Key Research Interests and Expertise

We work to genetically dissect the role/s of Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF)/ FGF receptor (FGFR) signaling system in mammalian organogenesis and adult stem cell function. In the past, we have elucidated these roles in the developing craniofacial sutures, axial skeleton, limbs, lungs, genitalia, submandibular glands and the developing nervous system. Our model organism and research tool is transgenic mice that allow lineage tracing in conjunction with loss and gain-of function in FGFs, FGFRs or FGF signaling mediator genes. In particular, we have generated and studied gain-of-FGFR1 and FGFR2 mutant mice that model two congenital craniosynostosis diseases: Pfeiffer and Apert syndromes. Currently we are interested in novel populations of slow-dividing/ quiescent stem/progenitor cells in the postnatal/adult brain, with a view to understanding their normal role in brain function and exploiting their potential to alter physiology and brain repair. In particular, a novel neurogenic niche in the postnatal and adult hypothalamus, wherein tanycytes that express FGF10 act as neural stem cells and supply the hypothalamic neural circuits with new neurons. Our in vivo studies are complimented by in vitro and ex vivo model systems to delineate the molecular role of FGF signaling in stem/ progenitor cell growth and differentiation. 

Current Research Projects

  • Investigation of the stem cells and the dynamics of neurogenesis in the adult hypothalamus
  • Cellular and molecular basis of neurological defects in Apert syndrome
  • Role of FGF signaling in the development of muscle and tendon progenitors


Life in our research group

We are based in the Biomedical Research Centre (BMRC) of the School of Biological Science, where we enjoy dynamic interactions with scientists of different background, from stem cell biologists and immunologists, to virologist and neuroscientists. BMRC provides a friendly atmosphere for sharing equipment, technical expertise and floor discussions. We also have ongoing collaborative studies with colleagues based in UK, USA, Japan, France and Finland, through which we share expertise, reagents and transgenic mice. We regularly use immunocytochemistry on tissue sections and cultured neural cells derived from the embryonic and adult rodent brain. Images generated from our work have won several prizes, including the annual Olympus competitions of 2007 and 2009 and runner up prize of ASGBI society in 2011..

Current lab Members

  • Timothy G. Goodman (BBSRC-funded Post-doc)
  • Benediktas Kaminskas (BBSRC DTP funded PhD student)
  • Stuart Nayar (BBSRC DTP funded PhD student)
  • Hannah Felstead (Anatomical Soc of GB&I funded PhD student)
  • Shaun Clare (BBSRC-funded Laboratory Assistant)
  • Estela Perez Santamarina (BBSRC DTP funded PhD student)
  • Arron Reed (MSc Student)

ALUMNI:

  • Neil Sparshott
  • Irina Djackova
  • Benita Turner Bridger
  • Alaleh Nadji-Samiei
  • Niels Haan
  • Ben Jevans
  • Theoni Ingrid Demcollari
  • Sumi Shrestha
  • Terence Neale
  • Ben Warner
  • Andrew Loveday
  • Christina M. Stratford
  • Jacob Beebe
  • Julia Mundy
  • Marta Mikolajczak 

PhD Positions

Click here for current PhD opportunities in Biological Sciences. But feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

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