2022 year in review

A final post to end the year and a quick look back on what has been going on…

Growing up…

The big coming of age stories – four PhD students, Liam Shaw, Conor Sugden, John Knox and Jiraroch Meevassana completed their studies and were awarded their PhDs. Each were huge achievements and make me extremely proud. This marked a changing on the guard in the Hamill lab as each of these “characters” had been with the team for 4+ years. Liam and Conor even longer as they also did Masters projects with the team. Liam, Conor and John have all gone on to postdoctoral positions, while Jiraroch has returned to his position as a burn surgeon but now with a research remit. I fully expect to hear great things from these new Drs.

The new guard of PhD students also have been growing up – Natasha, Bilge and Fawziah all made huge strides in their projects. They each presented their work at the British Society of Matrix Biology meeting and at the North of England Cell Biology meetings. We also welcomed two new students, Arda and Aesha, to the team. Arda working on senescence, Aesha working on vascular leakiness. Expect more from them soon!

I also went to my first international conference since COVID. The entire conference was on the inherited ocular disorder aniridia. Held in Nijmegen, in a beautiful historic venue, and the meeting provided an excellent opportunity to meet with researchers from all over Europe working on this rare but debilitating ocular disorder. Certainly nice to get back to meeting people and being inspired

Papers, books, grants and patents

’22 was one of our best years for productivity. Lots of students finishing also meant many projects coming to the end, catching up from some of the COVID delays. There was quite a lot of diversity in what came out…

In the LaNts and laminins area, Conor published his big paper on our new mouse model, the first in vivo Lant studies. Lee’s breast cancer paper came out, Jiraroch published his work on using laminins to treat burn wounds, and Natasha, Fawziah, and Bilge wrote a nice review on LaNts, laminins and netrins.

Other primary data work done through my lab included John’s work on micro RNAs in glaucoma, co-supervised by Colin Willoughby, and some very different work by Frank Preston looking at publication ethics and de-identificaiton. Danielle and Josh’s comprehensive review on self tanning also came out.

Other projects that I was involved in included a nice paper on corneal plasticity, a prognostic paper on BRAF mutation in cutaneous melanoma, a systematic review on corneal suture techniques, and an analysis of risk factors for corneal wound healing.

Of course, the book – Life in the Lab – Previously only available online , became available in print on Amazon. Your cat, child and PhD student will love it!

Grant monies have been hard to secure lately, (Brexit, COVID and Conservative policy), but we celebrated substantial funding from Innovate UK to do an exciting project with MiNa Therapeutics. This funding is to push forward our new research into a treatment for aniridia and is super exciting. Directly related to that, a patent was filed in December for our new short-activating RNA, which means I can now talk a little more openly about this work. Expect some updates in 2023

Fun stuff

Feels like I don’t take enough photos of the fun times – but here are a selection:

Of course, there is also the Danger Llama card game. First played as a “draw your own” version with blank cards in the pub and now as a Christmas gift for the team.

Website update

Whilst writing this post, I realised that I hadn’t really done a “year in review” for awhile. The previous time was 2014 not long after the website was started. That year, the website had a total of 144 views. 111 of which were from the UK (and I probably knew almost everyone). This year, the situation is a little different…

In 2022, the final view count is ~48,000 hits, roughly 130 per day, from 25,000 visitors. Overall the website has now almost reached almost 200.000 hits (scroll down this page past the galleries to see the live total).

This year’s visitors came from 167 different countries. UK still tops the list, with US, India, Philippines and Pakistan rounding out the top 5.

As you know, the website is a strange mix of lab updates, lay summaries of our published work, teaching quizzes, and writing resources. I always hope that some of the people that come for one reason will stay for at least one of the others! Top of the view count this year are the student quizzes – the new Genetic Pedigree quizzes feature highly, while the perennial favourites in the lab skills areas still see regular traffic. Other evergreen content included the statistics tests flow chart, advice on how to write about non-significant findings, and the other writing guides. Our sunscreen work, intro to laminins and experimental design guides are also popular.

slide show below of some of the “stuff” posted this year…

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