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developmental and stem cell biologists

First Sy(Stem)s Developmental Biology Lab Picture

Posted by , on 31 May 2024

I can’t believe it has been six months since I started this adventure as a group leader at the Center for Developmental Biology. Since then, few (but also lots of) things have happened.

One of the main things I would highlight is that the lab has grown. We are now four members!

  • Andrea Theodorou, who studied her BSc and MSc at Newcastle University, focusing on thyroid cancer and 3D in vitro models of Hepatocellular Carcinoma. She joins the lab as a Research Technician and is already immersing herself in Seville’s culture!
  • Irene Carrero Castro, who is completing her MSc in Omic Data Analysis and Systems Biology at the University of Seville. Her MSc thesis focuses on single-cell RNA-seq data analysis and she is being co-supervised by Dr. Fernando Casares and me.
  • Grace Wang, who is studying Computational and Applied Math, Data Science and Statistics at Rice University. Since 2022, she has been working on computational and mathematical projects together with Prof. Aryeh Warmflash and me, which hopefully we will be able to announce soon!

Last week we had a very special moment, as we took our first lab picture! Although we missed Grace, as she is located at Rice University, it feels great to be able to show the world the great team that is behind the scenes working on exciting projects. I feel very fortunate to work with these hardworking and brilliant scientists and even better people, and I can’t wait to see what we achieve together. If you want more details about our lab, please have a look at our (also recently finalized) website:

From left to right, Elena Camacho-Aguilar, Andrea Theodorou, and Irene Carrero Castro at the lab bench.

We also published my postdoc’s main piece of work on how combinatorial interpretation of BMP and Wnt signals controls cell fate decisions in early human development. Rice University wrote a press release with a nice summary of our work, but if you are interested in more details, you can find our publication here.

Apart from that, these months have been incredibly busy, and I have been trying to understand how to balance all the responsibilities as a new PI. I had heard and partially seen before how many hats one must wear as a PI, but I didn’t fully grasp the meaning of it until I started to experience it myself.

One of the hats that I am the most inexperienced with and that I am learning how to wear is the one involving bureaucratic processes. Although I thought I had seen it all after being an immigrant in a few countries, it seems like there are always things to learn :-) Jokes aside, last month, for example, I learned the steps needed for hiring people in the lab and helping them settle when the candidates are not from Spain. Luckily, with the advice of great colleagues, it all went smoothly, and if anyone is interested, I have made a step-by-step protocol for next time, which I am happy to share. The next bureaucratic step is to learn how to import reagents from abroad; wish me luck!

Balancing these bureaucratic tasks with other responsibilities has been a learning curve. To deal with long to-do lists, I am currently reading a very interesting book called Four Thousand Weeks. Unlike other productivity books, it encourages prioritizing tasks and accepting that time is limited, rather than trying to fit an endless to-do list into a finite day. As my to-do list grows exponentially, I am working on reflecting on what each task would entail before saying yes, even if it initially might seem exciting.

Overall, despite the challenges, I am thrilled with the progress and the new connections I am making. I hope to share some exciting experimental results in my next update. Talk to you soon!

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Categories: Careers, Lab Life

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