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Anne C. Wolfes


Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Research Summary

The majority of neurological diseases are incurable, causing both immense personal suffering and financial burdens for society. Although autonomous brain repair is largely inefficient, stem cells in the adult brain are generally capable of giving rise to new brain tissue. Such stem cells can now be used to reconstruct tissue by using a 3D bioprinting technique recently developed in the Bayley group at the Chemistry Research Laboratory in Oxford. This new 3D bioprinting approach allows placing small numbers of particular cell types in specific positions and relation to each other with great cell viability, control, and resolution. Since human brain stem cells can be made by reprogramming skin cells in the dish, I employ the expertise of both the Szele group and Bayley group to 3D bioprint mouse and human stem cell tissue to reconstruct parts of the brain. This work is funded by a University of Oxford John Fell Fund grant.

My overall goal is to use this sophisticated ex vivo system to facilitate studying brain diseases, and to create small pieces of (healthy) specific brain areas with the potential to replace lost brain tissue, e.g. to rescue traumatic brain injury. Here, 3D bioprinting is key to repairing brain injury by transplantation: Neurones integrate better into mouse and zebrafish brains when arranged within 3D scaffolds/hydrogels rather than simply injecting isolated neurones (Carlson et al., 2016 Nat. Comm.; Hsieh et al., 2015 Biomaterials). With the advent of 3D bioprinting technology, better ex vivo, patient-specific tissue preparations for treating the injured/diseased brain are imminent.

 

Biography

I studied Neuroscience at UCL (B.Sc.) and the University of Göttingen (M.Sc.), Germany. In 2015, I obtained my PhD for studying vesicle-associated proteins and intercellular communication in different brain cells (neurones and glia) in Camin Dean’s group at the European Neuroscience Institute in Göttingen. I also developed a more “in vivo-like” culture system for astrocytes – stellate cells that make up almost as much of the brain as neurones. I joined the Szele group in February 2016, and have since been working on reconstructing parts of the brain as a collaborative project with the Bayley group at the Chemistry Research Laboratory, and initially working as a consultant for OxSyBio Ltd.