Morphogenesis and growth of the eye in health and disease

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Cell and Developmental Biology

Abstract

Although our eyes have a very different appearance to our brain, they originate as outpocketings of brain tissue during early embryonic development. The neuroepithelial tissue destined to form the eyes is initially a coherent group of cells within the neural plate, the precursor of the central nervous system. As the neural plate folds up to form the brain and spinal cord, the eyefield cells bulge out laterally to the left and right to form the two eyes. Each eye undergoes dramatic shape changes as it forms. These include a tissue fusion that closes a fissure present on one side of the eye (the choroid fissure), and leads to the formation of the intact globe of the eye. The complex orchestration of cell movements required to form the eyes is an example of tissue morphogenesis - the process by which embryonic cells form into tissues and organs.

The genes that regulate the specification and morphogenesis of the eye and the cell and tissue behaviours that accompany eye formation are poorly understood. One of the reasons that this lack of knowledge needs to be addressed is that congenital malformations of the eye, such as anophthalmia, microphthalmia and coloboma, are relatively common in humans and can cause severe visual impairment or more severe craniofacial phenotypes. For instance the failure of the choroid fissure to close results in eye colobomas that encompass a group of common eye defects affecting people of all ages, but especially young children. Colobomas are usually congenital conditions diagnosed by detection of a notch, gap, hole or fissure in any of the structures of the eye, including the cornea, retina and optic nerve. These pathologies are a common cause of visual problems, can cause retinal detachment and cataracts and often lead to blindness in affected patients.

In this project, we will use zebrafish embryos to identify genes important for eye formation and to characterise the cell behaviours that accompany various stages of this process. Zebrafish embryos are small, transparent and develop externally facilitating the study of normal development and disease in the intact animal. Together with their amenability to genetic analysis, these features make fish embryos an excellent model system to study eye formation in normal and pathological conditions. Indeed, highly sophisticated imaging techniques allow us to visualise all of the cells in the developing eye in the living zebrafish embryo. Coupled with this, we have generated a novel collection of families of fish that give rise to progeny exhibiting a variety of defects including absence of the eyes, abnormal morphogenesis and coloboma.

We will identify the genetic mutations in the families of fish with eye defects and this will give us insights into the genes and genetic pathways that regulate normal eye formation. The human versions of these genes are candidates for causing congenital eye abnormalities when mutated and so, with collaborators, we will screen patients with eye defects for mutations in the genes. As eye defects often arise as a consequence of defective function of more than one gene, one of our aims will be to look at the genetic interactions between pairs of genes implicated in eye formation. In parallel to the gene identification, we will characterise the cell and tissue movements that accompany eye formation to gain an understanding of the mechanistic bases of this complex process. As our understanding increases, we will then be able to use the acquired knowledge to resolve why the congenital eye defects arise when certain genes are not functioning correctly.

Overall, our research will help to bridge the gap between the highest quality basic research in model systems and human disease phenotypes. These analyses will enable us to establish new models for human eye diseases and will allow us to gain further insight into normal eye development and into the causes of hereditary ocular malformations.

Technical Summary

This programme of research will elucidate the genetic pathways, cellular behaviours and developmental mechanisms underlying the specification and morphogenesis of the vertebrate eye. Our studies will help reveal the mechanistic bases of ocular phenotypes such as anophthalmia and coloboma. The knowledge we acquire from genetic analyses of mutant zebrafish will be used to screen for comparable genetic defects in patients with ocular malformations.

One goal will be to identify the genetic lesions in a novel collection of fish lines carrying mutations that alone, or in combination lead to defective eye specification or morphogenesis. We will use next generation sequencing approaches to identify the genetic lesions underlying the phenotypes. Once the mutated genes are identified, we will use a transcript counting approach which involves 3' capture of mRNAs in mutants to identify the changes in gene expression that precede the appearance of morphological phenotypes and/or sensitise embryos to eye defects.

We will resolve the cellular behaviours and developmental mechanisms that underlie optic vesicle evagination and choroid fissure closure in normal conditions and in embryos carrying genetic lesions. This will be achieved through the use of transgenes that label eye cells or subcellular structures in vivo, coupled with high-resolution multi-photon imaging of wildtype and mutant eyes.

Finally, we will use results from the studies above to help to identify genetic lesions that contribute to human ocular phenotypes. We will use an amplicon based approach to sequence exons from candidate genes in patients but may switch to exome sequencing should costs reduce significantly. In parallel, we will expand our collection of lines of fish that carry mutations in genes that render carriers susceptible to ocular phenotypes. These genetically sensitised lines will be used to assess the consequence of mutations in genes that are candidates for causing human disease.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?

As well as scientists in the field, in the short to medium term, clinical researchers will benefit by using our data to screen patient cohorts for genetic mutations. Establishing novel fish models of human eye pathologies will potentially benefit pharmaceutical industry researchers who need suitable disease models for drug screening. Our work will be of relevance to charities such as Fight for Sight and EURORDIS working with families affected by congenital eye disorders. Our research has an impact on school students, university students from different disciplines and the general public. We are established as leaders in the field and thus contribute to maintain the UK at the forefront of this area of research. Through our collaborations with EU scientists, we contribute to the development of the European Research Area (ERA).

How will they benefit from this research?

Our work is predominantly fundamental research aimed at understanding developmental processes in normal and genetically abnormal conditions. Our research is cross-cutting, combining genetic and transgenic approaches with high resolution imaging and cell biology techniques. Clinical researchers will use our data to identify genetic mutations in cohorts of patients. Thus, and in accordance with MRC's strategic objective on Genetics and Disease, specific genes will be linked with disease allowing for better diagnosis and targeting of therapies to individuals. In support of MRC's strategic objective on translation of research, our novel genetic and transgenic models of human eye pathologies will be of benefit to the pharmaceutical industry in order to design and perform targeted drug screens, potentially bringing the health impacts of fundamental research to society more quickly. Our proposed programme of research will contribute knowledge of genes that are candidates for human congenital eye diseases, a better understanding of the processes that these genes control, and novel animal models of human eye phenotypes. Charities such as Fight for Sight, with which we have established channels of communication, will benefit from our research in order to identify areas of research priorities. Others, such as EURORDIS, will gain an understanding of the genetic mechanisms underlying the eye disorders that affect the patients and their families within their remit.

We regularly host A-level students for placements in the lab, school visits and give presentations to students from diverse disciplines. In our experience, school children and students in non-scientific fields are fascinated when introduced to scientific research. Such exposure can direct career decisions and can inspire creativity in the students' own areas of research [1]. We write summaries of our findings for the public [2], and we generate many beautiful images through our work [3], which are used often for publicity and in museums [4]. The public benefits from a better understanding of science and scientific terms and a more intangible appreciation of the beauty of the developing embryo [5].

Our laboratory attracts national and international researchers to undertake further training with us. We train our researchers to high standards and equip them with transferrable skills always according to the RCUK Policy on Code of Conduct. In accordance with MRC's strategic objective on Capacity we strengthen and sustain a skilled workforce and develop world-class research leaders. With this project we will maintain the UK at the forefront of research in the field, and by sharing knowledge and resources with our network of colleagues in Europe we contribute to the development of the ERA.

[1] www.ucl.ac.uk/zebrafish-group/outreach/
[2] www.ucl.ac.uk/zebrafish-group/outreach/summaries/index.php
[3] www.ucl.ac.uk/zebrafish-group/researchImages.php
[4] www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/zoology/exhibitions/#previous
[5] www.pimedia.org.uk/zebrafish-glowing-results

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Development cover and pull-up banner 
Description We have submitted a pseudocoloured composite image of an eye expressing a transgene in the nasal half of the retina. The imagine has been selected as cover for Development (Volume 142 (22), November 2015) as well as a pull-up bunner to be used by the journal at exhibition stands at meetings. 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact More interested in the paper we published 
URL http://dev.biologists.org/content/142/22.cover-expansion
 
Description Influenced training of practitioners or researchers - PhD training
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Influenced training of practitioners or researchers - PhD training (2015 - current)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Influenced training of practitioners or researchers - PhD training 2013 - 2015
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Influenced training of practitioners or researchers - training clinicians in PhD programmes
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Participation on Commission on Human Medicines Expert Committee
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact I sat on the Human Medicines Expert Committee to assess the role of zebrafish in drug testing and toxicology.
 
Description PhD training
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Science, Research and Innovation Directorate (within BEIS)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact I am sitting on the Science, Research and Innovation Directorate (within BEIS) committee to assess Research Bureaucracy.
 
Description Training of Renal Specialist Clinician - PhD programme 2014-18
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL http://zebrafishucl.org/
 
Description Undergraduate students training
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity
Amount £70,042 (GBP)
Funding ID 176377 
Organisation Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (GOSHCC) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 09/2019
 
Description PhD
Amount £97,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 1746/1747 
Organisation Fight for Sight 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 09/2019
 
Description Resolving the basis of phenotypically variable hereditary abnormalities of eye formation
Amount £1,571,105 (GBP)
Funding ID MR/T020164/1 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2020 
End 03/2025
 
Title CRISPR-Cas9 transgenesis 
Description Our work involves generation and characterisation of mutants as well as transgenic lines expressing GFP and other reporters in specific cell types. These lines (14 of them listed in Miesfeld JB et al., 2015) are made available to the community and are widely used. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - non-mammalian in vivo 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact By generating and characterising new transgenic lines, we are providing the research community with new tools for the study of developmental processes 
 
Title CloudMap - Mapping of difficult to locate mutations by Whole-Genome Sequencing 
Description CloudMap is a Galaxy-based pipeline that greatly simplifies the analysis of mutant genome sequences from raw FASTQ reads all the way to mapping plots and short lists of candidate mutations. We demonstrate the utility of CloudMap for WGS analysis of C. elegans and Arabidopsis genomes and describe how other organisms (e.g. Zebrafish, Drosophila) can easily be accommodated. Automated workflows and extensive video user guides are available to detail the individual analysis steps performed. This platform has been previously developed by Dr Richard Poole at Columbia University, he has since established the technology at UCL. Dr Poole collaborates with our group oto sequence some of our more difficult mutants. Gregory Minevich, Danny S. Park, Daniel Blankenberg, Richard J. Poole and Oliver Hobert1, "CloudMap: A Cloud-based Pipeline for Analysis of Mutant Genome Sequences." Genetics. 2012 Oct 11 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact We have been able to identify a mutation and determine that the gene affected is the Stem-loop Binding Protein (Slbp). Abrogation of Stem Loop Binding Protein (Slbp) function leads to a failure of cells to transition from proliferation to differentiation, retinal coloboma and midline axon guidance deficits. Katherine J. Turner , Jacqueline Hoyle , Leonardo E. Valdivia, Kara L. Cerveny, Wendy Hart, Maryam Mangoli, Robert Geisler, Michele Rees, Corinne Houart, Richard J. Poole, Stephen W. Wilson , Gaia Gestri doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/464123 
URL https://galaxyproject.org/news/cloud-map/
 
Title Zebrafish models for analysis of cell movement defects 
Description Our work characterises zebrafish lines carrying mutations that affect developmental processes and as such, we create models for human congenital conditions. These mutants are freely available to the research community and so there are many outside researchers who are using the same lines as us. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - non-mammalian in vivo 
Year Produced 2010 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Our studies in zebrafish lines that are models for human congenital diseases provides valuable information to better understand the role of the affected genes in the induction and/or progression of those pathologies in humans. 
 
Title Zebrafish models for human congenital conditions 
Description Our work characterises zebrafish lines carrying mutations that affect developmental processes and as such, we create models for human congenital conditions. With the CRISPR/Cas-Mediated Genome Engineering we have generated several new mutants. These mutants are freely available to the research community and so there are many outside researchers who are using the same lines as us. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - non-mammalian in vivo 
Year Produced 2006 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Our studies in zebrafish lines that are models for human congenital diseases provides valuable information to better understand the role of the affected genes in the induction and/or progression of those pathologies in humans. 
 
Description Alexander Nechiporuk 
Organisation Oregon Health and Science University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The goal of this collaboration is to clone and characterise the new coloboma mutants generated from the ENU screen.
Collaborator Contribution Alexander Nechiporuk's lab has performed an ENU based mutagenesis screen and found new coloboma and microphtalmia mutant fish.
Impact This is the fist paper in which we used one of the mutants generated by Alexander Nechiporuk's lab.Yap and Taz regulate retinal pigment epithelial cell fate. (Miesfeld et al., Development 2015)
Start Year 2015
 
Description Brian Link 
Organisation Medical College of Wisconsin
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have studied the retinal phenotype of fish lacking Lmx1b function. We are looking at the role of POM in eye morphogenesis, from a cellular point of view while Link is generating useful transgenic lines. We are both interested in the role of YAP1 gene in RPE genesis and coloboma. While we focused more on the role of YAP1 in coloboma formation Link is complementing our analysis looking at the role of YAP1 in RPE specification.
Collaborator Contribution Our collaborators performed experiments and provided lines of zebrafish that helped us to resolve the role of Lmx genes and POM cells in eye development.
Impact So far, one publication has resulted from this collaboration (19500562). While: Yap and Taz regulate retinal pigment epithelial cell fate; Joel B. Miesfeld, Gaia Gestri, Brian S. Clark*, Michael A. Flinn, Richard J. Poole, Jason R. Bader, Joseph C. Besharse, Stephen W. Wilson, and Brian A. Link. Development. 2015 Sep 1;142(17):3021-32. doi: 10.1242/dev.119008.
Start Year 2007
 
Description Cavodeassi Florencia 
Organisation Autonomous University of Madrid
Department Centre for Molecular Biology Severo Ochoa
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are looking at the role of shh and fgf in the naso temporal patterning of the eye affecting the signals with either drugs or mutants combined with transgenic lines. Moroever we are studying the role of non-canonical Wnt pathway during optic cup evagination using in vivo time-lapse. In addition we are both interested in RPE genesis. While we focused more on the role of RPE in choroid fissure fusion and coloboma Florencia's is complementing our analysis looking at the RPE specification. As part of this collaboration, Florencia's group generate an RPE transgenic line that we are using prior to publication.
Collaborator Contribution Florencia's group is looking at the role of shh and fgf in the naso temporal patterning manipulating the signals specifically in the eye field using rx3;GAL4 reporter line. Her group provided us with a new RPE transgenic line, very useful for looking at choroid fissure fusion in vivo.
Impact So far, one publication has resulted from this collaboration. Opposing Shh and Fgf signals initiate nasotemporal patterning of the zebrafish retina.Hernández-Bejarano M1, Gestri G2, Spawls L2, Nieto-López F1, Picker A3, Tada M2, Brand M3, Bovolenta P4, Wilson SW5, Cavodeassi F6.Development. 2015 Nov 15;142(22):3933-42. doi: 10.1242/dev.125120. Epub 2015 Oct 1.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Dr. David R. FitzPatrick 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC)
Department MRC Human Genetics Unit
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Validation in fish of the function of genes that are mutated in in human patients with microphtalmia and coloboma.
Collaborator Contribution WGS of patients with coloboma and microphtalmia.
Impact In order to validate if the gene mutated in human is causative of the coloboma/microphtalmia phenotype and to understand the role of the gene under analysis we are starting to perform loss of function experiments in zebrafish. No published outputs as yet.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Jane Snowden ICH - Human eye defects 
Organisation University College London
Department Institute of Child Health
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are testing putative mutations in candidate human disease genes in the zebrafish models .
Collaborator Contribution Having a bioinformatician that helps us to access the 100k data, looking for snips in patients with microphtalmia and coloboma.
Impact non yet
Start Year 2016
 
Description Kara Cerveny: cell proliferation in the visual system 
Organisation Reed College
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have generated mutants with altered proliferation in the developing visual system
Collaborator Contribution Our partners are helping us to conduct experiments on the novel mutants that we have generated
Impact So far, two publications have resulted from this collaboration. 1) Antagonism between Gdf6a and retinoic acid pathways controls timing of retinal neurogenesis and growth of the eye in zebrafish. Valdivia LE, Lamb DB, Horner W, Wierzbicki C, Tafessu A, Williams AM, Gestri G, Krasnow AM, Vleeshouwer-Neumann TS, Givens M, Young RM, Lawrence LM, Stickney HL, Hawkins TA, Schwarz QP, Cavodeassi F, Wilson SW, Cerveny KL. Development. 2016 Apr 1;143(7):1087-98. 2) Abrogation of Stem Loop Binding Protein (Slbp) function leads to a failure of cells to transition from proliferation to differentiation, retinal coloboma and midline axon guidance deficits.Turner KJ, Hoyle J, Valdivia LE, Cerveny KL, Hart W, Mangoli M, Geisler R, Rees M, Houart C, Poole RJ, Wilson SW, Gestri G. PLoS One. 2019 Jan 29;14(1):e0211073. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211073. eCollection 2019.
Start Year 2008
 
Description Mariya Moosajee 
Organisation University College London
Department Institute of Ophthalmology UCL
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Validation in fish of the function of genes that are mutated in in human patients with microphtalmia and coloboma.
Collaborator Contribution Having a bioinformatician that helps us to access the 100k data, looking for snips in patients with microphtalmia and coloboma.
Impact non yet
Start Year 2018
 
Description Nicky Ragge and Nicolas Chassaing (Oxford Brooks & Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse) 
Organisation Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse
Country France 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution We performed the experiments to study the function of fbxw11 in zebrafish. We assessd the function using Mopholino knockdowns, and generated CRISPR mutants for phenotypic study of reduced/loss of function..
Collaborator Contribution Nicky Ragge's and Nicholas Chassaing's groups were responsible for the human part of the project, providing us with phenotypic patient data and using our data to compare to patient information.
Impact - (Article in The American Journal of Human Genetics: Holt, RJ et al., 'De Novo Missense Variants in FBXW11 Cause Diverse Developmental Phenotypes Including Brain, Eye, and Digit Anomalies. Aug 2019.)
Start Year 2015
 
Description Nicky Ragge and Nicolas Chassaing (Oxford Brooks & Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse) 
Organisation Oxford Brookes University
Department School of Life Sciences Oxford Brookes
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We performed the experiments to study the function of fbxw11 in zebrafish. We assessd the function using Mopholino knockdowns, and generated CRISPR mutants for phenotypic study of reduced/loss of function..
Collaborator Contribution Nicky Ragge's and Nicholas Chassaing's groups were responsible for the human part of the project, providing us with phenotypic patient data and using our data to compare to patient information.
Impact - (Article in The American Journal of Human Genetics: Holt, RJ et al., 'De Novo Missense Variants in FBXW11 Cause Diverse Developmental Phenotypes Including Brain, Eye, and Digit Anomalies. Aug 2019.)
Start Year 2015
 
Description Nicky Ragge: Retinal coloboma and TFAP2 function 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have been able to develop fish models of human conditions affecting eye development.
Collaborator Contribution Dr Nicky Ragge works with human patients carrying mutations in genes that we are functionally characterising in fish. We have been able to develop fish models of the human conditions and this has led to one publication so far (Gestri et al. 2009).
Impact So far, one publication has resulted from our collaboration (19685247 Gestri et al. 2009) .
Start Year 2007
 
Description Philippa Mills: Using zebrafish to model human diseases: Exploring the genetics of rare childhood diseases 
Organisation University College London
Department Institute of Child Health
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Karin Tuschl (KT, clinician) and Leo Valdivia (LV, senior post-doc) from our group have identified the molecular defect underlying the observed pathology of a rare, but devastating childhood disease, childhood-onset parkinsonism-dystonia, in humans. This disease causes movement abnormalities that can make it difficult to walk, talk, and carry out other activities of daily life and we showed that the disease affects Manganese homeostasis and transport. With this knowledge they were able to generate the mutation in zebrafish (via CRIPR/Cas9 genome editing) to establish the disease model in zebrafish. Fish carrying this mutation also show eye defects and we are currently trying to understand the molecular and morphogenetic defects that cause this phenotype. The work as funded by a clinical fellowship to KT held at the Institute of Child Health (ICH) and current MRC funding for LV's salary as well as consumables and equipment (microscope). KT and LV did all of the zebrafish work.
Collaborator Contribution Philippa Mills our collaborator at the Institute of Child Health (ICH), led studies on human patients and cell lines with KT performing most of the work. KT and LV did all of the zebrafish work.
Impact We have published our research so far in Nature Communications (2016; see URL above): "Mutations in SLC39A14 disrupt manganese homeostasis and cause childhood-onset parkinsonism-dystonia", 2016. We have now received a research grant from the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, as additional support, to continue the work in continued collaboration with Philippa Mills at the ICH.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Fight for Sight and Pint of Science - Engagement with Potential Funders March 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact The Charity Fight for Sight is one of our research funders for our work investigating eye diseases. Fight for Sight invited a large number of potential donors of the charity to visit our research facilities at UCL and to listen to my presentation on our current progress and future plans on understanding eye development in health and disease. The goal of the dat was to present the cutting edge technologies used in our research group and available at an institution such as UCL.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://zebrafishucl.org/
 
Description Hosting A-Level school class from London June 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Biology A-Level students spend half a day with us in the research lab. They were shown live zebrafish (for example, transgenic 'glow-in-the-dark' embryos) as well simple experiments, the fish facility etc.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited speaker and Posters Presentation at Genes, Epigenetics and Evolution in Eye Development and Disease 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Very stimulating discussion

We exchanged important ideas and useful tools and fish with other colleagues.
One of our posters won the best poster prise.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Outreach - 5 day Work experience placement of A-Level students 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Our annual 5-day long work experience placement programme allows students to work in small groups of 2 students and experience what it is like to work in a laboratory environment. We also pair each student with a mentor to help them answer and explore questions around a career in Science etc. The students present their results in an informal 'symposium' at the end of the week.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Outreach - A Visit to Local Primary Schools (portugese speakers at local primary schools) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Native Portuguese speakers Ana and Renato organised an exciting Portuguese science session at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Primary School in London as part of the Native Scientist program. During the session the students leant about behaviour and brain function, explored genetic concepts such as inherited traits and examined embryos and investigated how long different species take to develop. Last but not least, the students had a chance to extract DNA from strawberries!

To learn more about Native Scientist visit: www.nativescientist.com
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
URL http://www.nativescientist.com
 
Description Outreach - A-level placement - Individual (5 day work experience) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This work experience is very popular and heavily oversubscribed - we usually get about 8 application per place. The feed-back is always very positive, often students write back to us after they have successfully secured a university place, often at Oxbridge or other Russell Group Universities. Students cite their work experience as having been very stimulating and helpful to list on their UCAS application and at a subsequent interview.

Every year we host between several Biology A-Level students for a 5-day work experience once or twice a year, in recent years generally 8 students per work experience. The placement week is designed to give students an insight into the daily life in the lab by carrying out an independent research project under supervision.

Participating students work in groups of two, for example in 2016 they worked on three projects that cover the research interests of our lab: eye development, CNS asymmetry, and our neuroanatomy atlas. For their project students used standard Molecular Biology methods (e.g. TUNEL staining to detect apoptotic cells, Wholemount In Situ Hybridisation and fluorescent immuno-histochemistry to distinguish normal and altered RNA or protein distribution in mutant and normal sibling fish (mutation affecting the eye); PCR to genotype fish embryos). Students also examined transgenic fish and fish from heterozygous mutant line crosses FISH (fluorescent In Situ Hybridisation) using confocal microscopy to analyse altered neuroantomy in mutant larval fish. We all have fun; the students are extremely enthusiastic and a pleasure to interact with and supervise, and the students also seem to enjoy the challenges and work extremely well together. Students present their results and place their work in the greater context of research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017
URL http://www.ucl.ac.uk/zebrafish-group/outreach/
 
Description Outreach - Hosting Individual A level students for work experience - 1 week or longer 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact During their 2 weeks work experience the students shadowed some of the researcher and got a feeling of how we work in a laboratory from an intellectual and practical point of view.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016,2017
URL http://zebrafishucl.org/#outreach
 
Description Outreach - Visits from Local Schools 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We have open days for the labs involving school kids from around London. These happen 2 or 3 times a year and are massively oversubscribed, about 10-20 students attend per day visit, about 30-50 students per year.

We have many requests each year from schools and try to accommodate them as best as we can.

The last visit was on 22 November 2016: 12 students plus 1 teacher from Haringey Sixth Form Centre spent an afternoon in our lab.

We have had very positive feedback from students, some indicating that the visits have encouraged them to take science at University
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016
URL http://www.ucl.ac.uk/zebrafish-group/outreach/
 
Description Outreach - hosting Individual A level for work experience on an ad hoc basis 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We regularly receive requests from A-level students for individual work experience placements outside of the schedules programme. We usually host about 3-4 of such students per year. The length of this engagement varies from a few days to several weeks.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
URL http://www.ucl.ac.uk/zebrafish-group/outreach/
 
Description Outreach - individual placement for lab experience (gap-year students/undergrads) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact We regularly receive requests from post-secondary school students (gap year or undergrads) for individual work experience placements outside of the scheduled programme. We host about 1-2 of such students per year on an ad hoc basis. The length of this engagement lasts generally several weeks and students work closely with one or several of the lab's researchers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
 
Description Presentation to Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution: HOW THE BRAIN TAKES SHAPE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I gave a talk to an audience of about 60 people at the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution in February 2017 entitled 'How our brains take shape'. We discussed how we can use the zebrafish as a model system to study the nervous system in health and disease.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.hlsi.net/event/how-our-brains-take-shape/
 
Description Research Conferences 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We have presented our data to colleagues through many seminars and presentations at Research Conferences.

Our discussions and interaction with other researchers help us to move forward in our research, and to identify future collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012
 
Description School Visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact bla bla bla
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017
 
Description School visit by A-Level Students from London School - Visit to research facilities & presentation by Steve Wilson June 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Visit of 20 A-Level Biology Students from a local school. The students visited our research facilities and listened to a presentation of our current research programme and future research aims. Students had some hands-on experience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://zebrafishucl.org/
 
Description Scientists in schools symposium (OIBC) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Symposium which provided students opportunity to ask many interesting questions.

Teachers asked us to provide materials for lessons, which was provided, other impacts not known.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL http://www.oibc.org.uk/scientists-in-schools/
 
Description The Native Scientist 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Since 2014 we visit schools in under- privileged areas of London. For this particular activity, researchers of my team, who were native Portugese speakers, who visited schools with a large cohort of students with Portugese background who often find it difficult to engage in english due to limited language skills. It is our aim to make Science accessible to everyone interested and to show school children that Science is fun.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016,2017
URL http://zebrafishucl.org/outreach-1/2016/11/20/native-scientist-ana-and-renato-june-2016
 
Description The Native Scientist - engagement with disadvantaged pupils in local, inner city schools - school visit/demonstrations 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Since 2014 we visit schools in under- privileged areas of London. For this particular activity, researchers of my team, who were native Portugese speakers, who visited schools with a large cohort of students with Portugese background who often find it difficult to engage in english due to limited language skills. It is our aim to make Science accessible to everyone interested and to show school children that Science is fun.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019
URL http://zebrafishucl.org/
 
Description The Native Scientist - engagement with disadvantaged pupils in local, inner city schools - school visit/demonstrations 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Researchers from my group went to visit a school in underprivileged area of London. We showed them live zebrafish and simple experiments as well as talking about the options for a career in science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Website outreach 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Our website (www.ucl.ac.uk/zebrafish-group/ www.ucl.ac.uk/zebrafish-group/outreach/) contains descriptions of our research projects and publications written at a level accessible to a well-educated public audience.

Several researchers interested in establishing collaborations with us contacted us after seeing our web page. It is also a very good advertising medium to get potential students and postdoctoral researchers interested in our lab. We also host visits and work-shadowing by school kids at least twice a year. We run the openlab programme that invites any UCL students for lab visits. We have presented to design students and have hosted art students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011,2012
 
Description Work experience A-Level students 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A-Level students spend 1 week in the lab. They have brief lectures on developmental biology and research techniques and are given simple 'wet-lab' tasks, e.g. in situ hybridisations, immuno-histochemistry, PCR, confocal microscopy. They are also learning to distinguish different stages of zebrafish development and sort living embryos accordingly. Furthermore, they learn to see differences between mutant and siblings from one zebrafish egg clutch. The mutants they sort affected normal eye development.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017
URL http://zebrafishucl.org/#outreach
 
Description outreach - A-Level students 5 day work experience 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Ten A-level students participated in our annual work experience programme. They engaged in lectures, pursued a small research project under guidance and supervision of research staff in my group and presented their work at the end of their programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018
URL http://zebrafishucl.org/
 
Description the Node 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact We summarised the most exiting discoveries that were presented at the Zebrafish Meeting-and we got 5 comments posted on the web
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://thenode.biologists.com/the-8th-european-zebrafish-meeting/events/