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!

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

January 2014


Matt in the Dead Sea

Long time no news, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy…

Mark’s now a doctor (insert applause here), having successfully defended his thesis just before Christmas.  He also managed to present his latest project at SfN in San Diego in November, and to find himself an exciting new post-doc position in the Mucke Lab at the Gladstone in San Francisco.  But we’re not letting him leave just yet – he’s in the middle of a mini post-doc here that’ll hopefully polish off a story that we’ll look to publish as soon as we can.

In fact, Grubb Lab alumni have a pretty good track record at finding themselves positions once they’ve left us.  As well as Mark’s new post-doc job, Shivali – our MSc project student from the summer – has now started a PhD in Nottingham, while Tom W, who did a series of different projects with us a few years ago, has got himself on the highly competitive MD-PhD programme at UCL.  We’re also waiting for news from Rob, another undergraduate project student from a couple of years ago, who’s currently in the process of applying for PhDs and may even end up back in this department.

Since the summer we’ve had to say goodbye to Dutch Dennis, who got us up to scratch with our image analysis and who broke all records for Holland Masters grades (apparently).  We’ve been trying to get him back for a PhD but he’s stubbornly staying in Amsterdam for the moment.  And we had another highly successful MRes project student from the 4-year Centre PhD course – Sam learnt how to patch cultured dentate granule cells and got himself and us some publishable data within 3 months, but he’s now off sampling what the rest of our department has to offer.

The good news is that we have a new permanent member of the lab!  Elisa Galliano has just joined us as a post-doc, having got her hard-won PhD from the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam under the supervision of Chris de Zeeuw.  We seemed to spend most of 2013 begging for money to bring Elisa over, but after applying for 7 different funding schemes she managed to go and get herself the very best one possible: a Sir Henry Wellcome Post-doctoral Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust!  Elisa will now be based here at King’s for the next 4 years, but will also be jet-setting to Paris, Harvard and (ahem) Oxford to do some really exciting experiments with her international band of superstar collaborators.  She’s certainly been busy so far, getting acquainted with the beauty of the olfactory bulb and putting together our new baby: the lab’s new slice patch rig.

In the meantime, Adna successfully upgraded to full PhD student status, went off to Crete for an ISN workshop where she learnt a great deal about German gardening, and presented a poster at the Cambridge Neuroscience Symposium celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the Hodgkin-Huxley Nobel Prize.  Annisa’s been working hard on a project that should see the light of day very soon now, as well as being responsible for the grand new-look website, and Matt went off to a great little interactive Axons in the Desert meeting in Israel and managed to fit in a hugely enjoyable visit to the Mizrahi lab in Jerusalem at the same time.

Last but by no means least, the Grubb Lab officially rocked the MRC Centre Christmas Party this year, teaching everyone a thing or two about fashion, style, moves and scrimping by making a physical and metaphorical visit to the Thrift Shop.

Happy New Year from all of us, and here’s to a great 2014!


June 2013

Mark emerging from the darkness

Mark emerging from the darkness

We’ve been out and about recently, taking our science to the Great British public.  At the Science Museum, Matt volunteered on our Centre’s stall in the recent Life Game exhibition, explaining how messing around with neuronal activity might help us tackle serious diseases.  Then there was the MRC Centre Science Spectacular evening, held in conjunction with the ‘Photo51: From DNA to the Brain’ exhibition at Somerset House.  Here, Matt & Mark ran a surprisingly successful live demo of optogenetic activation plus calcium imaging, and you can see a lovely clear picture of Mark in front of our giant results screen here!

Mark and Adna also presented at the recent Tri-Divisional PhD Day, with Adna being highly commended on her poster and Mark scooping joint first prize for his excellent 3rd-year talk.  Well done guys!

And finally we have another new recruit to the lab: Dennis Kruijssen, who’s joined us for a few months on an internship from his MSc course at the Vrije University in Amsterdam.  He’s already got properly stuck in to his experiments, and has introduced us to some truly disgusting licorice, so it’s ups and downs 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!

August 2012

Olympic fever is finally dying down in London and things are getting back to something resembling normality in the lab after a busy old summer.

Rosie finished off her MRes project with us and she’s gone on to a PhD in the Keck lab.  There she’ll continue her interest in all things plastic, and hopefully add some extra data to the interesting results she already produced with us.  And as part of the reciprocal GrubbLab-KeckLab exchange programme we’ve now got Adna back after her spiny summer sabattical.  She’s starting a PhD in collaboration with Martin Meyer’s lab, looking at AISs in zebrafish – a really exciting new direction for us.

We’ve also had two week-long work experience students learning about neuroscience in London; what’s more, both Eleanor and Grace managed to produce useful data in their short time here.  Not the most accurate reflection of normal scientific progress, but at least we haven’t put them off for good…

Finally, the traditional Grubb Lab summer party went non-traditionally barbeque-free – we ate loads of chilli and delicious guacamole on Matt’s temporary riverside balcony instead.  Oh, and believe it or not we’re still waiting on Mark’s sausages.