We have established the first UK laboratory to utilize the planarian model system. The group remains, to our knowledge, the only group in the UK dedicated to exploiting the planarian model system for biomedical and evolutionary studies.
Particular highlights from the group so far have been insight into the mechanisms controlling brain and anterior regeneration (see BBSRC news here), the transcriptional dynamics of planarian stem cells, proving the utility of planarian stem cells as a model for finding novel gene functions relevant to human diseases (see BBSRC news here) and preliminary insights into the evolutionary mechanisms underpinning the potential immortality of planarians (see BBSRC news here). The level of media interest in the planarian system and impact at the level of scientific public engagement has been another highlight.
While still a research fellow I was also appointed as Director of “Deep Seq” the University of Nottingham’s Next Generation Sequencing Unit in 2009. This has led to the development of recognized expertise with respect to using NGS technologies in Developmental Biology and for studying new model species. I also organize the annual UK NGS meeting for the country's major academic sequencing units and others interested in leveraging NGS technology. In 2010 I was appointed to my first tenured position as a Lecturer in Genetics, in the School of Biology. In September 2012 the group moved to the department of Zoology at the University of Oxford.
My research program looks to leverage the planarian model system to study basic questions in relation to regeneration and stem cell biology. Furthermore, I believe we can use planarians to study the molecular mechanisms related to both aging and cancer. I am also interested in how regenerative ability has evolved and varies as a trait and am studying this within freeliving flatworms. In particular I am interested in the evolutionary interdependence of regeneration and fissiparous asexual reproductive mode. We are currently testing predictions about the adaptations these life history traits require to fundamental molecular processes; and how these might ultimately be incompatible with sexual reproduction.
MA Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge
PhD University of Edinburgh
Visiting Research Scholar, New England Biolabs, MA, USA 2003
Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley, CA, USA 2003-2006
Research Fellow, University of Nottingham, UK 2006-2010
Director of "Deep Seq", University of Nottingham, UK 2009-2012
Lecturer, University of Nottingham, UK 2010-2012
University Lecturer in Genetics, Tutorial Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, University of of Oxford, Uk 2012-current