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