Nick is a PhD student who joined the lab in October 2016, and he is working on a project funded by the British Skin Foundation.  His research is focused on understanding an early step in hair follicle development known as condensate formation. The presence of a condensate is required to drive follicle development, however, we know little about the mechanisms which lead to condensate formation.  It is thought that an extrinsic epithelial signal promotes formation of condensates, but we do not know the nature of this signal.  In addition, it is not known whether specific cells have certain intrinsic properties that enable them to respond to this signal, or whether physical restriction alters the properties of the cells once they are in the condensate.  Nick is developing human hair follicle cell culture models, and using a range of next generation sequencing technologies and advanced bioinformatics to address these unknowns, which will give us insights into hair follicle condensate formation.  Long term, Nick hopes to recreate the mechanical signals and chemical cues which promote condensation within a lab setting, to create de novo follicles which can be used for the treatment of alopecia.