MRC’s Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College London – October update

Worming our way to a new understanding of behaviour

The wriggling and writhing of worms may hold clues to the inner workings of our brains, according to scientists at the MRC’s Clinical Sciences Centre (CSC). The researchers have developed a pioneering tool to analyse a worm’s posture as it wriggles, and will use the tool to investigate how exactly the worm’s brain controls its movements.

Postdocs were freed to ask “stupid questions” at the inaugural postdoc retreat. The day-long event was organised by postdocs for postdocs.

“The science was great, but I think the biggest benefit is networking and getting to know the community in which we work. Finding out what people are working on so you know who to approach when you want to speak specifically about an area of research that you’re unfamiliar with is invaluable,” said Dr Angela Woods, a senior investigator scientist in the CSC’s Cellular Stress group.

Watch a video of the postdoc retreat at https://

Vahid Shahrezaei is the new mathematician–in-residence at the CSC.

He’s been running a biomathematics group in the maths department of Imperial College since 2008, and is now taking up a visiting position that teams him up with the CSC’s biologists.

He’s looking forward to bumping into biologists day-to-day, and though hasn’t yet sat in a lab with the CSC’s scientists, he’d like to try that out too. Regular interaction with biologists, Vahid says, is an important part of the atmosphere of the CSC, and key to creative collaborations.

Watch Miguel-Aliaga’s interview at https://

The Journal of Cell Science has selected Irene Miguel-Aliaga, who leads the CSC’s Gut Signalling and Metabolism and is a Reader at Imperial College, as a ‘Cell Scientist to Watch’.

Miguel-Aliaga is one of four chosen so far by the journal for a series it says will “support the next generation of cell biologists.”

Last week, the journal published a two-page article and a video interview with Miguel-Aliaga in which she discusses how a TV series about lizard aliens invading Earth inspired her to become a scientist.

She also talks about setbacks in science. “I think sometimes the roadblocks are your own set of preconceptions,” says Miguel-Aliaga. She also thinks that we can be our own worst enemy: “Human nature means that, even if we try not to be, we tend to be too hypothesis driven.”

Also this month

In our series of scientific seminars, Art Arnold from the University of California, warned CSC scientists that preclinical experiments must not exclude female cells and animals. He said that it has traditionally been thought that females, with menstrual cycles and fluctuating hormone levels, are poor test subjects. But research in his lab shows that this is a myth. According to Arnold, when it comes to scientific research, women and men are comparable subjects.

Find out more about the latest news, events and activities at the CSC: http://csc.mrc.ac.uk/news/

Deborah Oakley
Science Communications Officer
MRC Clinical Sciences Centre

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *