Back-in-the Lab!

During lockdown we baked…

We grew things…

Beatrice’s tomato plants (before they got huge!)

And we caught up on our scientific reading, planned experiments for when we get back, organised lab primers and plasmids on Benchling (thanks Jack!), did our first experiment with NOD SCIDs (thanks Lee!), and discussed Tiger King.

Ready to walk through this door soon and get things up and going again! Thanks to everyone for their hardwork and patience during this weird time.

Thanks to lab managers and everyone across SLS for making it safe for us to return.

Spring Travels

Before covid-19 closed most of the world to travel, we made a few visits to conferences and to visit collaborators. Unfortunately, the pandemic also meant that travel after April for the remainder of the year would be much restricted. We’re looking forward to seeing the parasitology community in online conferences, and in 2021!

Mattie went to Tucson, Arizona to visit some collaborators at the University of Arizona. Curtis Thorne’s group (a fellow Texan) develops technology to study intestinal organoids in 2D in plates. It was great to chat about how we could collaborate in the future.

Fantastic mural on the main drag in Tucson, Arizona. Great collection of cactus in a neighbourhood yard. The view from Curtis’ office.

Mattie also visited Sterling Labs, home of the famous “Sterling Iowa II” C. parvum strain. Thanks Debbie and her group for chatting with me about all things Crypto.

Mattie visited Sterling Labs, in the newly renovated Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences Building at the University of Arizona. Thanks for chatting with me Debbie!

While in Arizona, Mattie also got to see the sights: Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and Taliesin West!

Horseshoe Bend, the Colorado River.
A slot canyon outside of Page, Arizona. Erosion of the Navajo Sandstone creates beautiful shadows.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s “summer camp” where he trained the next generation of architects.

At the end of January, Mattie and Emma attended the Keystone Meeting: Tissue Organoids as Models of Host Physiology and Pathophysiology of Disease in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was amazing to hear work from Thad Stappenbeck, David Sibley discuss the air-liquid-interface model for continuous culture of Cryptosporidium, and Mary Estes about norovirus. Mary also taped a great podcast episode with the American Society for Microbiology.

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Emma gave a poster about her work to adopt ALI in the Pawlowic lab!

Thanks to the meeting organisers and the Crypto group for lots of new ideas, feedback, and inspiring science.

The last day of the conference was Emma’s birthday! We celebrated with a walk around Vancouver that included this great sunset.

Mattie also got to visit the Striepen lab for a quick visit. It was meant to coincide with the PATH biannual Symposium on Innovative Therapeutics for Cryptosporidium, which was the first meeting to be canceled due to covid-19. Thanks to Boris and the group for great discussions, sharing new and exciting data, and a delicious Ethiopian food dinner.

Jennie brought me my favorite beer from Athens, and Alexis shared her most recent crotchet project with me. Science friends are the best!

When Mattie returned from the USA, we closed the lab 3 days later. Scotland is fairing well in the fight against covid-19 at the moment and we are especially grateful for our outstanding Tayside NHS.

We are hoping to reopen the labs soon and resume research!

Building collaboration with Ghanaian scientists

The Pawlowic Lab has been hosting a WCAIR Trainee, Mr. Senyo Botchie, since July 2019. While in Dundee, Senyo has been learning the basics of Cryptosporidium culture, detection, and drug discovery.

He was recently featured on the university blog: https://blog.dundee.ac.uk/one-dundee/dundee-experience-to-help-ghanaian-scientist-tackle-parasite/

We are proud of what Senyo has accomplished while in Scotland and look forward to continuing to collaborate with him and his supervisor, Dr. Irene Ayi, and her group at the Noguchi Memorial Medical Research Institute at the University of Ghana.

Thanks to WCAIR for sponsoring Senyo’s training and the University of Dundee Global Challenges Research Fund for supporting our growing collaborative research.

UPDATE as of March 1st

We sent 46 boxes of supplies and equipment to Ghana so that Senyo and his lab will have everything they need to carry out our research collaboration. Thanks to Mike and his Stores team for all the help arranging the shipment! Also thanks to Suze Farrell, the other WCAIR trainees, and FedEx for sending this hero-sized shipment!

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Our hero!

ImagePackages arrived in Accra! Look at those smiling faces!

UPDATE as of August

Covid delayed Senyo’s access to the lab and to the qPCR machines (that were busy running covid tests)… but eventually he was able to run qPCR assays for detection of Cryptosporidium in clinical samples. Below is his exemplary standard curve!

In late June, Dr. Ayi, Senyo, and the lab took a trip to the field to collect fecal samples from school-aged children with assistance from community workers. This included a boat ride!

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Senyo’s group took the fecal samples back to the lab, extracted DNA, and analysed each sample for the presence of Cryptosporidium using qPCR. This method allows us to detect which species of Cryptosporidium is responsible for the infection (C. parvum or C. hominis) and also quantifies how much Cryptosporidium is present in the sample.

UPDATE as of October

Senyo found that approximately a third of the samples collected from the field were positive for Cryptosporidium! He then took the samples with the highest number of parasites, and purified parasites from the fecal material to get pure parasites to work with.

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Senyo building capacity for Cryptosporidium research within the Ayi Lab.

He had a look down the microscope and saw this:

UPDATE as of December, 2020

Senyo, Dr. Irene Ayi, and another WCAIR trainee publish a short communication on their efforts to develop natural product drug discovery for cryptosporidiosis in Africa. Click below to view the publication:

https://www.journaljsrr.com/index.php/JSRR/article/view/30311/56885

Thanks

Thanks to Dr. Irene Ayi for starting Cryptosporidium research in Ghana and for all her support in this collaboration.

Dr. Irene Ayi, Senior Research Fellow at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research

Thanks to contract and research services offices at both University of Dundee, University of Ghana, and Noguchi.

Thanks to our admin and lab manager teams for processing invoices, tech support for submitting all the orders.

Thanks to Stores for helping us ship items to Ghana.

Thanks to the WCAIR training program for supporting Senyo and the project (Suze, Lauren, Catharine, Ola, Sandra, all the trainees).

Thanks to the rest of the lab for supporting this collaborative project! For squeezing into a tiny office and for sharing your enthusiasm for Cryptosporidium.

And a big thanks to Alistair Strickland and the University of Dundee GCRF team for funding the project and all the support along the way.

Congrats Beatrice and Emma!

Congrats to Beatrice on the success of her project application to the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research. Ross provided supporting data, ideas, and writing. Beatrice was awarded £10,000 for her project. She had to win over all of WCAIR with a 5 minute “pitch”, then write a 2 page application, and present to the WCAIR management board. It was worth it though, and we’re all excited to see her develop the project over the next year!

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Congrats to Emma for being selected for a travel grant from hellobio!

Emma was also awarded a conference travel grant from the Disease Models & Mechanisms and The Company of Biologists Limited.

This will support her travel to attend the Keystone Meeting “Tissue Organoids as Models of Host Physiology and Pathophysiology of Disease” in Vancouver in January 2020.

 

Emma

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You can read more about it here: https://t.co/cY9mhFsUux?amp=1