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Cambridge Biosciences DTP PhD Programme


Department of Physiology, Development & Neuroscience

Research theme: Understanding the rules of life


I completed my undergraduate degree in Biosciences at Durham University before starting my PhD in the Department of Physiology, Development & Neuroscience. I am interested in all things Molecular Biology related and particularly enjoy manipulating cell signalling pathways to understand the effects they have on cell fate. In my spare time I enjoy running, visiting museums and reading books.


Project Theme:

Programming the Notch response: optogenetic strategies to manipulate pathway activity

Project Summary:

The Notch pathway is one of a small handful of cell signalling pathways that coordinate development, regulating the types and numbers of cells formed in many developmental contexts. Its functions include maintenance of stem/progenitor cells, regulation of cell fates, organising patterns of growth, and many others. In addition, aberrant Notch activity is implicated in diseases including cancers. A major focus of the work in the lab is on understanding how the Notch pathway operates and what enables its different functional outcomes.

Recently we have developed methods that allow us to follow specific target genes in living cells making it possible to investigate nuclear events including how the transcription factor dynamics and the chromatin state influences the selection of gene targets. A remaining challenge is how to activate Notch with high precision. To achieve this we will adopt optogenetic methods to release an active form of the Notch receptor, by fusing it to light sensitive domains. Ultimately, these optogenetic tools, combined with methods to track the behaviour of other components in the pathway, will be used to generate accurate models of how the active Notch operates inside a cell to target the correct genes and how this can be disrupted by disease causing modifications.


Teaching and Supervisions

Research supervision: 

Professor Sarah Bray

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Contact Details