Lee in teaching mode

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Lee (second from right) in small group teaching mode.

Lee Troughton has been with my lab for almost 4 years now (MRes and PhD) and as the time has passed I have relied more and more heavily on him to know what is going on in the lab and helping everyone new get going. With each passing year as the number of people in my group and my teaching and administration commitments grow this is becoming more and more apparent; whenever I say to a new student that they should do XX experiment it is almost always immediately followed by “Lee was doing that recently, get him to show you his protocol ….etc”

A new level has been reached today where he is now teaching small groups of students. Not just from my lab, he’s the guy to go to for multiple departments within the institute! The image above has Lee teaching western blotting to people working on muscular skeletal biology, glaucoma, and aniridia at MRes and PhD level and at least three other MRes from two other PIs were out of shot when I took this.

The thing is, Lee is in his last 5 months in the lab and is frantically trying to submit two manuscripts and has the small matter of a thesis to write before his funding finishes in November! Obviously I should get him to focus on his own work but its just too valuable to the team and to the others in the institute.

This has been going on for ages, so why the blog post? Well, I was amused by an email that I was cc’d into last night where he set out his practical class to the 8 people in his western lesson… mostly for the final line which has really struck home how much above and beyond he really is going. Well played Lee.

Will be doing some blots tomorrow, from start to primary Ab incubation overnight @4*C.  I have sent the protocol I use out already, remember that this is by no means the best for you, but it has been optimized for my proteins of interest, using the equipment and reagents we have.

9am- making the acrylamide gels

11am- running the gels

12pm- setting up the transfer

2.30pm- imaging the membrane and blocking

4-pm- adding the primary Ab

Then on Thursday:

9am- washing the membrane

9.15am- adding the second Ab

10.30am- washing the membrane

11am- imaging the membrane

 

I have loads to do tomorrow, and have our journal club 10-11am, so will have to crack on from the times stated above.

 

 

 

They grow up so fast – NWCR symposium

Today was the Northwest Cancer Research annual symposium held in the stunning, Harry Potter-esque, Victoria Gallery on the IMG_20130714_180621
University of Liverpool campus.

Lots of excellent, inspiring talks including two of my long-term favourites; actin remodelling and RhoGTPases, and integrin signalling. The notebook is full of the next set of experiments and grant ideas! (Thanks Mark)

There was also a thoroughly impressive poster session, displaying the diverse, excellent cancer research work going on in Liverpool, Bangor and Lancaster.

Included in that  poster session, Lee Troughton and Valentina Barrera

C-fSHW1XoAI6tn2.jpg-largepresented our new splice regulation story in LAMA3 that is beginning to really take off. Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to grab a photo with Vale so its just Lee on this edition of the obligatory “they grow up so fast”.

Lee moaned extensively about his quads hurting while squatting down to take this picture so I made him pose for 10 more, saying it was out of focus…

I also captured his response to finding out about the unnecessary extras. Totally worth it

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Mini (or squatting) Lee

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They grow up so fast – MRes Spring 2017

April time again and the end of another block of MRes Clinical Sciences projects. This time the Hamill lab hosted three students; Kareem Hassanin, Conro Conro Sugden and Tobi Oyewole. Today the boys had their presentations/poster session.

First up; Conro told his story of developing our new minigene construct to investigate LaNt regulation and testing a few mutant versions of it to prove it works. Conor, with Lee Troughton’s help, did some excellent work; generating flo2017-04-13 15.38.50w cytometry,
RT-PCR, western blotting and fluorescence microscopy images that demonstrate that our new system is effective for studying intron retention and alternative polyadenylation and showing that the exon 9 splice site has a big role to play in determining splicing efficiency. His data has gone straight into a grant application and should form the starting point for the next stage of the LaNt project.

Next, Tobi under 20170413_120630the joint supervision of myself and Colin Willoughby and working alongside Fight For Sight student Thanos, worked on determining the optimal delivery mechanism and conditions for delivering small RNA molecules into corneal epithelial cells. This work is critical first step for the the next stage of Thanos’ PhD studies and, although Tobi was frustrated at times, makes a big difference to the lab. Optimisation is the biggest part of all experiments, without these steps we wouldn’t be able to ask the big questions.

Finally, Kareem working alongside Dr Valentina Barrera and using samples kindly provided by Prof Geor20170413_141809ge Bou Gharios, optimised our new rabbit anti-mouse LaNt antibody staining protocol and then did the first staining of embryos and various tissues in the adult. These are really short projects and filled with frustration as just at the very end, Kareem finally had conditions nailed down to get super clean, specific, staining that has opened up a whole range of new options and research questions. One thousand emails bounced back and forward yesterday as he tried to identify all the structures that were and were not stained. Although super cool, really this is just the beginning; knowing where the protein is automatically generates the question of what it is doing in that location as we predict that LaNt function is context specific, so these data too will lay the groundwork for the next grant(s) and next paper.

All in all, a really productive 3 months. Looking forward to the next block…

 

They grow up so fast – BSID 2017 edition

This week PhD student Lee Troughton and I have been attending the British Society for Investigative Dermatology meeting in exotic Manchester.

Lee presented some of our recent findings in poster form. This is the first time we have rolled out this new story and, so far, the response has been very positive.

Loads of data including contributions from Valentina Barrera and Conro Sugden. If anyone in the IACD was wondering why Lee was frantically running 1000s of qPCRs last week, check out the graphs in the bottom left. Nothing like the impending deadline to give a sense of urgency! However, the findings are really interesting and have opened up some really nice questions.

It’s also cool to be back at the BSID after many years away. I think my first “real” conference presentation was at a BSID in Oxford during my PhD where I presented some of our very preliminary data describing the first identification of the alternative splice isoforms that we now call the LaNts. It’s really cool to be back and to see many of the people I know in the skin field and learn about all the excellent derm research going on in the UK.

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Lee looking chuffed at his bold colour choices

They grow up so fast…. PhD thesis submission edition!

Today the pride levels are extra high. Valentina Iorio submitted her PhD thesis!!!

It’s in


Valentina was the first person to join my lab. I interviewed her whilst still in Chicago and was super impressed with not only her academic ability but also her bubbly personality. I have never looked back. 

It’s been an amazing three and a bit years; loads of impressive data, some incredibly cool live cell imaging videos of LaNts and laminin and even during the tough times, when things weren’t working and when reviewer two was needlesslessy negative, Vale faced it all with a smile. 

The end result is an excellent very readable thesis. She will defend sometime in June but at this time on behalf of myself, Carl Sheridan and George Bou Gharios;

Well done Vale! We’re proud of you

They grow up so fast – MRes 2016-17 project 1

New year, new poster session with Hamill lab students in action. This time its the turn of two MRes students from this year’s clinical sciences cohort.

Tobi Oyewole’s project looked into changes in LaNt a31 distribution in corneal limbal explants, a model of corneal wound repair in relation to proteins associated with of limbal basal epithelium/wound repair. He generated some pretty nice histology images working closely with Dr Valentina Barrera20170113_130648 including a bunch of images that quite nicely showed that our old rabbit pAb LaNt and new mouse mAb recognise very similar distributions (quite a relief really). Tobi’s work was presented at Mercia Stem Cell conference recently and Vale is continuing on with it and hopefully it will contribute to a manuscript later this year.

Kareem Hassanin did a very different project; he investigated issues with sunscre20170113_131709en application behaviour. Compared with my usual Molecular/Cell Biology/Genetics/histology type projects this was a totally different project (lots of fun) that we decided to do after a few conversations with one of my clinical colleagues (Austin McCormick) an eyelid cancer specialist. It also brought in Harry Pratt and Yalin Zheng as image analysis specialists and Gabriella Czanner as a statistician which has meant this really simple study has generated some really robust data. Conference abstract has
been submitted and the manuscript being prepared for submission very soon. 20161102_151712

The recruitment poster he used for to assemble the cohort could equally well have doubled as a wanted poster for myself (and was modified such in some of the communal areas….) and it was stated today that the people institute were pleased to no longer have my face staring at them every morning!

I also now have a big collection of comedy photos from most of the students and postdocs in the institute and have cool UV camera that we will be using in public engagement events this summer.

sunsc

 

They grow up so fast – Mapstone prize winner edition

Congratulations to PhD student Karen Lester on a prize winning talk at the Department of Eye and Vision Science and St Paul’s Eye Unit annual ophthalmology presentations.

Karen’s studies are trying reverse engineering glaucoma in order to identify new therapeutic targets to treat this blinding disease. She already has some interesting findings and its developing into really nice story. Her studies are under the primary direction of Prof Colin Willoughby with input from  Drs Carl Sheridan, Anshoo Choudray and myself.

Interested in her work? You can see it presented at Asia ARVO in February and hopefully in print sometime soon!

They grow up so fast – 3rd year tutorial group edition

Busy couple of weeks with the semester ending and various groups of my students being tasked to create a poster. Yesterday was the turn of my 3rd Molecular Biology students who chose to look at miRNA and age-related disease.

They did a thoroughly good job, without really needing any input from me. I don’t know who “won” in the day but I certainly thought that my team were up there with the best; unlike some of the others which were broad and superficial they went deep enough that everyone who spoke with them could learn something.20161214_143340

They grow up so fast; Mercia stem cell alliance conference edition.


Dr Valentina Barrera and MRes student Tobi Oyewole were in action today, presenting the work from the last few months at the Mercia Stem Cell Alliance conference. Unfortunately couldn’t make it so Vale got the opportunity to act as the proud parent to the first time presenter. 

They grow up so fast – 1st year tutorial group edition

Slightly different version of the usual update… Today the first year life scientist students presented a poster to their peers on a topic of their choice. This is my tutorial group, all studying on the Biovet course, along with their poster on antibiotic use/resistance in livestock farming.

20161207_134539Definitely all their own work as I know very little on this topic! (but now know that Cyprus uses ridiculous amounts of antibiotics – weirdly for an island nation). In case anyone is wondering it is (and was supposed to be) A1, they are not giants/really close up.

If you see any of them, ask them if chickens are the future.