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!

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

September 2014

It’s been a full-on, productive summer here. We’ve written and submitted not one, but two important papers from the lab! Annisa’s first-author story came back from The Journal of Neuroscience with promising reviews, so we’re revising that for re-submission very soon. Mark and Adna’s joint first-author story has just been submitted to Neuron, and we’re all keeping everything crossed for a similar reception there too… Add Matt’s Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship application to the mix and it’s been a big few months for GrubbLab writing!

Away from the word processor, Adna went to Transylvania and built a 2-photon microscope, then came back and has been going crazy for AIS live-imaging. Annisa presented her recent work at FENS in Milan, and has just disappeared to hunt for post-docs and quality beer in Berlin. And Elisa, as well as getting our slice rig up and functional, won herself an iPad for being an outstanding young behavioural neuroscientist, and got selected by King’s as a post-doc representative on a ‘Life Beyond the PhD’ workshop in the Queen’s backyard (Windsor).

We were all in one place long enough, though, to hold the annual charred food fest that is the (in)famous GrubbLab BBQ, and if you don’t believe us, here’s the evidence!


Annual Grubb Lab BBQ

April 2013

Annisa, Adna and Mark at BNA 2013, Barbican, London.

Annisa, Adna and Mark at BNA 2013, Barbican, London.

Mark’s paper is now out in J Neurosci and thanks to Wellcome’s Open Access policy it’s available for all to read here and here – enjoy!

Braving the hottest, most cramped and most inaccessible poster board layout known to science, Adna, Annisa and Mark all presented at the recent BNA Festival of Neuroscience just up the road at the Barbican.  Some good feedback & discussion, and some interesting sessions at the conference too, so we’re hoping the BNA sticks to London in the future.

More team member changes, as usual – Tom finished his rotation project with us, and we now have an MSc student for the summer, Shivali Kohli, who’s looking at optogenetic activation of calcineurin-dependent transcription factors.  And we’re hoping that Elisa Galliano will join us for a post-doc soon.  Matt went over to her current lab in Rotterdam to give a talk in March, and to work on possible projects and funding for her to study olfactory bulb plasticity here.  The applications are underway, so fingers crossed!

Lastly, in non-science lab news, Matt got married on April 13th!  A fantastic day despite the British weather, and life as an honest man is agreeing with him very well so far.

February 2013

Apologies for the long time since the previous post, but we have been busy!  The best and most important development since then is news of our first laboratory publication: Mark’s first author paper on calcineurin signalling and AIS plasticity features no less than six current and past Grubb Lab members, and is currently in press at the Journal of Neuroscience.  Congratulations everyone!

We also just found out that the lab was successful in bidding for a Research Grant from the Royal Society.  This will add UV-based calcium imaging to the already impressive array of things our confocal can do for us, so we’re itching to start playing with the new equipment as soon as possible.

Not too much travelling at the moment while we gear up for bigger things in 2013, but we had a very local zebrafish imaging meeting in December where Adna got to present her initial data, and Matt went to two different Wellcome fundee meetings in the space of two weeks recently where it was great to interact with scientists across all sorts of biological disciplines.

Personnel-wise, we have a new MRes roton Tom Ryan in the lab, who’s getting involved with olfactory bulb development and plasticity in vivo and producing some lovely 3D cell images.

Away from the bench, we had a Watkinswine-fuelled celebratory dinner to mark our 36-month anniversary as a lab (why not?), a Spiced-up Christmas party season, and we even scored free tickets to go and look down on the department from the top of the Shard!

October 2010

Our confocal is up and running, and producing some quality images.  Have a look at our new gallery page where some of the best are up for public viewing.

We also had a little paper out this month, describing an optogenetic tool Matt made during his post-doc in the Burrone lab.  ‘Channelrhodopsin-2 localised to the axon initial segment’ describes a targeting strategy that successfully got ChR2 to the AIS, but unfortunately never allowed us to control neuronal activity in the way we’d hoped.  Still, we’ve described the construct in the Open Access journal PLoS ONE, and made it freely available from Addgene, so with a bit of luck someone might just find a use for it…

June 2010

cover_natureMatt just published the fruits of his post-doc work with Juan Burrone as a Nature paper.  Using dissociated cultures of hippocampal neurons, they showed that long-term increases in electrical activity can result in the relocation of an entire neuronal subcompartment – the axon initial segment, or AIS – up to 17 µm away from the cell body.  What’s more, this relocation is associated with alterations in neuronal excitability, making it a mechanism by which cells fine-tune themselves in response to ongoing changes in their activity.

The paper appeared alongside another Nature letter from Hiroshi Kuba and colleagues at Kyoto University, who also found evidence for considerable plasticity at the AIS, this time in vivo.  In chick auditory system neurons, extended sensory deprivation was associated with an increase in AIS length, and an accompanying increase in neuronal excitability.  Like Matt & Juan’s paper, this shows neurons altering their AIS to adapt to long-term changes in their electrical input.  What will be really interesting in future will be to understand why these alterations are sometimes solely in AIS position, and sometimes only in AIS length…

Both papers are discussed and put into a wider context by a nice News & Views article by Grundemann and Hausser.  You can also listen to Matt and Juan discussing their paper in the Nature NeuroPod podcast, and read an interesting and pretty accessible account of the work on the Alzforum website.

There’s also a review on AIS development and plasticity written by Matt & Juan published online in Current Opinion in Neurobiology this month.  Just a shame we didn’t know about the Kuba et al. paper while we were writing it!