The work goes on…

…by Phoebe / from the United Kingdom / PhD Tissue Repair 2013-2017

May has brought about the start of some good weather and the promise of a sunny summer is on the horizon! This bodes well for me as my hands no longer freeze on my bike ride into the lab and I am starting to get a nice Scottish tan!

I have been busy in the lab this month.

My dihydrotestosterone study came to an end with some interesting results complimenting previous findings on how DHT delays endometrial wound healing: this is a link to the paper on which I am second author if you are interested in more information 😀

I have also been doing several immunofluorescent stains with the aim to start some cell counting and quantification of the ratio of pericytes to endothelial cells in endometrial tissue, and RT-PCR gene expression analysis on repairing endometrial tissues looking for inflammatory signals and chemoattractants to compliment my immune cell studies. My RNASeq project is still underway, the laboratory team have processed my samples and now the data is with the Bioinformaticians. We had a really helpful Skype meeting with them to discuss the experimental design and analysis strategy so hopefully some results will come out of this before the end of June- more next time!

RNA analysis

In other PhD related news I submitted an application to the MRC for funds to support the importation of two transgenic mouse lines that are imperative to my studies. They are Inducible Cre lines which work through the Cre-LoxP system. I will try to explain this in simple terms: the Cre-recombinase enzyme is only expressed in a specific group of cells which is determined by the gene you choose, this cre-recombinase is floating around in the cytomplasm in an inactive state until you administer tamoxifen which activates the enzyme and sends it to the nucleus. Here the Cre-recombinase cleaves at LoxP sites and for my work these sites surround a STOP signal. When this signal is cleaved downstream expression of a reporter gene is activated and Red Fluorescent Protein (RFP) will be expressed. The beauty of this system is that the cells tagged with RFP will stay RFP positive for the rest of their lives even if they change cell phenotype etc. In this way I can target a specific group of cells (pericytes), tag them with RFP at a specific time ie before or during endometrial repair, and then trace what happens to them in the process. This is called lineage-tracing.

Inducible Cre

And the good news is my application was SUCCESSFUL so this is all going ahead!

I was also involved in this years’ ‘Pint of Science- Sex in our City’ event where I gave a talk alongside Professor Richard Sharpe to members of the public in a pub who were interested in finding out about the research that us scientists do in the lab and why we do it. It was a really great event, our session sold out and we had a lot of interest from the public. I thoroughly enjoyed approaching my work from a lay point of view and trying to get the important messages across whilst also adding some humour, and I did a good job it seems as I was recommended for the Modlothian Science Festival in Autumn by the PoS organisers- a job well done!

We had the first Annual Tissue Repair Away Day to attend which was held in Newbattle Abbey in Dalkeith. For this, all the Tissue Repair students were required to give an 8 minute presentation with only 5 slides: 1 title, 3 data and 1 acknowledgements, to update the programme organisers on our projects and future directions. Everyone did a really great job ad it was super to find out what everyone is researching, our programme is so diverse and yet we were all able to offer valuable insights into eachothers work. I received really great feedback so am feeling on track and ready for the final year of my PhD.

TR Away Day

Finally I attended the IAD Edinburgh GradSchool 2017, a three day course aimed at third year PhD students who are struggling to figure out what comes after the PhD. It was an interesting course made up of short talks and team working activities which were aimed to enhance personal skills. I had a good time and met some really nice people with whom I hope to stay in contact, best of all it was fully catered and the food was really good!

Gradschool 3

I had a reasonably quiet time outside of the lab this month with only 2 events to report. My mother came down to visit me for the weekend and we went out on Saturday night with my boyfriend’s mum and sister to a meal at Mother Indias Cafe (absolutely delicious and I highly recommend a visit) followed by the Mathew Bourne Production of the Red Shoes ballet at the festival theatre. It was the first time that the mothers have met (6.5 years into the relationship- haha) but the evening was really lovely and the ballet was beautiful so I only had good things to report back to Andy- phew!


And the second event was going to see the new movie BAYWATCH in the cinema with my younger sister… I’m not going to lie to you I was just extremely excited to see the wonderful DWAYNE THE ROCK JOHNSON in little red swimming shorts SAVING THE DAY 😀 It was a funny over the top type of film but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Anyway until next time!



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