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Biography

Principal Investigator and Professor of Development & Evolution, Professor Tucker holds a Wellcome Senior Investigator award to study the middle ear.

The Tucker Laboratory is interested in the development of the head, with particular focus on structures that form in association with the jaw. These include development of the dentition, development of the salivary glands, development of the jaw joint and most recently, the development of the middle ear. Formation of these structures involves complex interactions and we are interested in the signalling molecules that control patterning and shape. The research addresses questions related to human health and to evolutionary biology and uses a number of model and non-model organisms, including mouse, chick, opossum, guinea pig, shrew, bearded dragon, snake, gecko and chameleon.

Professor Tucker has a history of successful funding and has won awards for her contribution to the field of developmental biology (Cheryl Tickle Medal from the British Society of Developmental Biology 2016), New Fellow of the year award (Anatomical Society 2014) and for her supervision of PhD students (King’s faculty supervisory excellence award 2011, 2015). Her most important contributions have been in the fields of facial pattern, tooth morphogenesis, gland morphogenesis and ear development, influencing our understanding of how tissues receive instructions and achieve their normal morphology.

From this basic biology the lab has contributed to the understanding of key craniofacial disorders, such as Treacher Collins Syndrome, Di George Syndrome, Ectodermal dysplasia, LADD syndrome and Branchio-Oto-Renal syndrome.

In addition, the Tucker lab is actively involved in engaging scientifically with the public through festival stands, school visits, documentaries and museums, focusing particularly on how evolution shapes our bodies. Professor Tucker appeared in the EMMY award winning series “Your inner Fish” (PBS 2015).

Professor Tucker obtained her DPhil from Oxford University in 1996 in the lab of Prof Jonathan Slack. She then worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Guy’s Hospital, London, in the labs of Prof Paul Sharpe and Prof Andrew Lumsden. Here she started her interest in formation of the head. She set up her own lab as a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development fellow in 1999 in the MRC centre for Developmental Neurobiology at King’s. In 2002 she moved to the department of Craniofacial Development within the Dental Institute at King’s College London and was promoted to Professor in 2015. She is currently a holder of a Wellcome Senior Investigator Award. In addition the lab is currently funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) with addition grants from Action on Hearing Loss (RNID). Professor Tucker is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Fellow of the Anatomical Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is a member of the Editorial board of the Journal of Anatomy, Journal of Dental Research and Developmental Dynamics and sits on grant panels for the Wellcome Trust, Action on Hearing Loss and the Anatomical Society.