Silvia Paracchini Research Group


Neurogenetics group

We are a very international group. Every year we host visiting scholars, ERASMUS  and summer students. Please get in touch with Silvia if you would like to join us. Below you can learn more about the current lab members


Dr Silvia Paracchini

email: [email protected]



I graduated in Biological Sciences (cum laude) from University of Pavia in 1998 and obtained a DPhil in Human Genetics from Oxford University in 2003. My project, supervised by Dr Chris Tyler-Smith and Prof. Ed Southern involved the development of genotyping methods and screening of large cohorts for genetic associations with prostate cancer and male infertility. I conducted my post-doctoral training in Prof. Anthony Monaco’s group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford University. In 2011 I was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to set up my group at St Andrews. In 2013 I became member of the Young Academy of Scotland. In 2018 I was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB) and in 2019 I became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE). I lead the St Andrews Bioinformatics Unit and I am the co-Director of the the Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences.    

Filippo Abbondanza

PhD candidate             

email: [email protected]


Graduate cum laudae at the University of Bologna in Biotechnology in 2016. I then moved to the UK where I achieved a MSc in Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh. As my MSc thesis I took part in iGEM, the most renowned synthetic biology competition for young researchers. During the project the team developed PhagED, a modular toolkit to re-sensitise antibiotic-resistant bacteria using CRISPR and a dual-phage system. The project won the ‘Best therapeutics’ award.

I’ve started my PhD in May 2018 and I’m interested in unravelling the genetics and the relationship between psychiatric disorders, functional laterality e.g. (brain asymmetries) and behavioural laterality (e.g. handedness).

 Krzysztof Marianski

PhD student

email: [email protected]


I studied BSc Biological Sciences (Forensic Biology) with Foundation at University of Westminster and MSc Forensic Medical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London. As part of my MSc project I worked on GWAS data which led me to take a Data Science Immersive course at General Assembly London. After completing this course I was offered a position as a teaching assistant on various data and coding related courses, where I worked for a couple of years, and finally secured a position as a Data Scientist at Virgin Atlantic Airways. The aim of my PhD project is to use artificial intelligence to interpret genomic data. My PhD project is funded by Medical Research Scotland  in collaboration with Medical Research Scotland and Canon Medical Research Europe.

Christina Fell


email: [email protected]


My interests are in using deep learning to interpret images. During my PhD in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews, I was aiming to detect animals in aerial imagery combining convolutional neural networks and statistical modelling techniques. My interest in the application of these techniques to medical images began as part of the iCAIRD project when I was using deep learning to detect cancer in histopathology slides for gynaecological cancers. My current project, funded by a STAIRS award, focuses on combining brain MRI scans and genetic risk measures.

Emily Wenz

Visiting scholar

email: [email protected]


I graduated in 2017 with a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and BA in Spanish from California Lutheran University. I then moved to Europe to pursue my MSc joint degree in Clinical Linguistics from the University of Groningen, University of Ghent, and University of Eastern Finland as a traveling master’s. As part of the EMCL++ program,  I have the opportunity to carry out my internship as a visiting scholar at the University of St Andrews. I am interested in the neurogenetics of language and cognitive disorders as well as the gut-brain axis. My aim is to continue onto a PhD in this field of research. 


  • Dr Judith Schmitz, Post-doc
  • Ms Michelle Moore, MRes student
  • Dr Rebeca Diaz, PhD student and Post-doc
  • Dr Angela Martinelli, RA and PhD student
  • Dr Monika Gostic, PhD student
  • Dr Rob Shore, PhD student
  • Dr Kerry Pettigrew, post-doc