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Dr Petra Vertes

Dr Petra Vertes

Lecturer in Systems and Computation Neuroscience


I lead the Systems and Computational Neuroscience group in the Department of Psychiatry at Cambridge University. I am also a Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute in London and a Visiting Scientist in the Neurobiology Division at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

My research applies tools from physics, engineering and network science to fundamental problems in neuroscience and mental health. In particular, I am interested in the structure-function relationship in brain networks, from the microscopic scale of neurons to the large-scale connectivity of brain regions, in both health and disease.

I work with a wide variety of multivariate data, including genetic and transcriptomic data, flow cytometry and neuroimaging data. I also study simpler organisms, such as C. elegans, which provide a testbed for methodological innovations as well as insights into generalisable aspects of brain organisation, brain development, network dysfunction and repair.

I received a masters degree in theoretical physics and a PhD in artificial neural networks from the University of Cambridge, UK. I am also one of the co-founders and organizers of the Cambridge Networks Network (CNN), a forum for academics across different disciplines who share an interest in Network Science. In 2014 I was awarded an MRC fellowship in Bioinformatics. In 2016, I was named to Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers for my work as part of the NSPN consortium, merging insights from brain imaging with gene expression data from the Allen Brain Atlas.

Departments and Institutes



  • network
  • neuroimaging
  • connectivity
  • psychiatry
  • neuroscience

Key Publications

Váša F, Romero-Garcia R, Kitzbichler M, Seidlitz J, Whitaker K, ..., Vertes PE*, Bullmore ET* (2020), “Conservative and disruptive modes of adolescent change in human brain functional connectivity.” PNAS 117 (6) 3248-3253

Romero-Garcia R, Seidlitz J, Whitaker KJ, Morgan SE, Fonagy P, Dolan RJ, Jones PB, ..., Vértes PE*, Bullmore ET* (2020), “Schizotypy-related magnetization of cortex in healthy adolescence is colocated with expression of schizophrenia-related genes” Biological Psychiatry 88(3): 248-259

Etkin A*, Fonzo G*,Wu W*, Huemer J*, Patenaude B*, Vértes PE*, et al. (2019), “Using fMRI connectivity to define a treatment-resistant form of post-traumatic stress disorder” Science Translational Medicine 11 (486) eaal3236.

Morgan SE, Seidlitz J, Whitaker KJ, Romero-Garcia R, Clifton NE, Scarpazza C, van Amelsvoort T, Marcelis M, … , Vértes PE*, Bullmore ET*. (2019), “Cortical patterning of abnormal morphometric similarity in psychosis is associated with brain expression of schizophrenia-related genes.” PNAS 116 (19) 9604-9609.

Leday G*, Vértes PE*, Richardson S, Greene JR, Khan S, Henderson R, Freeman TC, Regan T, Pariante CM, Harrison NA, MRC Immunopsychiatry Consortium, Perry HV, Drevets WC, Wittenberg GM and Bullmore ET (2018), “Replicable and coupled changes in innate and adaptive immune gene expression in two case-control studies of blood microarrays in major depressive disorder” Biological Psychiatry 83 (1) 70-80.

Yan G*, Vértes PE*, Towlson EK*, Chew YL, Walker DS, Schafer WR, Barabási AL (2017), “Network control principles predict neuron function in the Caenorhabditis elegans connectome” Nature 550 (7677): 519-523

Whitaker KJ*, Vértes PE*, Romero-Garcia R, Váša F, Moutoussis M, Prabhu G, Weiskopf N, Callaghan MF, Wagstyl K, Rittman T, Tait R, Ooi C, Suckling J, Inkster B, Fonagy P, Dolan RJ, Jones PB, Goodyer IM, Bullmore ET, NSPN Consortium (2016), “Adolescence is associated with genomically patterned consolidation of the hubs of the human brain connectome.” PNAS 113 (32), 9105-9110

Bentley B, Branicky R, Barnes CL, Chew YL, Yemini E, Bullmore ET, Vértes PE*, Schafer WR* (2016), “The multilayer connectome of Caenorhabditis elegans” Plos Com Bio 12 (12) e1005283

Vértes PE, Rittman T, Whitaker KJ, Romero-Garcia R, Váša F, Kitzbichler MG, Wagstyl K, Fonagy P, Dolan RJ, Jones PB, Goodyer IM, Bullmore ET, NSPN Consortium (2016), “Gene transcription profiles associated with inter-modular hubs and connection distance in human functional magnetic resonance imaging networks.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 371, 20150362.

Nicosia V, Vértes PE, Schafer WR, Latora V, Bullmore ET (2013), “Phase transition in the economically modeled growth of a cellular nervous system.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110(19):7880-5 Details

Towlson EK, Vértes PE, Ahnert SE, Schafer WR, Bullmore ET (2013), “The rich club of the C. elegans neuronal connectome.” J Neurosci 33(15):6380-7 Details

Vértes PE, Alexander-Bloch AF, Gogtay N, Giedd JN, Rapoport JL, Bullmore ET (2012), “Simple models of human brain functional networks.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109(15):5868-73 Details