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Our body is made up of millions of tiny units known as cells. How these cells develop (and how we develop!) and what can go wrong will be explored on this night looking at stem cells, cell communication and genetics.
When genes go wrong: learning from rare disease
Dr Tom Laver (Research Fellow)
Hyperinsulinism is a rare genetic disease where babies produce too much insulin, giving them dangerously low blood sugar. This can lead to brain damage if untreated. We know the genetic cause in 40% of babies with hyperinsulinism – this enables them to get the right treatment. In this talk I will discuss how learning about the genes that have gone wrong teaches us how healthy bodies work and will lead to improved treatment for all patients with hyperinsulinism.
Building a Brain: the importance of cell-cell communication
Dr Lucy Brunt (Postdoctoral Research Associate)
As an embryo develops, a small collection of cells becomes an entire body made up of complex structures like the heart, lungs and brain. To develop correctly, it is essential for cells to communicate with each other. Messenger signals are sent to nearby cells to pass on information about what a cell must do next, so cells can divide, move and mature to become structures like the brain. In this talk I will introduce a method of cell communication and investigate how embryonic cells make decisions such as whether to become part of the forebrain, midbrain or hindbrain during brain development.
What goes around turns around: The story of a mitotic spindle
Dr Karolina Jaworek (Research Associate)
Our body is made up of about 200 different kinds of specialized cells such as muscle cells, nerve cells, fat cells and skin cells. All cells in the body originate from stem cells (SC) – a special type of cells which can self-renew to make more SC or differentiate into a specialised cell type (a neuron for example). Defects in SC production or differentiation can trigger cancer formation. Hence, I use the common fruit fly to understand how cells acquire their SC properties.