Helena is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the lab, working to define fibroblast the role of fibroblast sub-types in human skin wound healing.  She conducted her PhD thesis in the lab, funded by a Department Scholarship.  This work led to a patent application, and the lab was subsequently awarded an Imperial Confidence in Concept grant, and a grant from The Rosetrees Trust, enabling Helena to continue on her thesis work as a postdoctoral researcher. 

There are multiple fibroblast populations found in adult skin dermis, three of which we are particularly interested in; papillary fibroblasts, reticular fibroblasts and dermal papilla fibroblasts.  In 2013 it was shown that these arise from a common cellular progenitor during development, yet acquire distinct identities in adult skin [1].  Using cell culture, immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy, RT-PCR and next generation sequencing approaches, Helena is defining the morphological, molecular and behavioural differences between these three fibroblast subtypes.  She has found that specific sub-types will promote wound closure significantly faster than other sub-types, and is now investigating the implications of this for human skin wound healing.
 

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References

1.         Driskell, R.R., et al., Distinct fibroblast lineages determine dermal architecture in skin development and repair. Nature, 2013. 504(7479): p. 277-281.