Dr Roberto Feuda

Roberto-Fueda-300sq.jpgDr Roberto Feuda

Tel: (+44) 01162523355

Email: rf190@leicester.ac.uk

Personal details

  • BSc (University of Rome Sapienza)
  • MSc (University of Rome Sapienza)
  • PhD (National University of Ireland Maynooth)


I was born and raised in Terracina, a small town on the seaside in Italy but my research interests brought me to different cities and continents. I did my BSc and MSc in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Rome Sapienza with a dissertation on the phylogeography of the common mole. In summer 2008 I moved to the National University of Ireland of Maynooth for a fully-funded summer internship on horizontal gene transfer in plants. A year later I went back with a PhD fellowship awarded by the Irish Council for Research and Engineering to work in the lab of Davide Pisani. During my PhD, I worked on the origin of opsin, and the relationships between non-bilateria metazoans. At the end of my PhD, I had the privilege to carry out a brief project with Peter Holland in his laboratory at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford. As a postdoc, I worked in the Eric Davidson laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and learn about gene regulatory networks (GRNs) and their evolution.

Finally, in 2018, I was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, and I moved back to Europe. After spending one year and a half at the School of Earth Science in Bristol as part of the Paleobiology group, in October 2019, I accepted a proleptic position in the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology at the University of Leicester. In my lab, we integrate computation and experimental approaches to understand three main problems:


The evolution of gene regulatory networks: Gene regulatory networks (GRNs) are responsible for defining every feature in an animal's body plan, including position, number and types of neurons. Yet, how they evolved and whether conserved GRNs control the patterning of homologous neurons in different species remains an open problem. To understand this we identify and compare GRN in various model systems (e.g. sea urchin, flies, ctenophores and cnidarians) using genomic approaches (e.g. single-cell) and functional perturbation (e.g. CRISPR-Cas).

The molecular assembly of the vision: Despite the fundamental role of vision in almost all our daily tasks, its molecular assembly is still unclear. In the lab, we combine genomics and phylogenomics to understand when the various genes required for eyes function evolved in animals’ history.

Phylogenomics: Having a well-resolved phylogenetic tree is crucial to understand the polarization of character (e.g. the evolution of the nervous system). However, reconstruct a robust phylogenetic tree has been provided difficult for specific parts of the animals’ tree of life (e.g. sponges and ctenophores). In the lab, we apply genome-scale analysis and cutting-edge phylogenetic methods to better resolve relationships between animals groups.





Join us: I am always looking for highly motivated new members to join our team. We welcome applications from scientists with different backgrounds (e.g. computer science and biology). Prospective postdoctoral fellows, PhD and undergrads students are encouraged to contact Roberto by email (rf190 at leicester.ac.uk) to discuss opportunities.

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Contact Details

Department of Genetics
University of Leicester

Adrian Building
University Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3374
E Mail: genetics@le.ac.uk

Head of Department
Professor Jacqui Shaw

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