Briefly, tell us about your background. What led you to your area of study and how are your interests evolving?
I studied biomedical science at the University of Sheffield, with a specialisation in developmental and stem cell biology. My tutor at the time, Marcelo Rivolta, had published amazing work using stem cell derived auditory neurons to successfully treat hearing loss in animal models of auditory neuropathy. I thought his work was fascinating and it is ultimately what led me to apply for the PhD programme I am currently on, the Wellcome Stem Cell and Regnerative Medicine DTP. With my previous experience and interest I was certain, at the start, that I would fall into some developmental field but I found myself doing a rotation in Peter Jones’ lab, looking at how mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) could improve the function and survival of pancreatic islets prior to transplantation for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. The MSC-islet co-culture work, and the wonderful atmosphere of the diabetes research group, led me to pick this as my final project. As I enter the final year of my PhD, I actually find I am circling back around to developmental biology, as my single cell RNASeq dataset reveals unexpected changes in MSC co-cultured islets.