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Cambridge Reproduction


David H Rowitch, MD, PhD, ScD

Professor and Head, Department of Paediatrics

Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator

Wellcome Trust-MRC Stem Cell Institute

Professor Rowitch is currently unable to accept Amgen or Erasmus+ students.

Website Links

UCSF School of Medicine

University of Cambridge



David Rowitch is Professor and Head of Paediatrics at University of Cambridge, and he holds a joint appointment at UCSF (Pediatrics and Neurological Surgery). He trained at UCLA Medical School, University of Cambridge and Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Professor Rowitch is a neonatologist and neuroscientist whose laboratory investigates genetic factors that determine development and diversity of glial cells of the brain and the response to injury. He has applied these principles to better understand white matter injury in premature infants, brain cancer and leukodystrophy. Rowitch led the first human clinical trial of direct neural stem cell transplantation focused on the rare and fatal leukodystrophy, Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease. His work in the field of neurobiology has earned him numerous awards. He became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2008 and Professor of Paediatrics at Cambridge University and Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator in 2016. His interest in precision medicine focuses on applications of genomic technologies to diagnose and better understand the biological basis and rational treatment of rare neurological disorders.


Research interest: CNS Development and Disease

Rowitch cell image

A multipotent neurosphere in cell culture expressing transcription factor Olig2 (red), which has dual roles in promoting cell cycle progression and specification of the oligodendrocyte lineage.

Neuron interview


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



Robin Franklin (Neurosciences)

Austin Smith (Stem Cell Institute)

Ludovic Vallier (Surgery)

Arnold Kriegstein and Arturo Alvarez-Buylla (University of California, San Francisco)

Donna Ferriero and Jim Barkovich (University of California, San Francisco)


Key words/Topics

Developmental Neurobiology, Function of Oligodendrocytes and Astrocytes, Brain Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy


Funding Bodies

National Institutes of Health (USA)

Wellcome Trust

Action Medical Research


Key Publications

Lu QR, Yuk D-I, Alberta JA, Zhu Z, Pawlitzky I, McMahon AP, Stiles CD & Rowitch DHSonic hedgehog-regulated Oligodendrocyte lineage genes encoding bHLH proteins in the mammalian central nervous systemNeuron 2000; 25, 317-329.


Lu QR, Sun T, Zhu Z, Ma N, Garcia M, Stiles CD, Rowitch DH.  Common developmental requirement for Olig function indicates a motor neuron/oligodendrocyte lineage connection.  Cell, 2002; 109, 75-86.


Muroyama Y, Fujiwara Y, Orkin SH, Rowitch DHSpecification of astrocytes by bHLH protein SCL in a restricted region of the neural tube. Nature. 2005 Nov 17;438(7066):360-3.


Ligon KL, Huillard E, Mehta S, KesariS, Liu H, Alberta J, Bachoo RM, Kane M, Louis DN, DePinho RA, Anderson DJ, Stiles CD, Rowitch DH. Olig2-regulated lineage-restricted pathway controls replication competence in neural stem cells and malignant glioma.Neuron. 2007; 53:503-17. PMCID: 1810344.


Sanai N, Nguyen T, Ihrie RA, Mirzadeh Z, Tsai HH, Wong M, Gupta N, Berger MS, Huang E, Garcia-Verdugo JM, Rowitch DH, Alvarez-Buylla A. Corridors of migrating neurons in the human brain and their decline during infancy. Nature. 2011 Sep 28;478(7369):382-6.


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 repairScience. 2012 Jul 20;337(6092):358-62. Epub 2012 Jun 28. PMCID: PMC4059181.


Fancy SP, Harrington EP, Baranzini SE, Silbereis JC, Shiow LR, Yuen TJ, Huang, EJ, Lomvardas S, Rowitch DH. Parallel states of pathological Wnt signaling in neonatal brain injury and colon cancerNat Neurosci. 2014 Apr;17(4):506-12. Epub 2014 Mar 9. PMCID:PMC3975168.    


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 angiogenesisCell. 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 integrityNature. 2014 May 8;509(7499):189-94. Epub 2014 Apr 28

David Rowitch