I graduated from the University of Sheffield where I studied an MBiolSci in Biochemistry and Genetics. My first research experience was at the University of Manchester on a vacation placement, researching transcriptional networks in Oesophageal cancer, this inspired my interest in cell culture and cancer research. My masters project was in the Thompson lab, researching the interdependency, localisation and functional redundancy of the human exosome helicases. Completing this independent research project inspired me to apply for this PhD. I found this PhD project particularly exciting as it allows me to combine many of the scientific areas that interest me.
Neuroblastoma is one of the most common paediatric tumours and accounts for 15% of childhood mortalities. The tumour arises during the development of the sympathetic nervous system from the trunk neural crest cells. A wide range of genetic aberrations have been identified as common including chromosome gains/losses and specific gene amplifications/deletions. Gain of the 17q chromosome arm and MYCN overexpression are two of the most common and deadly genetic alterations. Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) can be directed to differentiate into any human cell type. My project will use the directed differentiation of hPSCs into trunk neural crest cells and their derivatives to model the initiation of neuroblastoma in vitro. I aim to observe phenotypic differences during initiation in cells that contain the common genetic aberrations in neuroblastoma and characterise the enhancer contribution to these phenotypes.