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Dr David Menassa

Stipendiary Lecturer in Neurophysiology and Neuroscience


I obtained my BSc in biological and earth sciences at the Université Saint Joseph in Beirut in 2006. Following a brief spell at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, I completed my MSc in applied physiology at the University of Oxford followed by an MPhil in bioenergetics at the University of Cambridge. In 2009, I was awarded a Clarendon scholarship to pursue my DPhil studies in clinical neurology at the University of Oxford. Since 2014, I have held various postdoctoral appointments at Bristol and Oxford. I joined Queen’s in 2017 as stipendiary lecturer in neurophysiology.


I teach the neurophysiology syllabus at Queen’s to first-year undergraduates in experimental psychology. I also teach the neuroscience syllabus to second-year undergraduates reading medicine and biomedical science. I provide supervision for final honour school (FHS) medical students who take an interest in submitting extended essays on neurodevelopmental disorders as part of the FHS medical sciences examination. 


My research is focused on human neurodevelopment and how macrophages participate in key developmental milestones such as neuronal migration, cortical folding, synaptogenesis and myelination. I also investigate mechanisms of hypoxic injury in term babies and methods of treating this to improve long-term cognitive outcomes. My interests span the medical sciences and this has resulted in multiple successful collaborative papers such as the discovery of a novel hormone in the heart that could be a potential therapeutic target in atrial fibrillation. The story is featured here: 'Bone hormone could provide new treatment for heart rhythm disorder'.


Menassa, D. A., Muntslag, T. A. O., Martin-Estebané, M., Barry-Carroll, L., Chapman, M. A., Adorjan, I., Tyler, T., Turnbull, B., Rose-Zerilli, M. J. J., Nicoll, J. A. R., Krsnik, Z., Kostovic, I., & Gomez-Nicola, D. (2021). Spatiotemporal dynamics of human microglia are linked with brain developmental processes across the lifespan. bioRxiv, 2021.2008.2007.455365.

Hu Y, Fryatt GL, Ghorbani M, Obst J, Menassa DA, Martin-Estebane M, Muntslag TAO, Olmos-Alonso A, Guerrero-Carrasco M, Thomas D, Cragg MS, Gomez-Nicola D. Replicative senescence dictates the emergence of disease-associated microglia and contributes to Aβ pathology. Cell Rep. 2021 Jun 8;35(10):109228. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109228. PMID: 34107254; PMCID: PMC8206957.

Gundersen JK, Chakkarapani E, Jary S, Menassa DA, Scull-Brown E, Frymoyer A, Walløe L, Thoresen M. Morphine and fentanyl exposure during therapeutic hypothermia does not impair neurodevelopment. The Lancet EClinicalMedicine. 2021 Jun 5;36:100892. doi: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100892. PMID: 34308308; PMCID: PMC8257990.

Moreira LM, Takawale A, Hulsurkar M, Menassa DA, Antanaviciute A, Lahiri SK, Mehta N, Evans N, Psarros C, Robinson P, Sparrow AJ, Gillis MA, Ashley N, Naud P, Barallobre-Barreiro J, Theofilatos K, Lee A, Norris M, Clarke MV, Russell PK, Casadei B, Bhattacharya S, Zajac JD, Davey RA, Sirois M, Mead A, Simmons A, Mayr M, Sayeed R, Krasopoulos G, Redwood C, Channon KM, Tardif JC, Wehrens XHT, Nattel S, Reilly S. Paracrine signalling by cardiac calcitonin controls atrial fibrogenesis and arrhythmia. Nature. 2020 Nov 4. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2890-8. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33149301.

Carroll L, Braeutigam S, Dawes JM, Krsnik Z, Kostovic I, Coutinho E, Dewing JM, Horton CA, Gomez-Nicola D, Menassa DA. Autism Spectrum Disorders: Multiple Routes to, and Multiple Consequences of, Abnormal Synaptic Function and Connectivity. Neuroscientist. 2020 May 22:1073858420921378. doi: 10.1177/1073858420921378. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32441222.

Pollak TA, Kempton MJ, Iyegbe C, Vincent A, Irani SR, Coutinho E, Menassa DA, Jacobson L, de Haan L, Ruhrmann S, Sachs G, Riecher-Rössler A, Krebs MO, Amminger P, Glenthøj B, Barrantes-Vidal N, van Os J, Rutten BPF, Bressan RA, van der Gaag M, Yolken R, Hotopf M, Valmaggia L, Stone J, David AS; EUGEI High-Risk Study, McGuire P. Clinical, cognitive and neuroanatomical associations of serum NMDAR autoantibodies in people at clinical high risk for psychosis. Mol Psychiatry. 2020 Oct 19. doi: 10.1038/s41380-020-00899-w. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33077853.

Phillips T, Menassa DA, Grant S, Cohen N, Thoresen M. The effects of Xenon gas inhalation on neuropathology in a placental-induced brain injury model in neonates: A pilot study. Acta Paediatr. 2020 Jul 18. doi: 10.1111/apa.15486. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32681542.

Berridge G, Menassa DA, Moloney T, Waters PJ, Welding I, Thomsen S, Zuberi S, Fischer R, Aricescu AR, Pike M, Dale RC, Kessler B, Vincent A, Lim M, Irani SR, Lang B. Glutamate receptor δ2 serum antibodies in pediatric opsoclonus myoclonus ataxia syndrome. Neurology. 2018 Aug 21;91(8):e714-e723. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000006035. Epub 2018 Jul 25. PubMed PMID: 30045961; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6107266.

Menassa DA, Gomez-Nicola D. Microglial Dynamics During Human Brain Development. Front Immunol. 2018 May 24;9:1014. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.01014. eCollection 2018. Review. PubMed PMID: 29881376; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5976733.

Dawes JM, Weir G, Middleton SJ, Patel R, Chisholm K, Pettingill P, Peck LJ, Sheridan J, Shakir A, Jacobson L, Gutierrez-Mecinas M, Galino J, Walcher J, Kuhnemund J, Kuehn H, Sanna M, Lang B, Clark AJ, Themistocleous A, Iwagaki N, West SJ, Werynksa K, Carroll L, Trendafilova T, Menassa DA, Giannoccaro MP, Coutinho E, Cervellini I, Tewari D, Buckley C, Leite M, Wildner H, Zeilhofer HU, Peles E, Todd AJ, McMahon SB, Dickenson LH, Lewin G, Vincent A, Bennett DLH (2018). Immune or genetic mediated disruption of CASPR2 causes pain hypersensitivity due to enhanced primary afferent excitability. Neuron, e1-e10. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.01.033

Menassa DA, Braeutigam S, Bailey A, Falter-Wagner CM. Frontal evoked γ-activity modulates behavioural performance in Autism Spectrum Disorders in a perceptual simultaneity task. Neurosci Lett. 2018 Feb 5; 665:86-91. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2017.11.045. Epub 2017 Nov 27. PubMed PMID: 29191694.

Phillips TJ, Scott H, Menassa DA, Bignell AL, Sood A, Morton JS, Akagi T, Azuma K, Rogers MF, Gilmore CE, Inman GJ, Grant S, Chung Y, Aljunaidy MM, Cooke CL, Steinkraus BR, Pocklington A, Logan A, Collett GP, Kemp H, Holmans PA, Murphy MP, Fulga TA, Coney AM, Akashi M, Davidge ST, Case CP. Treating the placenta to prevent adverse effects of gestational hypoxia on fetal brain development. Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 22;7(1):9079. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-06300-1. PubMed PMID: 28831049; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5567270.

Coutinho E, Menassa DA, Jacobson L, West S, Domingos J, Moloney T, Pedersen MG, Benros, ME, Lang B, Bennett DLH, Harrison PJ, Mortensen PB, Nørgaard-Pedersen B, Bannerman D, Vincent A (2017). Maternal CASPR2 antibodies and neurodevelopmental disorders in the offspring: epidemiological findings and an animal model. The Lancet, 389(S1), S18. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30414-2

Menassa DA, Sloan C, Chance SA. Primary olfactory cortex in autism and epilepsy: increased glial cells in autism. Brain Pathol. 2017 Jul;27(4):437-448. doi: 10.1111/bpa.12415. Epub 2016 Aug 15. PubMed PMID: 27409070.

Levett DZ, Radford EJ, Menassa DA, Graber EF, Morash AJ, Hoppeler H, Clarke K, Martin DS, Ferguson-Smith AC, Montgomery HE, Grocott MP, Murray AJ; Caudwell Xtreme Everest Research Group. Acclimatization of skeletal muscle mitochondria to high-altitude hypoxia during an ascent of Everest. FASEB J. 2012 Apr;26(4):1431-41. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-197772. Epub 2011 Dec 20. PubMed PMID: 22186874.
Roberts LD, Murray AJ, Menassa D, Ashmore T, Nicholls AW, Griffin JL. The contrasting roles of PPARδ and PPARγ in regulating the metabolic switch between oxidation and storage of fats in white adipose tissue. Genome Biol. 2011 Aug 11;12(8):R75. doi: 10.1186/gb-2011-12-8-r75. PubMed PMID: 21843327; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3245615.