We are a group of scientists collectively interested in regeneration and stem cells, and more generally in evolution and development. We work with the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea as our primary model system, and more recently we have started to look at other closely and ore distantly related flatworms. We are also interested in other existing and potentially novel models of animal regeneration among invertebrate
We have decided that as scientists substantively (or often just potentially) funded by public money we should be doing more to engage the public. Certainly more than providing fairly sparse information, which is accessible and of interest to between several dozen to occasionally several hundred other scientists in our field. So we now have a Website -and Blog.
Our aim is to make our posts as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, dependent on their intended audience. Bear in mind though that science can be complicated so occasionally some posts that are dealing with a very specific topic might be diffciult for non-experts (or experts to follow). In fact we envisage not always understanding each other's posts. But the great things is that because this is a dynamic website - and Blog, anyone can leave a comment and get involved! So if you don't understand something you can always just ask!
Friday, 18 January 2013 at 2:20 pm
Our work on the planarian ortholog of the TALE class homeobox protein PBX/extradenticle has been published in the journal "Development". This work was begun by Daniel Felix during his PhD thesis where he observed a very strong phenotype for this gene whilw focused on charactering another TALE class Homeobox called PREP. Robert followed this up with a very comprehensive set of experiments to characterise exactly what pbx does in planarians. Robert in particular deserves a lot of recogniton for coming in as a planarian novice and being so productive and thoughtful about the project in such a short period of time. Belen then helped tie up some loose ends with some "essential experiments before the paper could be published" that the reviewers kindly thought up (hence the burgeoning suppplementary information for this paper). While these were interesting they didn't add much to the main findings and may actually have made it harder for other groups (for example working on the order events that lead to midline specification) to publish more focuses studies in this area.
Overall we are really excited as pbx seems to have a central role in allowing stem cells and the their progeny to interpret their position. We think that it may be a key player in providing coordinate positional information to differentiating cells during regeneration as it has the potential to interact with large number fo cofactors when controling gene expression and act downstream of many signalling cascades. We hope to pursue our findings by looking at the detail of what and how pbx and prep regulate to confer positional information.
Also in the same issue of Development is a another paper on the same gene from Peter Reddien's group at MIT/Whitehead. We think the papers are very complementary and we are grateful too Peter for taking the decision to wait for our paper to be reconsidered after the paper from his group was accepted. We took little longer to add experiments to investigate eye regeneration, midline patterning, pharynx regeneration and in situs on sections requested by the reviewers.
You can check out the paper here
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 at 7:10 pm
At the end of last year Peter Holland, the Head of Department, had the interesting idea that a few of us should get together and edit Wikipedia pages. It was an enjoyable day, where about 30 of us gathered in the brand new Elton room to be taught some of the basics of editing by two Wikimedia trainers. One of these was Charles Matthews, Wikimedia volunteer and project leader of the virtual learning environment project, who very patiently took us through some of the command lines to get started, and by the end of the day I think most of us had improved at least one page. So why were we all so excited about doing this?
Friday, 10 August 2012 at 1:03 pm
The lab will move physically over the summer and we will officially start in Oxford on October 1st. We will be based in the Department of Zoology at Oxford, and Aziz will be attached to Lady Margaret Hall as A Tutor in Biological Sciences.
Damian, Belen, Yuliana and Ellen are all coming too.
Wednesday, 11 April 2012 at 10:22 pm
Our preliminary work studying the telomere biology of planarians received widespread media attention. As a result we have received a lot of questions from people (non-scientists) who were excited by the media reports.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 at 1:57 pm
We've launched the new version of the Aboobaker lab website. We are using PivotX to power our backend CMS (content management system). Most of the content is still not filled in yet. We will be doing that throughout the week. Please check back in a couple of days for more content.
Monday, 07 January 2013 at 02:54 am
When I was a child, I had this persistent belief that I will live forever. Recently, I have been thinking if living forever is indeed a tangible thing or science fiction. To understand and think about ways of delaying or stopping ageing altogether, we need a solid definition of what constitutes ageing first. Without having any claims of being an expert in the field, I am going to try and present a comprehensive definition of the process and discuss some interesting directions in the field.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 10:43 am
The Woodstock Road Delhi, 15 Woodstock Road, Oxford, www.oxfordfinefood.com
On the edge of St Giles and heading into Jericho this little lunchtime eatery serves some of the most wholesome food I have eaten, at prices out of tune with some of its expensive neighbours. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, their is reasonable wireless access and a spread of plug points, making this a dangerous territory for anyone prone to procrastination... especially since the coffee is right up their with the best I've had. But it is at lunchtime that this place comes alive.
Staffed by a revolving team of friendly staff this delhi has many shelves of fru-fru wines, coffees, sauces and cheese but it is the freshly cooked lunchtime fair that brings the local workforce, students and academics in their droves. On the busiest days in full swing their is sweet spot of 10 minutes just around 1 o'clock when every seat is taken and the queue from the serving counter reaches the door and customers exchange awkward looks as they position themselves for the next seat. I like to arrive 20-30 minutes earlier and deliberate over a Flat White (the coffee is excellent, but slightly dependent on which member of the team makes it for you).
Lunch consists of a main course of one of 3-4 options, at least one of which is vegetarian. These range from stews and tangines with beef or lamb through too lentil dahl, often served with rice, cous cous or some other carb source. But the kicker is the salad choice that goes with these. 6-7 exotically colourful salads await you perusal and the standard lunch deal allows you to pick two helpings of these. Finally you get to choose whether or not to top everything with a spoon of mixed toasted seeds (its always a rhetorical question).
With the bill weighing in at a diminuitive £6 (if you include a soft drink) even our graduate students can afford to eat here.
Tuesday, 06 November 2012 at 9:34 pm
Stem cells have revolutionised the field of biological research. The holy grail of the stem cell research have been embryonic stem cells whose harvesting and exploitation is drowned in controversy because of their origin. A well-known fact is that these cells are totipotent, i.e. capable of differentiating into virtually any other cell type. However, programmed for fast growth, they bear a high risk of tumor formation post-transplantation (Nussbaum et al., 2007; Wakitani et al., 2003) and are subject to potential rejection by the host recipient.
Tuesday, 06 November 2012 at 9:22 pm
Edamame, 15 Holywell Street. Oxford www.edamame.co.uk
Tucked away from the painfully beautiful town center on Holywell Street is this charming little restaurant. When we arrived, there was quite a good spirited queue of people standing outside and we too soon found ourselves cheerily waiting for a table. Once we stepped inside we knew we were on to a winner. The place was tiny, no bigger than an average living room and it was full of people all eating ‘family style’ and sharing their choices from the fairly trim lunch menu. The atmosphere was so relaxed that it felt like having food at a mates; and that is the vibe that Edameme has intentionally contracted –with their super fresh and super authentic Japanese style cooking.
For a really reasonable £8 all main dishes came with rice and the best miso soup I have ever tasted..Oh and a cup of green tea. Frankly it was totally sensational and well worth a visit!
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 at 12:25 pm
Regeneration is the process by which animals replace tissue or structures after they are lost. Regeneration abilities vary within the Animal Kingdom. For example, many invertebrates such as planarians and hydra can regenerate all of their bodies even after they have been cut into small pieces. Some vertebrates are also capable of complex regeneration. Salamanders and zebrafish are research model systems which regenerate a plethora of body parts, including limbs and heart. However, mammals have limited regenerative ability and in humans and mice it is limited to regeneration of digits in childhood and liver regeneration.