Visiting Researchers

TransGeno Visiting Researchers

In an effort to continuously pursue leading research in the field, the TransGeno ERA Chair lab invites accomplished guest researchers to work on a short time basis within our facilities and with our team.  Some of these include the following:

James Ord

I am a visitor to SIME from the University of Sheffield. My PhD project investigates cross-generational effects of environmental stress in the zebrafish (D. rerio), an increasingly popular vertebrate model of health and disease.

During my MSc. in Toxicology at Lancaster University, I developed an interest in environmental epigenetics, i.e. the effect of our environment on gene expression, via chemical modifications to the chromatin landscape known as epigenetic factors. Not only do epigenetic factors provide an interface by which the environment can program our development in an adaptive sense, but they can also influence subsequent generations, via the germ line. In particular, a family of noncoding RNAs known as microRNAs (miRNAs), conveyed in sperm, have been implicated in the transmission of altered phenotypes in mammals in response to paternal stress. However, whether similar mechanisms occur in fish remains unknown.

Having uncovered evidence that paternal stress influences behavioural and physiological traits of D. rerio offspring, my work at SIME aims to characterise, using microarray technology, miRNAs in D. rerio sperm as a function of environmental stress. It is hoped that the work will provide further mechanistic insights into these bizarre cross-generational effects, which continue to add exciting new dimensions to our understanding of inheritance.

My visit to the University of Tartu is funded by the Dora Plus grant scheme (European Union regional development fund).

Arina Lavrits

I am a visiting researcher from the Competence Centre on Health Technologies. I entered the University of Tartu in 2010. My scientific career started a year later after joining the research group of Sulev Ingerpuu.

As an undergraduate student, I studied laminins – the constituents of ECM (extracellular matrix), particularly the mechanism of their secretion from the choriocarcinoma cell line. After defending the BSc thesis, I continued my studies as a collaborator of the Competence Centre on Health Technologies investigating the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in the interaction between trophoblast and endometrium. In 2016, I started my PhD studies focusing on the investigation of endometriosis (the role of EVs in the pathology of endometriosis and different therapeutic agents used in the treatment of endometriosis). In addition to pathological aspects of reproductive biology, I am interested in the understanding of the role of EVs in the embryo-maternal interaction. Thus, my work at TRANSGENO GroupSIME is related to the investigation of EVs secreted by IVF (in vitro fertilized) embryos. I am currently developing an optimal technique for isolation and purification of the EVs and characterization of them (electron microscopy, protein and RNA composition).