Dr Tom Pratt

Major research interest: the cell and molecular biology of brain development.

Dr Tom Pratt

Senior Lecturer

Hugh Robson Building

15 George Square

Edinburgh EH8 9XD

Contact details

 Work: +44 (0)131 650 3732

 Email: T.Pratt@ed.ac.uk

Personal profile

I obtained a BSc (Hons) in Molecular Biology in 1992, a PhD in Developmental Neurobiology in 2001 (both at the University of Edinburgh), and I stayed in Edinburgh to carry out postdoctoral research before establishing my own research group within Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences (formally CIP)  in 2011.

Research Theme


Dr Thomas Pratt's research briefing

I work towards understanding how a brain develops from a fertilised egg to birth and how nature gets it right nearly every time. That takes organisation. More specifically I study how cells signal to each other and how these signals are tuned, via an impressive orchestration of genes, to instruct cell fate and behaviour so that neural cells self-organise the developing brain into its final form.  

  • Cell and molecular biology of forebrain morphogenesis and development of axonal pathways including the corpus callosum and optic tracts.
  • Tuning cell signaling by differential sulphation of heparan sulphate (HS) carbohydrates.
  • Using the mouse forebrain as a model system employing transgenic methods.
  • Ex vivo and cell imaging techniques.

This research addresses the fundamental biology of how complex molecular and cellular environments emerge and function in the brain. It will have applications in the development of strategies to understand and repair brains damaged by disease or wounding.


Pratt lab members



Pratt Lab

James M. Clegg, Hannah M. Parkin, John O. Mason and Thomas Pratt (2019). Heparan Sulfate Sulfation by Hs2st Restricts Astroglial Precursor Somal Translocation in Developing Mouse Forebrain by a Non-Cell-Autonomous Mechanism. Journal of Neuroscience 39 (8) 1386-1404 ; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1747-17.2018

Li Z, Pratt T, Price DJ (2018) Zic4-Lineage Cells Increase Their Contribution to Visual Thalamic Nuclei during Murine Embryogenesis If They Are Homozygous or Heterozygous for Loss of Pax6 Function.. eNeuro. 23;5(5). 

Mi D, Li Z, Lim L, Li M, Moissidis M, Yang Y, Gao T, Hu TX, Pratt T, Price DJ, Sestan N, & Marín O. (2018) Early emergence of cortical interneuron diversity in the mouse embryo. Science. 360:81-85.

Chan WK, Price DJ, Pratt T. (2017) FGF8 morphogen gradients are differentially regulated by heparan sulphotransferases Hs2st and Hs6st1 in the developing brain. Biol Open. 6:1933-1942. doi: 10.1242/bio.028605.

Smith R, Huang YT, Tian T, Vojtasova D, Mesalles-Naranjo O, Pollard SM, Pratt T, Price DJ, Fotaki V. (2017) The Transcription Factor Foxg1 Promotes Optic Fissure Closure in the Mouse by Suppressing Wnt8b in the Nasal Optic Stalk. J Neurosci. 2017 Aug 16;37(33):7975-7993. 

Sharp L, Pratt T, MacKay GE, Keighren MA, Flockhart JH, Chandler EJ, Price DJ, Mason JO, West JD.(2017) Comparison of two related lines of tauGFP transgenic mice designed for lineage tracing. BMC Dev Biol.

Pratt T, Nowakowski TJ, & Price DJ (2017) 'MicroRNA and neocortical evolution' In ‘Essentials of Noncoding RNA in Neuroscience' 1st Edition Eds: Davide De Pietri Tonelli ISBN: 9780128044025).

Pratt T & Price DJ. (2016) Junk DNA Used in Cerebral Cortical Evolution. Neuron. 90:1141-3.

2-O Heparan Sulfate Sulfation by Hs2st Is Required for Erk/Mapk Signalling Activation at the Mid-Gestational Mouse Telencephalic Midline. (2015) Wai-Kit Chan, Katherine Howe, James M. Clegg, Scott E. Guimond, David J. Price, Jeremy E. Turnbull, Thomas Pratt. PLoS One. 10(6):e0130147. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130147.

Clegg JM, Conway CD, Howe KM, Price DJ, Mason JO, Turnbull JE, M. Basson A, Pratt T (2014) Heparan Sulfotransferases Hs6st1 and Hs2st Keep Erk in Check for Mouse Corpus Callosum Development. Jneurosci, 34(6):2389-2401

Nowakowski TJ, Mysiak KS, O'Leary T, Fotaki V, Pratt T, Price DJ. (2013) Loss of functional Dicer in mouse radial glia cell-autonomously prolongs cortical neurogenesis. Dev Biol. 382(2):530-7.

Fotaki V, Smith R, Pratt T, Price DJ. (2013) Foxg1 is required to limit the formation of ciliary margin tissue and Wnt/β-catenin signalling in the developing nasal retina of the mouse. Dev Biol. 380(2):299-313.

Nowakowski TJ, Fotaki V, Pollock A, Sun T, Pratt T, Price DJ. (2013) MicroRNA-92b regulates the development of intermediate cortical progenitors in embryonic mouse brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 110(17):7056-61.

Down M, Willshaw DA, Pratt T, Price DJ. (2013) Steerable-filter based quantification of axonal populations at the developing optic chiasm reveal significant defects in Slit2(-/-) as well as Slit1(-/-)Slit2(-/-) embryos. BMC Neurosci. 14:9.

Pratt T, Davey JW, Nowakowski TJ, Raasumaa C, Rawlik K, McBride D, Clinton M, Mason JO and Price DJ (2012) The expression and activity of beta-catenin in the thalamus and its projections to the cerebral cortex in the mouse embryo. BMC Neuroscience 13:20/ doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-20

Price DJ, Clegg J, Duocastella XO, Willshaw D, Pratt T (2012)The importance of combinatorial gene expression in early Mammalian thalamic patterning and thalamocortical axonal guidance. Frontiers in neuroscience. 6:37.

Christopher D. Conway, Kathy M. Howe, Nicole K. Nettleton, David J. Price, John O. Mason, and Thomas Pratt (2011) Heparan sulfate sugar modifications mediate the functions of slits and other factors needed for mouse forebrain commissure development. J. Neurosci. 31: 1955-1970

Ivaniutsin U, Chen Y, Mason JO, Price DJ, Pratt T (2009) Adenomatous polyposis coli is required for early events in the normal growth and differentiation of the developing cerebral cortex. Neural Development 4(1):3.

Tian NM, Pratt T, Price DJ (2008) Foxg1 regulates retinal axon pathfinding by repressing an ipsilateral program in nasal retina and by causing optic chiasm cells to exert a net axonal growth-promoting activity. Development 135:4081-9.

Pratt T, Conway CD, Tian NM, Price DJ, Mason JO (2006) Heparan sulphation patterns generated by specific heparan sulfotransferase enzymes direct distinct aspects of retinal axon guidance at the optic chiasm. Journal of Neuroscience 26:6911-23.

Pratt T, Price DJ (2006) Dual roles of transcription factors in forebrain morphogenesis and development of axonal pathways. In: Development and Plasticity in Sensory Thalamus and Cortex, Eds. R. Erzurumlu, W.Guido and Z.Molnar Chapter 2, pp. 19-41, Springer, Singapore.

MacKay GE, Keighren MA, Wilson L, Pratt T, Flockhart JH, Mason JO, Price DJ, West JD. (2005). Evaluation of the mouse TgTP6.3 tauGFP transgene as a lineage marker in chimeras. J Anat. 206:79-92.

Yap CT, Simpson TI, Pratt T, Price DJ, Maciver SK. (2005). The motility of glioblastoma tumour cells is modulated by intracellular cofilin expression in a concentration-dependent manner. Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 60:153-65.

Court FA, Sherman DL, Pratt T, Garry EM, Ribchester RR, Cottrell DF, Fleetwood Walker SM, Brophy PJ. (2004). Restricted growth of Schwann cells lacking Cajal bands slows conduction in myelinated nerves. Nature. 431:191-5.

Pratt T, Tian NM, Simpson TI, Mason JO, Price DJ. (2004). The winged helix transcription factor Foxg1 facilitates retinal ganglion cell axon crossing of the ventral midline in the mouse. Development. 131:3773-84.

McLaughlin D, Karlsson F, Tian N, Pratt T, Bullock SL, Wilson VA, Price DJ, Mason JO. (2003). Specific modification of heparan sulphate is required for normal cerebral cortical development. Mech Dev. 120:1481-8.

Aubert J, Stavridis MP, Tweedie S, O Reilly M, Vierlinger K, Li M, Ghazal P, Pratt T, Mason JO, Roy D, Smith A. (2003). Screening for mammalian neural genes via fluorescence-activated cell sorter purification of neural precursors from Sox1-gfp knock-in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2100 11836-41.

Tyas DA, Pratt T, Simpson TI, Mason JO, Price DJ. (2003). Genotyping GFP transgenic animals by flashlight. Biotechniques. 34:474-6.

Pratt T, Quinn JC, Simpson TI, West JD, Mason JO, Price DJ. (2002). Disruption of early events in thalamocortical tract formation in mice lacking the transcription factors Pax6 or Foxg1. J Neurosci. 22:8523-31.

Pratt T, Sharp L, Nichols J, Price DJ, Mason JO. (2000). Embryonic stem cells and transgenic mice ubiquitously expressing a tau-tagged green fluorescent protein. Dev Biol. 228:19-28.

Pratt T, Vitalis T, Warren N, Edgar JM, Mason JO, Price DJ. (2000). A role for Pax6 in the normal development of dorsal thalamus and its cortical connections. Development. 127:5167-78

Warren N, Caric D, Pratt T, Clausen JA, Asavaritikrai P, Mason JO, Hill RE, Price DJ. (1999). The transcription factor, Pax6, is required for cell proliferation and differentiation in the developing cerebral cortex. Cereb Cortex. 9:627-35.