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.

November 2014

Our main news this month is that Annisa’s paper has been accepted for publication in The Journal of Neuroscience!  Entitled ‘A distinct sub-type of dopaminergic interneuron displays inverted structural plasticity at the axon initial segment’, it not only describes different, functionally distinct classes of dopaminergic cells in the olfactory bulb, but also characterises a novel form of plasticity in one of these classes.  It was a lot of work from Annisa and Elisa, as well as a significant contribution from our project student Rob Chesters, and they can be rightly proud of what they’ve produced.  The manuscript will be Open Access as soon as it’s out, and we’ll post the appropriate link here next time so you can read it for yourselves.

Adna and Matt thinking very hard about the AIS

Adna and Matt thinking very hard about the AIS

Elisa presenting her poster at SfN 2014

Elisa presenting her poster at SfN 2014

Annisa's AIS is this big

Annisa’s AIS is this big

Annisa found out about the paper when she was still in Washington DC, where the lab attended this year’s Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting.  Adna, Annisa and Elisa all presented posters and all were very well received, despite us book-ending the meeting with Saturday and Wednesday afternoon timeslots (we’ll get luckier next time, because we’re overdue on that now…).

Overall the meeting was great, with a nice buzz around the meeting halls, some impressive plenaries, and a lot of really useful contacts made. Plus everyone apart from Matt made the most of being in the US afterwards: Elisa to go and visit her collaborators at Harvard, Adna to scope out potential post-docs in New York, and Annisa went to see the Space Shuttle Discovery.

While we were in DC our newest lab member Darren held the fort admirably, and even generated some quality data!  Darren’s on a joint PhD studentship between our department and the SGDP at the Institute of Psychiatry, and in his rotation with us has already demonstrated a knack for patching that means we hope we can persuade him to stick around…

Finally, we’re continuing to spread our influence as widely as possible.  Matt recently interviewed to become an inaugural member of the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence, and spent a fantastic day advising the Theatre-Rites production company on its plans for building a human brain to stick in a puppet. And Elisa was interviewed and accepted as a Brilliant Club mentor, which means she’ll be teaching neuroscience to widen access to university-level education for outstanding pupils from non-selective state schools.

Tired poster presenters in the Wednesday afternoon "graveyard slot"

Tired poster presenters in the Wednesday afternoon “graveyard slot”

This is Gao, new honorary member of the Grubb Lab.

This is Gao, new honorary member of the Grubb Lab.

Post-poster reward of chili cheese fries and half smokes at Ben's Chili Bowl

Post-poster reward of chili cheese fries and half smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl

June 2014

The sad news this month is that Grubb Lab inaugural member Mark has left us, and the country, to go and cure diseases in California. He’ll be sorely missed, but his leaving party was great fun and we’ll make sure we all stay in touch – not least because we’ve got some exciting papers to write!

Better news is that Elisa has officially started her Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowship. We also found out she was awarded a highly competitive Human Frontier Science Program Fellowship too, but she had to decline that one because unfortunately they don’t let you hold two of these things at once… We made a start to her international networking by visiting the Lledo Lab in Paris in February to chat all things olfactory bulb, and came away with some great ideas for experiments. Talking of which, both Annisa and Elisa have been pushing the boat out collecting the final (hopefully!) data for our first olfactory bulb paper, so it’s been productive recently!

In the meantime, Adna’s been battling valiantly with live AIS imaging, and has continued her jet-setting lifestyle, presenting a poster at the Brain Conference on Controlling Neurons, Circuits and Behaviour in Copenhagen in April, and winning a place on the hugely prestigious Transylvanian Experimental Neuroscience Summer School.

And finally, Matt’s become a dad! Still struggling with extreme sleep deprivation and a world that’s suddenly been turned on its head, but absolutely loving it.

November 2011



The main event this month was the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting in Washington DC.  Matt co-chaired a minisymposium on ‘Short- and long-term plasticity at the axon initial segment’ which brought together six young(ish!) researchers to present their recent AIS work, and which was a huge amount of fun – lots of fresh data, some great talks, some lively questions, and a brilliant opportunity to spend some time talking science with others in the field.  Thanks to everyone who contributed and to everyone who came along, especially those who spared the time to chat to us afterwards.  The minisymposium also spawned a little cross-continental state-of-the-art review in the Journal of Neuroscience, which you should be able to read here.

Not forgetting the rest of the lab, Annisa and Mark were in DC, too.  When we weren’t eating half-smokes or getting shot at, we were busy presenting two well-received posters which you can see here (Annisa, Mark).  Thanks again to all those who took the time to come and talk about olfactory bulb and hippocampal AIS plasticity – we left the meeting with some extremely useful contacts and a lot of good feedback.

And while we’re in conference season, we just heard that Sabrina – our summer student from UC Irvine – presented her work at the ABRCMS meeting in St. Louis and came away with a poster prize.  Jolly well done Sabrina!

July 2011

Our latest student team member joined us this month: Sabrina’s visiting on a 2-month project from UC Irvine, working on AIS plasticity in different classes of hippocampal cells.  She’s also been busy finding neurons wherever she looks.  In fact, there’s been a spate of unlikely-looking biology either discovered or created by the lab recently, and it’s all on show here.

Matt didn’t show any of these images, but he did present a poster at the excellent IBRO meeting in Florence this month (PDF here), where some new contacts and interesting presentations made for 4 days full of quality science.  He was also invited to give a seminar at the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, which was fantastic for building links with other UK AIS researchers.  We’re hoping for some fruitful collaborations out of those interactions, so watch this space.

April 2011

Plenty going on this month!  First, Matt was invited to talk at the 2nd annual Manchester Neuroscience Symposium, which was a great day full of wide-ranging high-quality neuroscience and a chance to meet some really interesting people.  Thanks again to the organising committee for the kind invitation.

Then it was the biennial British Neuroscience Association meeting in Harrogate.  Lots of good stuff, including some fantastic plenary speakers, some fascinating specialised symposia, and of course Mark’s poster!  He got plenty of interest and feedback, and you can take a look at it yourself here.  E-mail him if you’ve got any questions (and yes, we do know about the spelling mistake in the title…)

Tom finished up his undergraduate project with us this month, producing a polished thesis and a brief talk on how, unfortunately, we failed to find anything interesting about AIS synapses in dissociated hippocampal cultures.  Still, well worth knowing, and he’s not been too disheartened – Tom’ll be back in the summer to attack something completely different (and reinstate his Matlab obsession).

Finally, April saw the arrival of not one but two new MSc project students in the lab!  Adbul’s doing a joint project split between us and Martin Meyer’s group and will be looking to follow AISs in live zebrafish, while Saj is doing some fundamental AIS biology to see if we can really pin down the location of action potential initiation.  Great to have them both on board!

February 2011

We’ve had a good few productive months since the last post, with everyone getting their heads down, battling the frost & snow, and coming into the lab to produce some really exciting preliminary data on all projects.  We can’t reveal any details just yet, but watch this space!

We’ve also got a new lab member: in between training to become a ‘proper’ doctor, Tom Watkins has joined us for his intercalated BSc lab project, looking at synaptic inputs to the AIS in hippocampal cultures.  He’s already re-worked our standard Matlab scripts and acquired a big stack of confocal pictures, so there should be some of his images up in the Gallery soon…

Finally, we’ve just heard that Matt’s going to be co-chairing a minisymposium at this year’s Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting in Washington DC (November 12-16).  It’s titled ‘Short- and long-term plasticity at the axon initial segment’, and will involve talks from six young(ish) researchers interested in various aspects of AIS plasticity.  More details to come, but save the dates!