Lee Fundraising

Just 3 days before the 1st of the 2 total warriors Lee is doing to raise money for the British Skin Foundation. The BSF are a great charity who have supported him through my PhD. They fund research into cures for skin cancer, eczema, psoriasis, and a host of horrible skin disorders and diseases.

Please donate if you can, every £££ helps in the fight against cancer!

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If you are able to donate click here

Read about last year’s efforts here

I am currently on a BSF funded PhD studentship, where I am conducting research into skin cancer. This charity do great work in order to invest in the future of people suffering from skin diseases such as; eczema and psoriasis, and a range of cancers.

I will be running (jumping, climbing, crawling, crying, getting electrocuted and probably crying some more) when I undergo the Total Warrior events in June and August.

I have paid for these myself, so ALL proceeds will go directly to charity! Please give what you can, every £££ helps!

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.

 

 

 

The Sunscreen Challenge

On Saturday the University of Liverpool held one of its “Meet the Scientists” event at the World Museum. At these events, various groups from the uni run stands about their area of research and try to educate and inspire the next group of scientists. Ar18422943_10158721284455444_8351530329978430675_oound 1000 parents and children attend and this weekend had  stands about; the art of paint, how clean are your hands, pathogen vs immune system, cell cookies and disease detectives. In addition the Hamill lab team ran our “sunscreen challenge”

 

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Our stand involved taking pictures using a specialised  camera that is only sensitive to ultraviolet light and then challenging the kids and adults to apply sunscreen as effectively as possible. Where the sunscreen had been applied the UV light was absorbed and the images appear black, but anywhere where they had missed gave back lighter tones.

Here are some good examples, where the people have done well.

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and a few examples of people who “missed a bit”

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We could also tell when people has used make up or moisturiser that contained SPF, here is Karen and one of the helpers on another stand. Note the neck line on Karen to see the difference in UV absorption due to the SPF.

We were constantly busy throughout the day, taking a total of 300 photos (50 per hour), including a bunch  where we took before and after shots (after lunch the queue was too long so we could only do afters)

By lucky coincidence last week was also “sun awareness week” and we were able to piggy back on the end of that and distribute information sheets courtesy of the British Skin 18404174_10158721284445444_8199184143473074534_oFoundation (who also support the molecular biology research into skin cancer that goes on in our lab).

To learn more about skin cancer check out the BSF information pages here or the British Association of Dermatologists pages here they are both excellent resources.

The whole event was great fun. Not just for the kids but for the adults and our team too. There were quite a few fun applications, not quite what we had in mind but hilarious!

 

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Here are another set of photos of the stand in action

We’ll be doing this again soon, so look out for the next event at the world museum in early July if you fancy a go!

Of course, at the end of it all, the “sunscreen team” had to have a go with the UV camera too….

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left to right, Liam, Conro, Lee and Kevin – the sunscreen team

Happy Birthday Valentina!

Tomorrow is Valentina’s birthday so for the second time this week we had an impromptu lab celebration. Open flames are banned in our building so lots of imagination required, lucky Vale got all the candles out first time.

Liam harnessed his background in cake decoration / poor photoshopping to generate cake decorations. I’m not convinced that they should be posted here but somethings are so bad they are good, and some of those things are so good that they have to be shared. So here is the LaNt team and Lord of the Hamill lab.

All set for “meet the scientists”

On Sat 13th May, we will be at the World Museum in Liverpool with our stand on sun safety and sunscreen application as part of their and the University of Liverpool’s ongoing “meet the scientists” events. Previous events have attracted 600-1000 folks so today we had a trial run with all the equipment to make sure we are a smoothly oiled machine ready for the main event.

As you would expect, test subjects were required so here are some bonus pics of MRes students Conro Sugden and Liam Shaw testing out our new lighting system and camera set up.

Note that Conro is not half in shadow, he’s half covered in sun lotion.

If you are around in Liverpool next week, come say hi! The event is free and there are lots of great stands in addition to ours.

Interested in sun safety? The British Association of Dermatologists have lots of excellent information leaflets here

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…

 

The wall of LaNt research

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Just back from another conference and Lee has added his recent poster to our growing collection. A quick rearrange and we have the wall of LaNt research!

Yes, we have gone too far, taking over a bunch of the poster boards on our floor but it is so cool seeing the work from the various members of my group coming together into a really big story. I recommend working from left to right as you look at them to get a picture from the gene to the protein to the whole tissue.

It starts at the transcript level with Lee’s poster showing LaNt regulation of laminin expression. Also including images of changing protein expression in squamous cell carcinoma from Valentina Barrera and  Conro’s minigene analysis of critical residues involved in splicing regulation.

Next we move on to some of our cell biology work looking at LaNt a31 in the front of the eye where Vale B demonstrates differential distribution accacross the corneal epithelium and Lee and Valentina Iorio show knockdown and overexpression affecting cell migration/spreading

After that its into the molecular biology, with Vale I using fluorescently tagged LaNts and laminins to study their interplay in corneal epithelial cells in culture and also the effects  LaNt overexpression has on junctional complex assembly and matrix organisation.

In Poster 4 Tobi and Vale B’s work brings us back to whole tissues, this time using limbal explants as a 3D model of corneal wound repair and includes our data demonstrating changes in LaNt distribution as wounds heal.

Finally Umar and Vale B show some quite preliminary work of LaNt roles in angiogenesis and the effect of overexpression/knockdown on HUVEC tube formation.

I will now be sending all new students to study all these posters before starting work in the group. Seems like an easy way to get up to speed!

They grow up so fast – Durham cytoskeleton meeting

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Conro presenting his poster on intron retention; yes, he spelt his name wrong on the poster!  

Yesterday MRes students Liam and Conro attended “Scaling, the cytoskeleton and mechanobiology” at the University of Durham. Courtesy of help with printing from Prof Roy Quinlan, Conro was able to present his recent MRes project data about using a minigene construct to study splicing regulation in LAMA3.

I was on holiday so unable to attend so asked the guys to take  pictures. In response I not only received the obligatory “proud student presenting his work” image but also some token tourist shots of Durham and slides from the talks.

Looks like an interesting meeting and sad to have missed it!

Also, according to Conro, “hagfish are cool”

 

St Paul’s Eye Appeal fundraising dinner

Last week St Paul’s eye unit and the Department of Eye and Vision Science at the University of Liverpool hosted a dinner at Liverpool town hall to promote the St Paul’s Eye Appeal. This appeal supports a number of research projects that don’t fit into the common funding mechanisms. i.e. the appeals fills the gap between the research supported by the big research councils and the clinical services supported by the NHS.

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Liverpool Town Hall 

In practical terms it makes a massive difference to our department; allowing for strategic investment in people, projects and equipment to push forward new research ideas and get them into the clinic.

It was a great night with a fantastic locally sourced food,

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The £1 million dining table, no drink rings please!

wine and gin and really good company. Lots of valuable connections were made and hopefully this will translate into investments into eye research in Liverpool.

The dinner was hosted by Lady Grantchester and amongst the other notable dignitaries  was Stephanie Slater MBE, the paralympic athlete who recently had a corneal transplant at St Paul’s. Not my usual company (!) but a really interesting experience for all involved.

Here are a few photos from the night and select ones involving some of the EVS team below.

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