Project: Supportive stars!
Life in the Lab
In the brain, together with neurons, there is another very important type of cells which are called astrocytes. Astrocytes get their name from the fact that they are the same shape as a star! They guarantee that the nerve cells in our brains and spinal cords can work properly: they provide energy, they regulate messages between neurons and they make sure that the environment in which neurons live contains the right amount of substances required for their functioning.
My role in the lab is to understand what happens to astrocytes in ALS. It is possible that as a consequence of the disease, astrocytes become sick themselves, and are not able to support the neurons as they normally would. Or they may gain some new properties that make them toxic to neurons. I am comparing astrocytes derived from patients to those from healthy controls. I believe that understanding what goes wrong with astrocytes in ALS patients would help us restore their supportive and protective function.
Life outside the Lab
When not culturing tons of stem cells and astrocytes I like to be outdoors and if possible near/under/on the water – if not any adventure will do! I am a keen scuba diver and sailor and I’ll take any available opportunity to make some bubbles or to go sailing on my own little boat. I also love live music, taking photos and travelling.