Euan Brown

Senior Lecturer

+44 (0)131 451 4712
Room 2.39
William Perkin Building
Heriot-Watt University
Roles and responsibilities

Deputy Head of Graduate School

Principal Investigator in Biophysics

Responsible for the Electrophysiology Laboratory (WP 3.19)

Teaching Neuroscience and Biophysics across the University  (A18NB_2015-2016: Animal Biology, B17LB_2015-2016: Chemical Applications 2, B19FD_2015-2016: Introduction to Pharmaceutical Chemistry, B19FE_2015-2016: Principles of Drug Discovery and DevelopmentB21MT_2015-2016: Materials Physics)

Undergraduate and postgraduate project supervision


Euan Brown works in the interface between Biomedical Science and Biophysics particularly focussing on bioelectricity.  His current interests are focused on membrane ion channels which are nanoscale molecular machines (proteins) that permit membrane based signals such as secretion, neurotransmission and electrical conduction to occur. Native and abiotic ion channels have great potential in the field of bioengineering and drug discovery.


Ligand and voltage-gated ion channels as sensors

Current projects involve the use of heterologously expressed hERG (human Ether-à-go-go-Related Gene product) cardiac (Kv 11.1) K+ channels in a medium throughput system for substance screening. This channel is key in stabilizing the regularity of heart beats. Drugs or substances that act on hERG have potential cardio- active properties. We are currently screening compounds on biomembranes such as bioactive fractions from from marine sponges and nanomaterials (Figure 2). We will be developing microfluidic devices to solve drug concentration problems where the behaviour of substances in solution is dynamic (e.g Nanomedicines).

Role of voltage gated Calcium channels in excitability.

Many endocrine and neuronal cell classes are ‘spontaneously’ electrically active.  In this project we are examining the role of  voltage gated calcium channels (VGCC).  We are studying the  rules governing the spatial- temporal organization of calcium channels in relation to other intracellular proteins to  understand how this behaviour develops and  is maintained.  These mechanisms can only be understood by combining high resolution imaging and advanced biophysical measurement of whole- cell and single calcium channel activity. We are developing the technology to couple TIRFM imaging and electrophysiology of calcium channels in muscle and synaptic zones. The results will have an impact on understanding the role of calcium channels in both health and disease and will push forward the associated technology.

A microfluidic chip for  MS research (funded by Medical Research Scotland and Epigem Ltd).

In collaboration with Epigem Ltd, we are developing a neuronal chip with built- in electrical stimulation and measurement to study the excitability changes that occur in Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  The project involve combining culture of human stem cells, multi-electrode arrays and microfluidic technology.  

Selected publications

Piscopo, S., & Brown, E. R. (2018). Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles and Voltage-Gated Human Kv11.1 Potassium Channels Interact through a Novel Mechanism. Small, [1703403]. DOI: 10.1002/smll.201703403. Link

Kriplani, N., Hermida Ayala, M., Brown, E. R., & Leslie, N. R. (2015). Class I PI 3-kinases: Function and evolution. Advances in Biological Regulation, 59, 53-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbior.2015.05.002. Link

Kavanagh, D., Smyth, A. M., Martin, K. J., Dun, A., Brown, E. R., Gordon, S., ... Duncan, R. R. (2014). A molecular toggle after exocytosis sequesters the presynaptic syntaxin1a molecules involved in prior vesicle fusion. Nature Communications, 5, [5774]. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6774. Link

Sanges, R., Hadzhiev, Y., Gueroult-Bellone, M., Roure, A., Ferg, M., Meola, N., ... Stupka, E. (2013). Highly conserved elements discovered in vertebrates are present in non-syntenic loci of tunicates, act as enhancers and can be transcribed during development. Nucleic Acids Research, 41(6), 3600-3618. [1]. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkt030. Link

Brown, E. R., & Piscopo, S. (2013). Synaptic plasticity in cephalopods; more than just learning and memory? Invertebrate Neuroscience, 13(1), 35-44. DOI: 10.1007/s10158-013-0150-4. Link

Razy-Krajka F , Kusakabe T, Brown ER, Callebert J Joly JS, and Vernier P (2012) Ancestral protohypothalamo-retinian territory in chordates inferred from characteristics of dopamine cells in ascidian sensory vesicle. (BMC Biology10:45). Link

Brown ER Piscopo S . (2011). Ion channels in key marine invertebrates, potential and applications in biotechnology. Biotechnology Advances May 17. Volume: 29; 457-467. Link

Nishino A, Okamura Y, Piscopo S & Brown ER (2010) A glycine receptor is involved in the organization of swimming movements in an invertebrate chordate. BMC Neuroscience; 11:6. Link

Sordino P, Andreakis N, Brown ER, et al (2008) Natural variation of model mutant phenotypes in Ciona intestinalis.PLoS One. 3(6):e2344. Link


Euan studied physiology at King’s College London where he obtained his BSc and PhD (1992). His work on the ion channels and the anatomy of the squid giant axon introduced him to marine animals and their nervous systems. Since then he has worked at the Marine Biological Association Laboratory (Plymouth, UK), Leicester University (UK) and the StazioneZoologica (Naples Italy). During this time he has contributed to understanding the evolution of ion channels not just at the molecular, but also at the system level. He has developed both single cell and system techniques to study their real-time activity using voltage clamp and single channel measurement systems.  

Further information

Recent Projects and funding

Steering Group Member of the preparatory phase Project; European Marine Biological Resource Centre (EU-FP7) 
Work package leader and PIC (project implementation committee) member on EU ENNSATOX Project. 
Work Package Leader and PIC member ASSEMBLE infrastructure (EU FP7). 
Visiting Professor (2007). National Institute for Natural Sciences, Okazaki JSPS (Japan).

Editorial/refereeing responsibilities.

Referee for the following Journals: Glia, Neuroscience Letters, J. Physiol., J. Exp Biol., Proc. Roy. Soc., JMBA, Gene, Development, J Comp. Physiol.. J. Comp . Neurol., Frontiers in Biology, American Journal of Comp Psychol., PNAS,

Editorial board member for Invertebrate Neuroscience 2007-10

Referee for the following Funding agencies. Expert evaluator FP7, Wellcome Trust UK, NERC UK, BBSRC UK., L’ANR, CNRS , France, MIUR (PRIN) Italy.