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Research groups

Josephine Hellberg

Postgraduate Student

I've always had a great interest in science -- both as a process and as a body of knowledge. Originally from Sweden, I came to the UK in 2009 to study Biological Science at UCL. For my final-year project, I worked with professor David Gems at the UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing, looking at the development of age-related pathologies in the nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans. Over the duration of my undergraduate degree, I worked on a variety of other projects -- notably on Schizosaccharomyces pombe (fission yeast) in the Bahler laboratory at UCL, and on Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress) in the Dickinson laboratory here in Oxford. 

Graduating from UCL with an MSci in Genetics, I went on to do an MPhil in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Professor George Salmond. Previous work in the Salmond laboratory had found that a virulent strain of the bacterium Serratia plymuthica showed fast-killing activity of C. elegansThe purpose of my MPhil project was to figure out how the bacteria accomplished such a feat. Using a variety of molecular biology techniques, I found that the bacteria were producing the phytotoxic antibiotic, zeamine. Notably, my work showed that zeamine has exceptionally broad-spectrum antibiotic activity, which would make it unsuitable as a therapeutic antibiotic. In addition, I also performed some work looking at the regulation of gene expression of the zeamine gene operon. The results of my work were published in 2015 in Frontiers in Genetics (Hellberg et al.). 

I left Cambridge to start my DPhil studies here in Oxford, with Professor Wilson. We're working with the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to gain insights into the biology of secretory cells, using the Drosophila male accessory gland as our model system. For my DPhil work I'm focussing on the function of a well-known signalling pathway and its associated molecules in the regulation of intracellular trafficking and post-mitotic growth. 

Recent publications

More publications

Drosophila Male Reproductive System

Drosophila Male Reproductive System
Image of a dissected male reproductive system, in a saline droplet.

Secondary Cells

Secondary Cells
A confocal micrograph showing secondary cells in the Drosophila male accessory gland.