The Knox in the box (lab)

John hiHi everyone! I’m John(johnjohnjohn). After much encouragement (and a bit of a push) Kevin has got me to write a little something for the blog. So what a better way than to introduce myself. You may already recognize me from some previous posts (especially in October) and my small cameo on TV regarding the sunscreen trial (I make a great example of how not to apply sunscreen!). However, it’s about time you got to know the person behind the face.

Pratt Figure 1c
My face as it appeared in the sunscreen challenge study. It was quite an eye-opener!

Originally from Scotland, I’ve lived most of my life in Liverpool, and clearly it’s made an impression on me as I decided to stay and study my undergrad here. I completed my 3 year undergrad at the University of Liverpool studying Pharmacology, and completed two research projects in third year: a lab project on HMGB1 and a literature review of transporter proteins at the blood-brain-barrier. I also completed a summer placement in the lab of Prof. Chris Goldring, where my days were filled with nothing by endless Western blots. Joyous times indeed! 😉

After my undergrad, I went on to do an MRes in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine. I mainly focused on drug safety, and my three projects focused on drug hypersensitivity and adipocyte toxicity and survival. This is where I became really interested in molecular biology, and also where I became convinced that a PhD was what I wanted to do.

And so to a year ago (or slightly more as I’m writing this). I applied for a PhD with Prof. Colin Willoughby, Prof. George Bou-Gharios and Kevin (previously advertised here). For some reason, they thought I was the best candidate and now I’m a year and 3 months in. I’m going to have to disappoint and say that laminins are not my main interest. The project is looking at the role connective tissue growth factor in an eye disease called glaucoma. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness world-wide. One of the main risk factors (and the one we can treat) is elevated intraocular pressure. We think that CTGF plays a role in causing this elevation, so we want to look at what it does and how we can stop it. One cool aspect is the potential to use a transgenic mouse to model the changes in the eye when CTGF is overexpressed, and model the development of glaucoma associated with this!

Going forward, things look very exciting. Being in second year, the pressure is on to get loads of data. Colin has gone off to Northern Ireland to work at Ulster University (although he is still my supervisor) so Kevin is going to be keeping a close eye on me (though he’s been doing a lot of that already!). The lab is great, as are the people working in it. I am glad to be working here.

Stay tuned for a more detailed introduction into what my project is about.

Until next time


Kevin must have said something funny to make me laugh.

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