Aida Rodrigo Albors, a post-doctoral researcher in Kate Storey’s lab, has been awarded a two-year Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship. The fellowship will enable Aida to use single-cell transcriptomics and high-resolution microscopy to explore in detail the heterogeneous population of ependymal cells in the mouse spinal cord. Ependymal cells are intriguing because despite having a differentiated phenotype, they retain neural stem cell potential throughout life.
“I am delighted to be awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship. This will give me the freedom to pursue high-quality, innovative research supported by two excellent supervisors and mentors, Professor Kate Storey and Professor Chris Ponting, from the University of Edinburgh. The School of Life Sciences has already proven an outstanding research environment equipped with world-class flow cytometry and light microscopy facilities (as well as their dedicated staff), to help me deliver this challenging project successfully” said Aida.
Professor Kate Storey said, "I am proud of Aida's achievement in the award of this highly competitive fellowship – this signals the start of her more independent research career and most excitingly allows us to begin the first systematic analysis of the genes expressed in individual cells of the adult spinal cord stem cell niche. This study will tell us a lot about adult neural stem cells and how they are regulated. Understanding how gene expression changes in these cells in response to injury or disease may in the future help us to direct more efficient spinal cord repair.”
Journey to Dundee
Each step of Aida’s career path has built her knowledge and fed her enthusiasm for research. Aida completed her undergraduate studies in Biology at the University of Valencia. During her degree she took part in the ERASMUS exchange programme where she spent one year in Wales at Swansea University. “I had never seen so much rain before, or plugs with 3 pins! As most Erasmus students would agree, it was a life-changing experience. One that, far from satiating my curiosity, made it grow” said Aida.
Aida became fascinated by the unique regenerative ability of axolotls, neotenic salamanders. In order to study this, she moved to Dresden in Germany to carry out a PhD in the world’s leading axolotl lab, with Professor Elly Tanaka. Her research focused on understanding how neural stem cells are mobilised to faithfully regenerate the missing spinal cord.
Combining Expert Knowledge
Following her PhD, she came to Dundee and joined the lab of Professor Kate Storey. “Kate and I share an interest in how the neural stem/progenitor cell state is established and regulated, but each of us brings our own expertise: Kate, from embryos; and I, from a regenerative model. I thought this unique combination of experiences would enable us to make sense of the overwhelming heterogeneity of ependymal cells in the spinal cord of adult mammals” explained Aida.
Aida revealed that her long-term goal is to “understand why mammals are much worse than axolotls at resolving spinal cord injuries” and this Fellowship is the first step in that journey.
More information on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship scheme: