I am a DPhil student in the research group of Prof Roger Patient, co-supervised by Dr Rui Monteiro, funded by the Wellcome Trust Chromosome and Developmental Biology programme. My research focuses on genetic controls of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) during embryonic development. We hope that thorough understanding of the molecular processes responsible for the generation of the HSCs in the embryo will allow their production for clinical applications. The HSCs, also known as blood stem cells, could be used in the future for treating blood disorders, such as immunodeficiencies or leukaemias.
In my project, I use zebrafish as a model system to better understand the involvement of two particular genes, Gata2 and Lmo4, in the early stages of making the HSCs. By using CRISPR/Cas9 and TALEN technologies, I have generated mutant zebrafish lines to study the effects of depletion of Gata2 and Lmo4 in the haematopoietic tissues. I have also used Tol2 transgenesis to generate reporter lines for monitoring the spatial and temporal activity of Gata2. I complement these approaches with transient gene knock-downs with morpholino oligos or tissue-specific overexpression with DNA constructs. As my main analysis methods, I use in situ hybridization, qRT-PCR in FACS-sorted cells, live fluorescent imaging (widefield and confocal), RNA-seq and ATAC-seq. I also have expertise in molecular cloning and immunocytochemistry.
Besides the research work, I am actively involved in public engagement and science communication. I write for the WIMM Blog and I participate in outreach events. My achievements in this field include the first prize in University of Oxford's Three-Minute Thesis Competition and second prize in the regional final of FameLab. My contributions have been recognised with MRC WIMM Public Engagement Prize 2017. Moreover, I have done statistics teaching for undergraduate Biochemistry students. I am also involved in Innovation Forum Oxford, an organisation linking academic research in healthcare and biotechnology with funders and policy makers to aid business development. Before coming to Oxford, I completed a BSc (Hons) in Genetics at the University of York. This degree included a yearlong research placement in the group of Christian Eckmann at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany.