Current Lab Members

The Vincentome

Cyrille Alexandre

Principal Laboratory Research Scientist & Genome Editing Expert

Research interests: Optogenetics, Drosophila hormones, growth termination

Leisure interests: Hiking, running, photography

I was born in Ivory Coast and I grew up in Burkina Faso where the sun shines. I went to Montpellier for University (Retrovirology). After several post-docs (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY= c-fos oncogene regulation of transcription, LRI = Hedgehog signalling in Drosophila), I joined JP’s lab (NIMR) in 1997 as a post-doc. I am interested in the morphogen gradients (Wingless, Hedgehog and Dpp) and still trying to understand why they are called morphogens. I spend my time building new genetics tools to study our favourite signalling pathways in Drosophila, for example reporters for live-imaging, transcriptional reporters, new knock-outs, and etc. When the sun shines, I chill out in my garden and take pictures.

Gantas Perez-Mockus

Postdoctoral Training Fellow

Research interests: Growth control, ecdysone, nuclear receptors

Leisure interests: Running, sci-fi books, dancing

I did my PhD in Pasteur in the lab of Francois Schweisguth focusing on how Neuralized, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, could regulate cell shape changes and tissue morphogenesis. Now for my postdoc in the Vincent Lab, I am interested in growth control and the role of ecdysone and its receptor.

Anqi Huang

Postdoctoral Training Fellow

Research interests: Developmental reproducibility, precision, canalisation

Leisure interests: Variation, stochasticity, complex dynamics

I graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai with BSc Biology in 2013. I then moved to the Mechanobiology Institute in the National University of Singapore for my PhD. I am generally interested in understanding how precise patterning is achieved in a developing organism. During my PhD in Timothy Saunders Lab, I studied Bicoid-mediated patterning in the Drosophila embryo. In 2019, I moved to the Vincent Lab to test whether the principles I deciphered in the embryo apply later in development, specifically in the wing imaginal discs. Unlike the embryo, discs patterning occurs concomitantly with growth. It is therefore more complex to process than embryonic patterning and exciting to study.

Ana Bolhaqueiro

Postdoctoral Training Fellow

Research interests: JNK, death, proliferation

Leisure interests: Cats, travelling, dancing

I am a postdoctoral scientist in the Vincent Lab. I obtained my MSc in Cellular and Molecular Biology from University of Coimbra (Portugal) in 2013. During my PhD in Geert Kops Lab at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht (the Netherlands), I used the patient-derived tumour organoids to determine the levels of chromosomal instability in colorectal cancer and its impact on tumour heterogeneity. I joined the Vincent Lab in January 2020 and was awarded a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship. I am now studying how a tissue subject to acute or chronic stress can replace defective cells with healthy ones, ensuring the formation of a functioning organ. I use fruit flies and optogenetics to answer these questions.

Ines Alvarez Rodrigo

Postdoctoral Training Fellow

Research interests: Wg, microscopy, endocytosis

Leisure interests: Reading & writing stories, film & TV, travelling

I am from Valladolid (Spain), but I did my undergraduate in Biological Sciences (Hons: Genetics) at the University of Edinburgh (2011 – 2015). I carried out summer internships in Leigh Brown Lab at the University of Edinburgh, and in the Lindon Lab as part of the Cambridge Amgen Scholars Programme 2014. I did my DPhil in the Raff Lab as part of the Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD Programme in Chromosome and Developmental Biology. There I studied how centrosome assembly is regulated by PLK1 kinase. At the Vincent Lab I am employing my love for Drosophila and microscopy to study how Wg is secreted and transported in tissues during signalling.

David Willnow

Postdoctoral Training Fellow

Research interests: Development, morphogens, signalling

Leisure interests: History, books, nature

My name is David, and I am a postdoc in the Vincent lab. Before I joined the lab, I was working on development of the pancreas and liver in the mouse embryo, specifically the fate segregation of common hepato-pancreato-biliary progenitors into their distinct cell lineages. My current project aims at elucidating mechanisms that underlie the formation and maintenance of morphogen gradients. Specifically, I am interested interactions between wingless and extracellular binders and the role that they play in shaping wingless gradients and signalling dynamics.

Nalle Pentinmikko

Postdoctoral Training Fellow

Research interests: Cell-cell interactions, patterning, injury repair

Leisure interests: Birdwatching, running, climbing

Tissue function depends on a communal action of multiple cell types each performing their dedicated role. The optimal number and pattern of different cell types is set during the development, but often altered in aged or diseased tissues. Previously, I have investigated how the communication between stem cells and their supportive niche changes during aging and how it influences the regenerative capacity. My current research is focused in understanding the communication of different cell-types during the process of injury repair to facilitate the re-establishment of homeostasis.

Miruna Androniciuc

PhD student

Research interests: Wnt, proteomics, chemical biology

Leisure interests: Kickboxing, movies, board games

My name is Mira. I am a final year PhD student (also joined with the lab of Prof. Ed Tate, Imperial College London) currently working on un-biased methods to identify novel Wnt interactors using fly genetics, chemical biology, and proteomics. In the past I have worked in the lab of Dr Jon Wilden (UCL) on a novel synthesis of alpha-aminosulphonamides. I am a proud chemist turned into even prouder fly person.

Yifan Zhao

PhD student

Research interests: Growth deceleration, oxygen, Sima

Leisure interests: Piano, taking walks, photography

I did my undergraduate in Biochemistry at Imperial College London. In my final year, I joined the Vincent Lab to explore the mystery behind growth termination. Before officially becoming a PhD student here, I obtained a MRes back at the Imperial in Tony Southall Lab, where I engineered the Tn5 transposase to improve the technique of DamID. Since 2019, I started to focus on the deceleration of growth and the potential contribution of Similar (Sima) to the process. Meanwhile I am also characterising an unannotated gene and investigating its role in growth termination.

Maria Mikhaylova

PhD student

Research interests: Growth, optogenetics, RNA-Seq

Leisure interests: Nature, art, mountaineering

My name is Masha and I joined the Vincent Lab in October 2021. I graduated from the faculty of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2018. Before joining the Vincent Lab, I worked on protein synthesis regulation and non-AUG translation initiation in mammalian cells. Now I am interested in how morphogens regulate growth at the transcriptional level in developing Drosophila wing disc. To answer this question, I am using fast optogenetics approach to manipulate the level of Dpp and Wg and their antagonists to reveal the immediate transcription targets that affect cell growth and proliferation during development.

Sophie Schmidt

PhD student

Research interests: Glycobiology, Drosophila, chemical biology

Leisure interests: Dancing, cooking, board games

I studied chemistry at Imperial College London and was awarded an MSci in 2022. I first came to the Crick during my Masters project in the Schumann Lab, where I used a chemical engineering tool to investigate the role of a specific glycosyltransferase in colorectal cancer. I then returned to the Crick as a joint PhD student between the Vincent Lab and the Schumann Lab in October 2022. I am currently working on implementing a new method to label proteins using their glycans, or sugars, in Drosophila. I hope to use this method to study the secretome of dying cells and how this contributes to tissue homeostasis. 

Benjamin Aleyakpo

Laboratory Research Scientist

Research interests: Molecular biology techniques, Drosophila research, ribosomopathies

Leisure interests: Family time, wild camping, long cycling trips, activities in my local church choir

I had my first degree in Lagos Nigeria, where I studied Biochemistry and worked on an exciting project to find natural soil microbes that degrade polycyclic hydrocarbons. Afterwards, I moved to the UK to study and get degrees in Biotechnology and Management (MSc), and Molecular Neurobiology (PhD). I got introduced to the use of Drosophila melanogaster (Fruit fly) in research whilst in the UK and have since had several adventures with this model in: Studying genes involved in alcohol related behaviours; Neurodegeneration and Ribosomopathies, in the University of East London, University College London and University of Cambridge. Currently at the J.P. Vincent lab, I work with an amazing team of very talented scientists and use the Drosophila model to study the mechanism of ribosomopathies, my work will also involve the use of IPS cells.