June 2017

Time flies, and plenty happens!  Here’s what we’ve all been up to this year so far…

Carlos, Megan and Matt making science more open in Lisbon

Carlos, Megan and Matt making science more open in Lisbon

Our paper linking AIS plasticity to myosin-II activity is out now in EJN, and was even picked up by the journal as a Featured Paper!  You can access the full text here, and get all the raw data here.  And while we’re being open, it’s worth mentioning that the construct we developed and described for live-labelling the AIS is now (finally) freely available at Addgene.  With Open Science being a fundamental principle for us these days, it was also great for Matt to spend two days this month contributing to an EC RISE workshop in Lisbon on “Researcher careers and the European Funding system: How to make Open Science a reality?”  Hopefully some of the recommendations we came up with there will encourage more people to be open with their research.


This month also saw the start of our EU-funded Horizon2020 ERC Consolidator Grant, which means new lab members getting to work on the project, and a new 2-photon microscope for in vivo experiments – exciting stuff, and more details next time…

Lots of meeting-related action for the Grubb lab so far in 2017.  Elisa, Darren and Chris all presented posters at the BNA Festival of

Darren and his BNA poster

Darren and his BNA poster

Chris and her BNA poster

Chris and her BNA poster

And Elisa and her BNA poster!  But where were the punters??

And Elisa and her BNA poster! But where were the punters??

Neuroscience in Birmingham, where the sessions were – to be honest – underwhelming, but the balti was excellent!  But that wasn’t the end of those posters, thankfully – Elisa went on to use hers to scoop the poster prize at the Young Embryologists meeting in London, while Chris & Darren both got far more useful and plentiful interactions with theirs at the KCL PhD symposia held at Guy’s Campus and Denmark Hill.  In the meantime, Marcela stopped by the Festival of Genomics, went to Norwich for a Single Cell Symposium, and continued to oscillate productively between London and Exeter.  And Matt’s been out and about too, getting together with fellow Scholars at the April FKNE meeting, talking at the Spring Hippocampal Conference in Sicily, and presenting to a diverse public audience at our local KCL Neuroscience Symposium.

Strictly scientific speed-dating at Chicheley!

FKNE Scholars’ strictly scientific speed-dating!

In terms of personnel, we’ve had the usual crazy turnover: project students-wise, Asha & Grace finished their BSc projects and have now come back for a few summer weeks to contribute to new directions.  Monika got some great preliminary data in her MRes rotation, before handing over the MRes baton to Rachel, who’s spent the last few months trying to get OB cells to inhibit themselves.  We’ve also taken on Krishna, who’s working on birthdating of OB dopaminergic cells for his extended MSc research project.  More permanently, we have a new post-doc in the lab!  Menghon has come to us after finishing his PhD with James Fawcett in Cambridge, and will be working on our BBSRC grant focusing on connectivity in OB dopaminergic cells.  And we also have a new Technician! Eleonora, with a fantastic background in neuronal plasticity, has recently become part of our ERC-funded team to get that project off to a flying start.

Finally, massive congratulations to Elisa!  Not content with scoring a poster prize, and another prestigious FENS SfN Travel Award, she’s trumped everything by securing a Temporary Lecturer position at the University of Cambridge – amazing!  Her new role, due to start in May 2018, should run for at least 10 years, and will give her the chance to establish her own independent research group in a fantastic new environment.  Well done Elisa!

February 2017


We heard the fantastic news late last year that Matt was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant!  This is an amazing opportunity for us to push forward our work, and will allow us to do a whole heap of experiments that just wouldn’t be possible with other types of funding.  We’ll use it to focus on adult-generated neurons in the olfactory bulb, and how their elevated potential for plasticity might contribute to information processing in sensory circuits.  In practical terms that means lots of slice physiology, as always, but we’ll also now have the ability to monitor and control neuronal activity in vivo too, and that’s incredibly exciting.  It’s a 5-year award starting later this year, so let’s hope the UK Government sticks to its promise to underwrite all European funding obtained while we’re still part of the EU… If you’d like to know more, you can find more detail on the award from the KCL IoPPN newsletter, and also in the ERC’s own press release.

We’ve also taken some of our own advice recently, and have published a preprint of our latest paper on BioArxiv.  This one is a nice short paper revealing a necessary role for the motor protein myosin II in activity-dependent structural plasticity at the AIS.  It’s currently under review at a ‘standard’ peer-reviewed journal, but you can see the submitted manuscript here, and we’ll update that as and when it’s finally published.  We’ve also deposited all of the primary data at Figshare, but those will only become publicly available once the final version of the paper has been accepted.  We’ll try and do this for all of our work from now on – here’s hoping we reap the benefits of Open Science!

Some great recent news from our alumni: Adna got herself an EU IntraEuropean Fellowship to start her post-doc with Claire Wyart at the Brain and Spine Institute in Paris.  And Annisa just landed a new post-doc working with Frank Heppner at the Charite in Berlin.

Finally, we welcome 3 new project students to the lab this term!  Monika’s doing her 2nd MRes rotation project with us, looking at plasticity in adult-born dopaminergic neurons.  And Asha and Grace have both started BSc projects, Asha on morphological plasticity in external tufted cells, and Grace on plastic epigenetic changes in the olfactory bulb.  Welcome guys!

November 2016


frontiers-logo-homeWe’re celebrating the publication of Adna’s paper in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience this month!  As part of a special collection of papers on ‘Neurobiology of the Axon in Health and Disease’, this paper outlines our quantitative evaluation of different methods for live-labelling the axon initial segment.  After ruling out several antibody-based and genetically-encoded approaches for various reasons of unsuitability, Adna finally found that one particular probe is extremely well suited for live studies of AIS plasticity.  The paper’s completely Open Access, so if you want to find out which probe it is, you can read the full text here!


FKNE on the beach…

After a nerve-wracking Brussels interview for an ERC Consolidator Grant last month, Matt is now experiencing an equally nerve-wracking wait for the outcome.  But this was made more bearable by attending the autumn meeting of the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence in Benidorm (no, really), which featured a heap of great science, along with the once-in-a-lifetime chance to sing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ in public with Richard Morris…

...and up the alley!

…and up the alley!

Other lab members have been travelling too, Marcela to Heidelberg for the ‘From Functional Genomics to Systems Biology’ meeting, and Darren to San Diego to attend this year’s SfN meeting.  And Elisa came back from Boston for a flying visit, too, which gave us the perfect excuse to revive our traditional ‘half-year’ curry – marvellous!


September 2016


Matt & Tim representing FKNE in Brussels!

As part of the FENS-Kavli Network’s commitment to bettering the future of early-career researchers, Matt joined Tim Vogels on a flying collaborative visit to the European Commission this month.  We’ve been collecting data all summer on the status of grant funding for early-career researchers across Europe (if you’re a young PI and still haven’t completed our survey, you can find it here), and we went to discuss our preliminary findings with a diverse team from Commissioner Carlos Moedas’s Research, Science & Innovation cabinet.  It was a great, super-interactive meeting where we found a lot of common ground, and we forged some exciting plans for the future.  Let’s hope this is a first step in influencing things for the better…

Back in the lab, we’ve welcomed Andres Crespo to our team!  Andres has joined us as a Research Technician, supporting all of our work but focusing especially on our IRP-funded project on olfactory nerve regeneration.  Our epigenetics team Darren & Marcela have both been making connections in the world of single-cell analysis – Darren at the Single Cell Genomics meeting at the Wellcome Genome Campus, and Marcela at the Brain Mosaic meeting in Leuven.  And congratulations to Barbara, who successfully completed her MSc project with us this month.

July 2016

Adna FENS poster 2

Adna drawing a crowd…

Recent months have seen Grubb lab representation all over the place.  Matt and Elisa attended the annual FENS Kavli Scholars meeting at Chicheley Hall in April, where Elisa got to both present her latest stuff and come up with a bonkers grant proposal.  At the recent FENS Forum in Copenhagen, Adna and Elisa were kept nice and busy at their excellent poster presentations. Matt chipped in too with a panel discussion on Open Science at the CHET committee ‘Code of Conduct and Ethics in Science’ event, as well as doing lots of FKNE-based business.  Everyone got caught in the rain.  And Matt just presented at the UKSN meeting in Cambridge, in an excellent olfactory neurophysiology session.

Elisa FENS poster

…and Elisa too!

MG FENS Ethics IMG-20160705-WA0005

Matt being Open

More FKNE-based interactions resulted in Matt co-authoring another Editorial article in EJN, this time on mobility for junior researchers – you can find that here.  You can also read about our exciting new epigenetics project on the Leverhulme Trust site and on the Centre webpage.

We’ve started expanding the lab, welcoming Marcela Lipovsek to the team as a senior post-doc working on that same Leverhulme-funded collaborative neuro-epigenetics project.  She’s ordered some new pipettes already, and clearly means business…  We have more appointments to come – look out for a new post-doc position to be advertised very soon!

Existing lab members have been super busy.  Special congratulations to Adna, who successfully passed her PhD viva exam, has had her thesis corrections approved, and is now Dr Dumitrescu!  She’s also currently teaching on the CAJAL Advanced Neuroscience Training Course in Neuronal Cell Biology: Cytoskeleton and Trafficking in Bordeaux.  Elisa has been bouncing between London & Boston, not only taking full part in the April FKNE meeting and presenting at FENS, but also securing a funded position on the prestigious Imaging Structure & Function in the Nervous System course at Cold Spring Harbor.  Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for her project, she’ll now be in Boston until Christmas.  Both Chris and Darren presented well-received posters at the Guy’s Campus Postgraduate Research Symposium, and competed in the KCL heats of the Three-minute thesis competition, with Chris getting all the way to the local final!  And Candida did exceptionally well in her BSc project – so well in fact that she’s currently working with us in a funded summer placement.

GrubbLab_WeAreInternationalNotice all those foreign names in this and other News pieces?  Needless to say the entire Grubb lab was devastated by the recent Brexit vote.  Just in case we needed any further proof that leaving the EU will make it more difficult for us to do our jobs, here’s our contribution to the #WeAreInternational movement – note that Matt’s the only British person in the team, and now wishes he could be from somewhere else.  We can’t say this any more strongly – we’re still keen to recruit the right people, wherever they’re from, and we’ll fight our hardest to make sure that doesn’t change.

February 2015

Jan2015 JNeurosci coverThe main news this month is the publication of our second paper from the lab:  Annisa’s work on AIS plasticity in olfactory bulb dopaminergic neurons came out recently in The Journal of Neuroscience!  It’s Open Access, so you can access the online version of the manuscript here or the PDF here.  We’re really proud of this paper – it’s the culmination of a lot of effort to establish these cells as a model for different forms of activity-dependent plasticity, and it’s the first demonstration that the AIS can be plastic in inhibitory interneurons.  In fact, we show that AIS plasticity in these cells goes in the opposite direction to the changes we and others have seen before in excitatory neurons.   This may have some interesting and important implications for information processing in olfactory bulb circuits, which is exactly what we plan to investigate next…

FENS-LOGO RGB 100x23mm Kavli logoMore good news: Matt found out late last year that he was selected as an inaugural member of the FENS-Kavli European Network of Excellence!  This is a new pan-European network of young neuroscientists with a really exciting remit – basically, we get to decide for ourselves how we can best promote and serve European neuroscience, plus we have some great opportunities for collaborations and interactions amongst ourselves.  More details on all of that once we’ve made some policy decisions at our first meeting in April, but in the meantime you can read more about the Network and check out all the ‘Scholars’ here, and you can see the KCL version of the story here too.

We also have a couple of new Masters project students for the new term.  Andrew’s made a cracking start to his MRes rotation by learning to patch hippocampal cells, and is now busily gathering data.  And Marine joins us from the University of ENS in Lyon for an MSc project looking at experience-dependent plasticity in olfactory bulb dopaminergic cells in vivo.

Finally, we received the excellent news that our collaboration with the children’s theatre group Theatre-Rites was successful in obtaining a Small Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust!  This means that we’ll be consulting further with the team as they continue their R&D sessions to develop a neuroscience-based performance called ‘Pinocchio – a Case Study’.  If that’s anywhere near as enjoyable as the time we’ve already spent with them it’ll be an absolute blast!