Cian O'Donnell
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Research activity per year

Personal profile


Cian did a BSc in Applied Physics at Dublin City University, followed by an MSc and PhD in Neuroinformatics at University of Edinburgh where he studied biophysical models of electrical noise and synaptic plasticity in single neurons. He then worked for 3 years as a postdoc in the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California modelling synaptic plasticity in neural circuits, and analysing neural population activity data from mouse models of autism. In 2015 he became a lecturer at the University of Bristol and started a computational neuroscience research group. In October 2021 Cian moved to Ulster University at Magee, joining the ISRC as a lecturer in data analytics. Website here:

Research Interests

Cian's research group works on three topics in the field of computational neuroscience: 1) learning and memory in the brain; 2) neural circuit dysfunction in autism; 3) statistical methods for neuroscience data.

Current and Recent Grants

Current funding

  • Biological and Biotechnology Research Council
    Synaptic strength instability from stochastic gene expression in neurons
  • Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant.
    Generalisable neural learning from noisy synapses.
    £207,224, 01/2020-12/2022.
  • Medical Research Council New Investigator Research Grant.
    Computational prediction of vulnerable points and interventions for dysfunctional synaptic plasticity in neuropsychiatric disorders.
    £432,908, 12/2019-11/2022.

Past funding

  • Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative: Pilot Award (Co-I: Prof Carlos Portera-Cailliau, University of California Los Angeles).
    Stability of sensory coding in Fragile-X mice
    $225,213, 10/2017-09/2019.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Neuroinformatics, The University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jul 2012

Master, Neuroinformatics, The University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jul 2007

Bachelor, Applied Physics, Dublin City University

Award Date: 1 Jun 2005

External positions

Honorary Senior Lecturer in Computational Neuroscience

24 Sept 2021 → …


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