PhD, MRes, BSc (Hons)
I consider myself a developmetal biologist and am currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in the de Bruijn lab. The overall question is: How is a blood stem cell generated during early development? We want to identify cellular intermediates, specific molecular signatures and potential signalling pathways that guide the development of a blood stem cell. Knowledge of these processes will inform the development of suitable protocols in culture, maintain and even generate these cells in a laboratory setting. Ultimately, this research will contribute to the development of novel stem cell-based therapies.
During my PhD in the de Bruijn lab I have developed novel tools to study developmetal haematopoiesis and in particular I have characterised a more specific marker for hemogenic endothelium. To establish such tools, I have generated transgenic reporter mouse lines and studied the embryonic expression pattern, molecular signature and functional potential of reporter-marked cells using the state-of-the-art facilities available at the WIMM, such as advanced microscopy, FACS, single cell RNA-Seq as well as molecular biology and cell culture techniques.
Currently I am piloting a new project which assesses the origin of the entire haematopoietic system. For this, I am utelising my previous experience of micro-injection, to fate map specific segments of the preimitive streak mesoderm to different hemogenic endothelial populations. The current project is in line with my future aspirations of developing my career into the early cell fate decisions during embryonic development.
In addition to scientific projects I am heavily involved in public outreach projects and science communication assignments. I believe such communication skills make me a better scientist and aid in educating the public of the significance of basic science. I often volunteer for various science festivals (Pint of Science, Curiosity Festival, MRC centinary festival etc.) and am a freelance illustrator and graphics designer for scientific content (Bang!, The EMBO Journal, iGEM, WIMM blog, www.christinarode.com). Recently I have also started generating scientific animations to better explain my research (https://youtu.be/Z5S3XevT4U4).