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David Keays

The goal of the Keays lab is to answer important questions in sensory and developmental neuroscience. We do this by relying on creative experimental design, that is complemented by a reductionist mindset that pays unrelenting attention to detail.

We are focused on three questions:

1) How do animals detect magnetic fields?

2) How do animals detect electric fields?

3) How do mutations in microtubule associated proteins cause neurodevelopmental disease?

In tackling these questions we adopt a inter-disciplinary approach, employing a broad range of genetic, molecular, cellular, and behavioural tools. Click on the links above to find out more about these projects.


  • 2-photon Imaging
  • iDISCO whole brain imaging
  • RNA and exome sequencing
  • iPSC and ES culture
  • CRISPR/CAS9 genome editing
  • Cerebral Organoid Generation
  • Transgenic Mouse Technology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mass spectroscopy
  • Molecular and biochemical assays.


  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft


  • ERC Consolidator Grant






  • Studienstiftung

Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes

Representative Papers

Hochstoeger et al. The biophysical, molecular, and anatomical landscape of pigeon CRY4: A candidate light-based quantal magnetosensor. Sci Adv. 2020 Aug 12;6(33).

Nimpf S, et al. A putative mechanism for magnetoreception by electromagnetic induction in the pigeon inner ear. Curr Biol. 2019 Dec 2;29(23):4052-4059

Tripathy, et al. Mutations in MAST1 cause mega corpus callosum syndrome and cortical malformations. Neuron. 2018 Dec 19;100(6):1354-1368.

Gstrein et al. Mutations in Vps15 perturb neuronal migration in mice and are associated with neurodevelopmental disease in humans. Nature Neuroscience. (2018) Feb;21(2):207-217.

Breuss M, et al. Mutations in the murine homologue of TUBB5 cause microcephaly by perturbing cell cycle progression and inducing p53-associated apoptosis. Development. 2016 Apr 1;143(7):1126-33

Edelman, NB., et al. (2015). No evidence for intracellular magnetite in putative vertebrate magnetoreceptors identified by magnetic screening. PNAS. 112(1):262-7

Treiber, CD., et al. (2012). Clusters of iron-rich cells in the upper beak of pigeons are macrophages not magnetosensitive neurons. Nature. 484(7394):367-70.

Keays et al, Mutations in α-tubulin cause defects in neuronal migration in mice and lissencephaly in humans. Cell. 2007 Jan 12;128(1):45-57.

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