the community site for and by developmental biologists

A deep breath to kick off the BSCB-BSDB Spring Meeting 2011

Posted by on May 20th, 2011

BSCB-BSDB Spring meeting April 27 – 30, 2011 Canterbury University Since I very much enjoyed last year’s joint conference of the British Societies for Developmental Biology (BSDB) and Cell Biology (BSCB) in Warwick, I was optimistic about attending the 2011 meeting in Canterbury. The organisers unknowingly scheduled it for the days around the royal wedding[…]

A career as editor

Posted by on May 19th, 2011

I was a PhD student with Peter Walter, studying protein translocation across the endoplasmic reticulum. I did very well as a student, publishing six research papers during that time. After that, I was a postdoc with Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and then with Yuh-Nung Jan, studying oogenesis and pattern formation in Drosophila. Throughout my training, people handed[…]

Help me select some Node highlights

Posted by on May 17th, 2011

The Node’s birthday is coming up on June 22nd and we’re currently preparing some things for that behind the scenes. One thing that I’m working on are a few slideshows to present this summer at departments and conferences. In these presentations, I want to include some highlights from the Node’s first year, and I could[…]

Imaging stem cells in the Drosophila ovary

Posted by on May 12th, 2011

To accompany our paper “Long-term live imaging provides new insight into stem cell regulation and germline-soma coordination in the Drosophila ovary” I have been asked by staff at the Node to discuss the path we took when developing a successful imaging protocol. Germline follicle formation in the Drosophila ovary is a very dynamic process –[…]

When F-actin dynamics and Hippo signalling activity meet to regulate tissue growth.

Posted by on May 11th, 2011

Genetic screens in flies brought me by chance to have a look at one of the basic apparatus of the cell: the actin cytoskeleton. At that time, I remembered my cell biology courses at University and since the actin cytoskeleton was not one of the hot spot, I though it was just a machinery required[…]

Interview with Beddington Medal winner Carlos Carmona-Fontaine

Posted by on May 11th, 2011

Each year, the British Society for Developmental Biology awards the Beddington Medal for the best PhD thesis in developmental biology. At the 2011 BSDB meeting, this award went to Carlos Carmona-Fontaine, who completed his PhD in Roberto Mayor’s lab at UCL. Now a postdoc at Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York, Carlos returned to the UK[…]

In Development this week (Vol. 138, Issue 11)

Posted by on May 10th, 2011

Here are the highlights from the current issue of Development: Dronc regulates Numb and neuroblast formation The ability of stem cells to maintain a balance between self-renewal and differentiation is crucial for development and tissue homeostasis. In Drosophila neuroblasts, the tumour suppressor Numb restricts proliferation and self-renewal in differentiating daughter cells but how its activity[…]

Zinc Finger Nucleases targeting genes in a frog near you!

Posted by on May 9th, 2011

Loss-of-function studies in Xenopus have been, until recently, limited to transient knockdowns by injection of morpholino antisense oligonucleotides.  In part because of X. laevis’ complex allotetraploid genome, the system lacked techniques for targeted gene disruption.  In recent years the use of the closely related Xenopus tropicalis, a true diploid with one of the smallest tetrapod[…]

The story behind the screen – flashbacks from the first RNAi screen in a whole vertebrate

Posted by on May 9th, 2011

The story of our recently released Development paper ‘FatJ acts via the Hippo mediator Yap1 to restrict the size of neural progenitor cell pools’ ( involves hundreds of dozens of fresh free-range eggs and not trivial amounts of time spent peering down a microscope. I have written this with Nick van Hateren, who is the joint first author of this paper along with me.

6th International Chick Conference

Posted by on May 6th, 2011

Can I just bring to eveyone’s attention that the 6th International Chick Conference is now to be held at The Roslin Insititute, UK. Sept 17-20, 2011. This forum often attracts a strong developmental biology contingent and we anticipate the 2011 conference will include many relevant themes (e.g Morphogenesis; Organogenesis; Patterning, Cell Fates and Organizers; Genetic[…]