ISSCR travel awards for Watt Lab Alumni
Congratulations to Watt Lab Alumni Dr Kai Kretzschmar (left) and Dr Kif Liakath’Ali (right) who were awarded the ISSCR Zhongmei Chen Yong Travel Awards for Scientific Excellence to attend and give oral presentations at the recent ISSCR annual conference at Melbourne, Australia.
International Women's Day 2018
Professor Fiona Watt was delighted to be included in Pricilla Chan's facebook post for International Women's Day 2018 highlighting some of the brilliant women that are partnering with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Professor Watt was among four women including clinician scientist Dr. Menna Clatworthy from Cambridge University, Dr. Samantha Morris from Washington University and Dr. Anindita Basu from the University of Chicago who's contribution to the Human Cell Atlas and science in general was celebrated by Pricilla.
Prestigious EMBO fellowships awarded to 3 CSCRM researchers
Dr Rognoni was awarded an EMBO Advanced Fellowship, a highly competitive award which is awarded to just five fellows per year. This fellowship will allow Dr Rognoni to continue to his work on dermal fibroblast lineage function and identity during development and disease. In the course of his fellowship he wants to uncover the underlying molecular signalling networks of fibroblast lineage specification and behaviour during skin development and wound healing. He will also investigate how fibroblast lineages respond to environmental stress such as acute and chronic UV irradiation. The overall aim of Dr Rognoni’s work is to identify key factors that will enable the control and manipulation of lineage-specific fibroblast behaviour and composition for therapeutic applications in skin and potentially other tissues.
Miguel has been awarded an EMBO Long-term Fellowship to work on elucidating the molecular basis underlying the dedifferentiation process of fully committed cells in response to injury, a mechanism that relies on cellular plasticity and through which tissues can regenerate.
Dr Liakath’Ali has been awarded an EMBO Long-term Fellowship to work on the mechanism of alternative splicing in synaptic transmission, a process that occurs when one brain cell signals to another. He will be carrying out this work at Professor Thomas Südhof’s lab in Stanford University School of Medicine, USA.
Professor Watt announced as government’s preferred candidate to be the Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council (MRC)
Professor Watt has been selected as the government’s preferred candidate to be the Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council (MRC) when it becomes a constituent part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in April 2018. She takes on the role from Sir John Savill who steps down from his post as MRC’s CEO at the end of March.
When asked about Professor Watt’s appointment, Sir John commented:
“I am delighted that Professor Fiona Watt has been selected as the government’s preferred candidate to be the first Executive Chair of MRC, succeeding me when I leave the current CEO role at the end of March 2018. Fiona is an outstanding scientist and will bring many new ideas to MRC and UKRI, strengthening still further MRC’s commitment to discovery science for human health. She is a wonderful role model for many younger biomedical scientists in the UK medical research community. As the MRC enters its second 105 years as part of UKRI, I am sure that Fiona is well placed to lead the MRC to continuing successes”.
Operating across the whole of the UK and with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UKRI will bring together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England. UKRI comes into existence on Sunday 1 April next year and is tasked to ensure the UK maintains its world leadership in research and innovation; the role of the Executive Chair is therefore crucial to delivering this key mission.
The MRC Executive Chair role is potentially subject to a pre-appointment hearing by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. This is currently being considered by the Committee and if requested will be arranged in the New Year.
Professor Watt’s selection for this prestigious role is testament to her outstanding work in the field of stem cells over many years. A Cambridge graduate, followed by a doctorate from Oxford in cell biology, Fiona established her first research group at the Kennedy Institute for Rheumatology and then spent 20 years at the CRUK London Research Institute (now part of the Francis Crick Institute). She helped to establish the CRUK Cambridge Research Institute and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research, moving to King's in 2012 to found the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine.
Fiona is currently Vice-Dean of Research for the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine and Director of the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine at King’s. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her awards include the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) Women in Cell Biology Senior Award, Presidency of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, the Hunterian Society Medal and the FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award. In 2016 she was also awarded Doctor Honoris Causa of the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.
Sir Mark Walport, UKRI CEO Designate, said: “Professor Fiona Watt is a distinguished biomedical scientist who will be an outstanding leader of the Medical Research Council. I am delighted she has been selected as the government’s preferred candidate for the role of MRC Executive Chair.”
Fiona will continue with her research and leadership of the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine at King’s on a part-time basis once she takes on the role of Executive Chair of the MRC.
Professor Watt awarded funding from the Chan Zuckerberg initiative for Human Cell Atlas Project
Professor Watt is one of 38 research groups from institutions in 8 countries across 4 continents that have been awarded funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation (CZI) to fund work on the Human Cell Atlas. The Human Cell Atlas is a global collaboration to map and characterize all cells in a healthy human body: cell types, numbers, locations, relationships, and molecular components. Once complete, it will be a fundamental resource for scientists, allowing them to better understand how healthy cells work, and what goes wrong when disease strikes.
Professor Watt’s project entitled “Optimizing the collection, isolation and visualization of cells from healthy human skin” will contribute to the skin branch of the Human Cell Atlas.
CSCRM member awarded Image of Distinction in Nikon Small World Competition
"Skin Tree" by Dr Kif Liakath-Ali shows nerves (in green) under the skin of a mouse (hair follicles are shown in red and blue)
Nikon Small World is an annual photomicrography competition which is regarded as the leading forum for showcasing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope. This year’s competition received over 2,000 entries from 88 countries. Kif’s stunning “Skin tree” confocal microscope image was awarded the honour of "Image of Distinction" and will be added to the collection of images that decorate the walls of Nikon Imaging Centre at King’s. For more details and other fantastic winning images click here.
Professor Watt particpates in Centre of Research Excellence (CellPAT) in Denmark
The National Danish Research Foundation has announced that it will give 61 million DKK (£7 million) to fund the Centre for Cellular Signal Patterns (CellPAT) led by Professor Jorgen Kjems.
CellPAT brings together world-leaders in the fields of cell signaling (Professor Fiona Watt, King’s College London), nano-scale bioengineering (Professor Jorgen Kjems and Professor Duncan Sutherland, Aarhus University, Denmark), immunology (Professor Steffan Thiel, Aarhus University) and high resolution molecular imaging (Professor Ralf Jungmann, Max Planck University, Germany) in order to understand how cells communicate with their surroundings.
By focusing on 3 key research areas in cell signaling, CellPAT aims to unravel how cells receive and process complex instructions:
Studying how exactly our immune cells recognise “danger signals” on pathogens and distinguishes them from “safe signals” on our own cells.
Investigating how cells recognise certain vesicles located outside the cell and allows them to enter the cell by crossing the cell membrane.
Understanding how stem cells recognise extracellular signals that control their growth and development.
The researchers at CellPAT envision that their work will provide the foundation for the development of multiple new therapy strategies such as the development of immune-modulating drugs, delivering precision medicine to cells (such as gene-therapy) or using a patient’s own stem cells repair tissues damaged by disease.
New Group Leaders in the CSCRM
We're excited to announce that Dr Rocio Sancho will be setting up her lab in the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine in 2017.
Rocio Sancho obtained her PhD in immunology at the University of Cordoba (Spain). She completed her postdoctoral research in the Mammalian Genetics lab at the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute where she specialised in studying intestinal tissue stem cells and their function in homeostasis and cancer. As a Senior Scientist in the Adult Stem Cell lab at the Francis Crick Institute she turned her interests in mammalian cell differentiation to the study of cell fate decisions in adult pancreatic progenitors and began to explore their potential to treat diabetes.
Dr Sancho is fascinated by the inherent plasticity of seemingly differentiated pancreatic cells and the molecular cues behind cell fate changes. Her work uncovered a latent capacity for regeneration in the pancreas, which could be harnessed to replace crucial insulin-producing cells lost to disease. She will set up her lab in April 2017 at CSCRM King’s College London to decipher the fundamental regulatory networks involved in cell fate decisions, and to apply this knowledge to new strategies in regenerative medicine for diabetes
We’re excited to announce that Dr. Alexis Lomakin has been awarded a King's Fellowship to enable him to set up his lab at the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine in 2017.
Dr. Lomakin is currently a Marie Curie Fellow and PRESTIGE Fellow in the lab of Dr. Matthieu Piel at the Institut Curie in Paris, France. The Piel lab uses bioengineering and quantitative approaches to understand how immune cells squeeze their way through the crowded environment inside a human body: https://vimeo.com/193754229/305f258b22
Building upon his experience acquired in the Piel lab, Alexis would like to focus his future research efforts on understanding how cancer cells and stem cells process information from their immediate mechanochemical environment to generate adaptive outputs and how such outputs affect sensitivity of the cells to pharmacological perturbations.
To learn more about Dr. Lomakin's research and academic activities, please visit:
https://alexislomakin.wordpress.com/about/ and https://twitter.com/AlexisLomakin
Honorary Doctorate Award for Professor Watt
Professor Watt was delighted to be invited to Spain recently to receive a Doctor Honoris Causa from UAM (Autonomous University of Madrid), an award which also honours their institution.
Professor Watt receives her honorary doctorate from Rector Professor José M Sanz.
April 2016 - Interview with HipSci
HighContentReview.com recently caught up with CSCRM's Dr Davide Danovi, and Project Manager Reena Halai, to find out about the HipSci project...
You can read the full interview here...
February 2016 - Professor Fiona Watt receives Women in Science Award
Professor Watt has been announced as the winner of the 2016 FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award.
She’s received the award for uncovering the mechanisms that control mammalian epidermal stem cell renewal and differentiation, and for discovering how these processes are deregulated in cancer, wound healing and inflammatory skin disorders; in addition to recognition for her commitment to gender issues, her leadership qualities and her active mentorship of junior scientists.
For more details, please visit the EMBO website.
December 2015 - CSCRM celebrates official launch
Professor Sir Robert Lechler (Vice-Principal [Health]) and Professor Fiona Watt (Director, Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine) welcomed guests from King's, and the wider scientific community, to celebrate the official launch of CSCRM. Extensive refurbishment of the Centre, which enjoys enviable views from the 28th floor of Guy's hospital tower, has resulted in a world-class research facility for scientists investigating mechanisms of stem cell regulation. The Centre currently attracts funding from sources including the Wellcome Trust and MRC.
You can see pictures from the night - including our special guest "Albert Einstein" - here...
In the build up to the launch RegMedNet, a leading online community for regenerative medicine professionals, featured content including interviews with members of the Centre, Professor Sir Robert Lechler and a panel discussion with key leaders of the Centre on challenges and opportunities in cell therapies. This content can be found here.
November 2015 - CSCRM in RegMedNet's spotlight
RegMedNet, an online network uniting the regenerative medicine community, is featuring our Centre in their 'spotlight' this month. Simply sign up online (for free) to view exclusive video content - including an interview with Professsor Watt in which she discusses her experiences in the field, current research and hopes for the Centre's achievements. Access the RegMedNet website here...
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