor Rowitch’s laboratory in the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute investigates genetic factors that determine development and diversity of glia, which comprise 90% of cells in the human brain. His laboratory has established how embryonic central nervous patterning specifies myelinating oligodendrocytes through essential functions of Olig2, a study that helped initiate era of developmental genetics in glial biology, and how astrocyte functional diversification is critical for support of neural circuits in spinal cord. He has applied principles of developmental neuroscience to better understand human neonatal brain development as well as white matter injury in premature infants, multiple sclerosis and leukodystrophy.
As a physician-scientist, Professor Rowitch’s interest focuses on functional genomic technologies to better diagnose and treat rare neurogenetic disorders in children. At UCSF, Rowitch helped establish the ‘Neuro-NICU’ and he led a Phase I first-in-man clinical study of neural stem cell transplant in boys with Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease. He is academic lead for the new Cambridge Children’s Hospital, researching origins of paediatric physical and mental conditions and preventive interventions within the UK National Health Service.
His research in the field of developmental neurobiology and biomedicine has earned him numerous awards, including election as Fellow of the Academy Medical Sciences (UK) in 2018 and Fellow of the Royal Society in 2021.
|1982-1984||UCLA Medical School|
|1984-1987||University of Cambridge (Clare): PhD in Biochemistry|
|1989-2006||Paediatrics and Neonatology, Boston Children’s Hospital, Lab at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School|
|2006-2016||Chief of Neonatology, HHMI investigator|
|2016-||Professor and Head of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge; Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator|
Research interest: CNS Development and Disease
Image from the Rowitch lab taken by Vivi Heine in 2008 shows a collection neural stem cells stained with nestin (green), and Olig2 (red), a marker of glial progenitors. Such cell collections can “self-organize” to generate specialized cell progeny without external instructions.
Key Publications – full list of publications is available on Pubmed
- Chavali M, Ulloa-Navas MJ, Pérez-Borredá P, Garcia-Verdugo JM, McQuillen PS, Huang EJ, Rowitch DH. Wnt-Dependent Oligodendroglial-Endothelial Interactions Regulate White Matter Vascularization and Attenuate Injury
Neuron. 2020 Oct 13:S0896-6273(20)30757-1. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.09.033. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33086038
- Bayraktar OA, Bartels T, Holmqvist S, Kleshchevnikov V, Martirosyan A, Polioudakis D, Ben Haim L, Young AMH, Batiuk MY, Prakash K, Brown A, Roberts K, Paredes MF, Kawaguchi R, Stockley JH, Sabeur K, Chang SM, Huang E, Hutchinson P, Ullian EM, Hemberg M, Coppola G, Holt MG, Geschwind DH, Rowitch DH. Astrocyte layers in the mammalian cerebral cortex revealed by a single-cell in situ transcriptomic map. Nat Neurosci. Nature Publishing Group; 2020 Mar 16;8(7641):427–10
- Schirmer L., Velmeshev D., Holmqvist S., Kaufmann M., Werneburg S., Jung D., Vistnes S., Stockley J. H., Young A., Steindel M., Tung B., Goyal N., Bhaduri A., Mayer S., Engler J. B., Bayraktar O. A., Franklin R. J. M., Haeussler M., Reynolds R., Schafer D. P., Friese M. A., Shiow L. R., Kriegstein A. R, Rowitch D.H. Neuronal vulnerability and multilineage diversity in multiple sclerosis. Nature. 2019. PMID: 31316211
- Nobuta H., Yang N., Ng Y.H., Marro S.G., Sabeur K., Chavali M., Stockley J.H., Killilea D.W., Walter P.B., Zhao C., Huie P Jr., Goldman S.A., Kriegstein A.R., Franklin R.J.M., Rowitch D.H., Wernig M. Oligodendrocyte Death in Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease Is Rescued by Iron Chelation. Cell Stem Cell. 2019 Oct 3;25(4):531-541. PMID: 31585904
- Yuen TJ, Silbereis JC, Griveau A, Chang SM, Daneman R, Fancy SP, Zahed H, Maltepe E, Rowitch DH. Oligodendrocyte-encoded HIF function couples postnatal myelination and white matter angiogenesis. Cell. 2014 Jul 17;158(2):383-96. Epub 2014 Jul 10. PMCID: PMC4149873
- Molofsky AV, Kelley KW, Tsai HH, Redmond SA, Chang SM, Madireddy L, Chan JR, Baranzini SE, Ullian EM, Rowitch DH. Astrocyte-encoded positional cues maintain sensorimotor circuit integrity. Nature. 2014 May 8;509(7499):189-94. Epub 2014 Apr 28. PMCID: PMC4057936.
- Gupta N, Henry RG, Strober J, Kang SM, Lim DA, Bucci M, Caverzasi E, Gaetano L, Mandelli ML, Ryan T, Perry R, Farrell J, Jeremy RJ, Ulman M, Huhn SL, Barkovich AJ, Rowitch DH*. Neural stem cell engraftment and myelination in the human brain. Sci Transl Med. 2012 Oct 10;4(155):155ra137. PMCID:PMC3893824
- Tsai HH, Li H, Fuentealba LC, Molofsky AV, Taveira-Marques R, Zhuang H, Tenney, A, Murnen AT, Fancy SP, Merkle F, Kessaris N, Alvarez-Buylla A, Richardson WD, Rowitch DH. Regional astrocyte allocation regulates CNS synaptogenesis and repair. Science. 2012 Jul 20;337(6092):358-62. Epub 2012 Jun 28. PMCID: PMC4059181
- Muroyama Y, Fujiwara Y, Orkin SH, Rowitch DH. Specification of astrocytes by bHLH protein SCL in a restricted region of the neural tube. Nature. 2005 Nov 17;438(7066):360-3. PMID:16292311