A Level Student work experience October 2017 - ‘A week in the life of a zebrafish researcher’

Every year we host about 8 A Level Students from various schools and introduce them to the zebrafish as a model system. This year’s bunch was particularly lively and enthusiastic.

They explored a few standard lab techniques, such as (fluorescent) in situ hybridization ((F)ISH), they sorted embryos by phenotype into mutants and siblings and verified the genotype using PCR. Using light-, fluorescent- and confocal microscopy students analysed and documented their (F)ISH results and compared the potential uses of their applied techniques to that of transgenic animals.  Finally, students had a short workshop on animal behaviour and learning including hunting, exploratory and circadian/sleep behaviour. Finally, students show-cased their results and what they learned in a presentation which led to a spirited discussion of all topics covered – and beyond. Great fun for everyone involved!

" I would just like to thank you for the incredible experience at the Wilson Lab this week. It was invaluable learning about a career in scientific research and challenging my current A level knowledge. The experience has made me feel more confident for my university interviews and has confirmed my love of science! It was extremely well structured and I am so grateful to everyone who taught us throughout the week. "

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Nvidia Grant to Bianco Lab

The Nvidia Corporation have generously given a hardware grant to the Bianco Lab.

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Pictured right is Asaph with the Titan Xp (the world's most powerful grahics card), which we will be using for training Artificial Neural Networks to glean insights into sensorimotor processing.

Be upstanding for the outstanding Dr Lekk!

Congratulations to our most recent Doctor Ingrid Lekk from the Wilson Lab. We are incredibly proud of you! Wishing you all the best for your future!

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Masterful performances from our MSc students.

MSc student Jan wins project prize and is nominated for the Dean's list.

Jan joined the Wilson Lab in October 2016 to conduct his MSc Neuroscience final research project, working with Ana and Gareth to further our understanding of how habenular asymmetries are established in embryonic development.

Jan has recently defended his MSc thesis and we couldn’t be prouder of him! Not only did he graduate with distinction, but also won the prize for the best project and has been nominated for the Dean's List.

Sydney Leaman gets a distinction and the highest mark in his cohort for his project on the role of Mab21l2 in eye formation.

Sydney Leaman is a medicine student who performed his MSc project under the supervision of Leo Valdivia in the Wilson Lab. He studied part of the genetic and molecular events that lead to successful eye development. In particular he focused on the role of Mab21l2, a gene that is essential for eye formation in humans but whose function is unknown. Using the zebrafish model, Sydney tried to unravel the interaction between Mab21l2 and the TGF-β/BMP pathway n viv. Analysing mutant fish he found that ab21l modulates the TGF-β/BMP pathway signalling to regulate the size of the eye. Furthermore, he used Crispr/Cas9 technology to perform sophisticated genome engineering to tag the endogenous ab21l locus. 

The information and tools developed by Sydney will illuminate the role of Mab21l2 and will be used for future purification of Mab21l2 in complex with its binding partners. Finding the interactome of Mab21l2 will provide valuable data to understand vertebrate eye development in health and disease

Congratulations Jan & Sydney! We wish you lots of luck and every success in your future career.

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Welcome Asaph!

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Welcome to Asaph Zylbertal who has just joined the Bianco lab.

BIGKIDS go to the Zebrafish Lab

This summer the Zebrafish Lab at UCL, in collaboration with Native Scientist (http://www.nativescientist.com/), had the opportunity to host a unique workshop for young people from the BIGKID Foundation (https://www.bigkidfoundation.org/).

In our lab we are dedicated to promoting science and critical thinking through outreach and education of young people from the most diverse backgrounds. It seemed only natural that we would partner up with Native Scientist, an award-winning non-profit organisation aimed to empower immigrant communities through science outreach.

The BIGKID Foundation is a youth charity whose goal is to mentor, motivate and inspire young people at risk of social exclusion. The Portuguese-speaking community in Lambeth is notoriously isolated and as a result few young people go on to explore careers in the field of science. The UCL Zebrafish Lab, Native Scientist and BIGKID liaised to organize a unique summer workshop, where young people from Lambeth’s Portuguese-speaking community had the chance to get an insight on what a career in science might look like.

Ana, Pedro and Renato – our Portuguese-speaking lab members – where very happy to tell our guests all about our favourite model system and to explain the big scientific questions behind the experiments we do in the lab. Our guests also had the opportunity to get some hands-on experience working with zebrafish. We had a lot of fun together! We hope their visit not only gave them an appreciation of why we love science so much, but also inspired them to further their studies in STEM subjects.

To read more about this workshop, visit: https://www.facebook.com/nativescientist1/posts/1119567221477267

Thank you to André Pereira, the outreach officer from the BIGKID foundation, for his work and help. A big thank you to Joana Moscoso and Sara Marques, from the Native Scientist team, who worked so hard making this collaboration and workshop possible. Lastly, thank you to Inês Baptista and Rita Oliveira for their contribution during the workshop.

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Congratulations Elena!

The Sir Henry Dale Fellowship has awarded to Elena Dreosti. She will be setting up her new group working on social behaviour at UCL so we can still see her often. 

International Zebrafish Meeting

Forget Disneyland the most exciting thing happening in Florida this summer is Ana Faro’s talk at the International Zebrafish Meeting. Sorry Mickey! 

Lisbon learning

Four zebrafish PhD students have spent their summer learning, teaching and eating pasteis de nata on the Advanced Behaviour Technology at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.

Research image featured on BBC website

A research image from the Zebrafish Brain Atlas (zebrafishbrain.org) by PhD student Kate Turner is featured in a BBC article on tracking cells in the embryo.