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A series of internal talks demonstrated an extensive breadth of research within the Development and Cell Biology Theme that tackles the questions fundamental to understanding evolution, growth, organ formation, the onset of disease and tissue regeneration. DPAG Researchers were also joined by two external speakers presenting their research into age-related angiocrine signals and stem cell strategies for lung development.

We dissect the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying a range of developmental and reproductive processes

On Tuesday 4 June 2019, DPAG researchers came together from a wide range of groups all guided by a fundamental desire to dissect the molecular and cellular mechanisms which underlie developmental and reproductive processes. Group leaders, Postdoctoral Researchers and Graduate Students gathered at St Anne's College for a day of talks to celebrate the diversity of the Development and Cell Biology theme's research.


The Development and Cell Biology theme day was a real success, with very positive feedback. The day itself is all about the Science, which, as in previous years, provided an excellent showcase: nicely capturing the breadth of study across the theme as well as natural synergies between our core groupings. I'm grateful to all for actively participating, either as speakers or part of an enthusiastic audience. - Professor Paul Riley, Chair of Development and Cell Biology

The event has been put on for many years and provides an opportunity for researchers across all kinds of disciplines, from cardiovascular to neuroscience to basic cell physiology, to meet and discuss their work while also hearing compelling talks from their colleagues. Researchers ultimately learn more about what on the surface may seem to be thematically separate areas of study that in reality share common elements and provide the opportunity to foster new collaborations.

Professor Paul RileyBHF Professor of Regenerative Medicine and Chair of the theme, kicked off the day by welcoming everyone to the event, outlining the breadth of research attendees could expect from the day, and introducing forthcoming plans for expanding and developing the theme.

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DPAG's research community then heard a talk by Prof Sarah De Val presenting her lab's work in collaboration with Prof Nicola Smart to work out a way to improve blood vessel growth to repair the heart after injury. This was followed by Prof Clive Wilson presenting his group's work on exploring the fundamental mechanisms behind how cells communicate with one another. Before a short break, the audience then heard from DPhil Student Anna Schneider on how pyramidal cells impact the distribution of interneurons in the cerebral cortex and striatum.

After the break, the audience reconvened to hear two Postdoctoral Research Scientists: Dr Filipa Simões on how cells called Macrophages are important players after heart injury, and Dr Matthew Stower on his lab's technique of imaging a type of structure called Epithelia responsible for forming different kinds of tissues and organs in the body.

The final talk before lunch saw the return of Prof Sarah De Val, who presented an overview of the Department's Athena SWAN initiatives and how these support both the research and working environment of DPAG Researchers.

Straight after lunch, Postdoctoral researchers and Graduate Students informally presented posters of their work and took questions from their colleagues. From myocardial infarction cell therapy to light sheet fluorescence microscopy, from a model for castration-resistant prostate cancer to the effects of iron deficiency on embryonic heart development, the posters reflected and complemented the diversity of the day's talks.

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The first afternoon session was presented by Oxford University speaker external to the theme, Professor Anjali Kusumbe from the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology. Prof Kusumbe's research group aims to shed light on the niche functions of blood vessels in both normal and tumour tissues. Her talk was followed by Prof Mathilda Mommersteeg who outlined her group's latest research into models that can regenerate the heart after injury.

After a short break, researchers heard from Prof Deborah Goberdhanwho outlined her group's work on characterising a new mechanism in cancer biology as well as their goal to find non-invasive ways to improve the early diagnosis of cancer. She was followed by the final speaker of the day, Professor Emma Rawlins from the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge. Prof Rawlins gave a detailed and enlightening talk outlining stem cell strategies for lung growth, maintenance and repair.

The day having concluded, many researchers reported on a positive experience throughout. DPhil Student Helen Potts commented: "It was really great to hear updates on some of the fascinating talks from last year and to catch up with scientists from across the Medical sciences Division." Head of Department Professor David Paterson highlighted the importance of the day, commenting: "Cell and developmental biology is a cross cutting theme in our department, and its importance in fundamental discovery science was on display today."

More details on the individual talks can be found here.