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David Petrik

Dr David Petrik

Senior Lecturer

School of Biosciences

+44 29208 79391
Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Available for postgraduate supervision


My research focuses on adult neural stem cells and adult neurogenesis. Neural stem cells in the adult mammalian brain have the capacity to generate new neurons, which are important for brain functions such as learning and memory, mood control, and body metabolism. I am interested in studying factors that regulate the stem cells and brain functions that are regulated by the stem cells and their cell progeny. I am particularly interested in determining how aberrant diet can influence the stem cells and how stem cells can regulate the food intake behaviour and development of obesity.

Interested in joining my research group?

I enjoy supervising students. Research in my group is suitable for undergraduate, Master's and PhD students. I am open to discussion about fellowship applications with postdoctoral candidates. If you are interested in joining the lab, please contact me by email.
















We utilize a wide range of techniques to study genetic, epigenetic, pharmacological and environmental factors that regulate neural stem cells in adult mammalian brain. Using immunohistochemistry, cell cultures and time-lapse imaging, we determine the proliferative and differentiation potential of stem cells and lineages of individual cell clones. We study mechanistic aspects of stem cell regulation by calcium imaging and by the patch-clamp electrophysiology in combination with the single-cell RNA sequencing. Our goal is to search for new factors that regulate stem cell biology and to understand how stem cells and their cell progeny influence brain and body functions.  

Regulation of stem cells by diet

New neurons are generated in adult brain from neural stem cells in discrete regions called adult neurogenic niches by a process of adult neurogenesis. There are two well-established and one understudied neurogenic niche in the mammalian brain. The neurogenic niche of the hippocampus gives rise to new neurons that are critical for the declarative memory and mood control. In the walls of the lateral ventricle, there is a neurogenic niche that generates immature neurons, which migrate to the olfactory bulb to participate in olfactory function. The less explored niche is in the hypothalamus, in the walls of the third brain ventricle. Here, specialized cells called tanycytes serve in a dual role as the putative stem cells as well as the metabolic regulators to control the feeding behavior, body weight and aging. Our aim is to understand how diet influences the ability of tanycytes as the neural stem cells and to identify new diet-responsive genetic factors in tanycytes. The strategic goal is to discover specific genes that can be manipulated in tanycytes and their cell progeny to combat development of diet-induced obesity.

Anti-obesity compounds

We are interested in determining cellular and molecular mechanims of action of anti-obesity compounds. We investigate the neurogenic potential of previously established and novel anti-obesity compounds. Our goal is to use adult neurogenesis and newborn neurons as pharmacological target of pre-clinical anti-obesity therapies.


  • BI2331 'Physiology' - neuromuscular and autonomic nervous system
  • BI3355 'Advances in Physiology' - renal physiology


I am a senior lecturer of the Biomedicine Division within the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University. My original training lies in ion channel biophysics and physiology, however, over the last decade I have been studying the neural stem cells in the brain.

Between 2000-2003, I conducted my diploma Master’s thesis at the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Academy of Sciences of Czech Republic in Prague, where I investigated the electrophysiological and morphological properties of reactive astrocytes in a model of mechanical brain injury. To deepen my understanding of ion channel biophysics, I enrolled as a PhD student at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, USA. In the laboratory of Dr. Robert Brenner, I studied the effects of alternative splicing, reverse phosphorylation and accessory subunits on molecular kinetics of calcium activated (BK) channels and their role in action potential waveform and firing in the granule cell neurons in the hippocampus.

During my post-doctoral career, I have focused on adult neural stem cells and adult neurogenesis, the process of generating new neurons in the adult brain. In 2008, I have joined the laboratory of Professor Amelia Eisch at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas. I have led a research in small molecule screening to characterize one of the most used drugs to upregulate adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus called Isoxazole 9. Also, I have studied the effects of epigenetic (such as Brg1) and genetic (Mef2, Cdk5) factors on the biology of adult neural stem cells. In 2013, I relocated back to Europe as a Marie Curie Fellow of the European Research Council to the laboratory of Professor Magdalena Götz. At the Institute of Stem Cell Research of the Helmholtz Centrum Munich and at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, I completed the research arch of my career by showing that adult neural stem cells in the brain are mechano-sensitive thanks to the epithelial sodium channel. Also, I have collaborated on projects that involve so called direct cell reprogramming and new single-cell sequencing methods. In September 2019, I joined the Cardiff University as a senior lecturer. In my laboratory, I focus on the adult neural stem cells in hypothalamus and the role of metabolism and diet on their stemness and biology.


  • 2008     Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Physiology: The University of Texas HSCSA, San Antonio, USA. Title of PhD Thesis: "The role of the β4 subunit in phosphorylation of calcium-activated potassium (BK) channels.” Supervisor: Dr. Robert Brenner.

  • 2003     Bachelor and Master of Engineering (M. Eng./Ing.): Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic. Title of Master Diploma Thesis: "Electrophysiological and morphological properties of glial cells in different models of astrogliosis in brain and spinal cord tissues.” Supervisor: Prof. Eva Sykova.

Honours and awards

  • 2014 – 2016     Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship

  • 2005, 2006       Vernon Bishop Award, UTHSCSA, Texas, USA

  • 2003                   Award of the Foundation of Vaclav Havel, the President of the Czech Republic

  • 2003                   Award for the best young scientists, Czech Physiol. Society of J.E. Purkinje

  • 2003                   Annual Award for the best Czech university students, Hlavka Foundation

  • 2003                   Travel Award, Fulbright Foundation

Professional memberships

  • Society for Neuroscience (from 2004)
  • British Neuroscience Association (from 2022)

Academic positions

  • 2019-             Senior Lecturer and Principal Investigator, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, UK.

  • 2016-2019      Scientist, Helmholtz Zentrum Munich and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany.

  • 2014-2016      Marie Curie Fellow, European Research Council, Helmholtz Zentrum Munich, Germany.

  • 2013-2014      Postdoctoral fellow, Lab of Prof. Magdalena Götz, Helmholtz Zentrum Munich, Germany.

  • 2008-2013      Postdoctoral fellow, Lab of Lab of Prof. Amelia Eisch, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA.

Speaking engagements

2023     Adult Neurogenesis AbCam conference, Dresden, Germany

2023     Black Sea Neurogenesis conference, Albena, Bulgaria

2022     Cajal Institute for Neuroscience, Madrid, Spain

2021     Achucarro Institute for Neuroscience, Bilbao, Spain

2019     Keynote speaker at YSA symposium, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

2019     Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Prague, Czech Republic

2019     University of Leipzig, Germany

2019     Cardiff University, United Kingdom

2018     Achucarro Institute for Neuroscience, Bilbao, Spain

2018     Biological Institute, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

2018     University of Leeds, United Kingdom

2018     ABCAM Symposium on Adult Neurogenesis, Dresden, Germany

2016     WE Heraeus Seminar on Neuronal Mechanics, Bad Honnef, Germany

2016     EuroGenesis Meeting on Adult Neurogenesis, Bordeaux, France

2015     ABCAM Symposium on Adult Neurogenesis, Dresden, Germany

2015     Society for Neuroscience Meeting, Chicago, USA

2014     Keystone Symposium on Adult Neurogenesis, Stockholm, Sweden

2011     Society for Neuroscience Meeting, Washington, D.C., USA

Committees and reviewing

  • GW4 MRC DTP Cardiff Academic Lead


  • Journal reviewer (Stem Cell, Stem Cells, Neuron etc.)
  • Reviewer grant (BBSRC, MRC, Swiss National Science Foundation etc.)
  • Guest Editor (Cells)


  • Sara Jorgensen (PhD student 2020-2024)
  • May Surridge-Smith (Inegrated Masters student 2023-2024)

Former students:

  • Sarah Robbins (MRes student 2020-2021)
  • Alena Karnosova (Visiting PhD student 2021)
  • Oliver Rowley (Integrated Masters student 2021-2022)
  • Eleanor Lewis (MRes student 2022-2023)
  • Aleksandra Hajdrych (Integrated Masters student 2022-2023)

Current supervision

Sara Jorgensen

Sara Jorgensen

Research student


Wales Brain Bee - participating on the annual neuroscience activity of Cardiff School of Biosciences for high school students with interest in neurosciences.