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Leading a Research Group in Europe - Part II: United Kingdom

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Throughout the next few months ISEH member, Christophe Lancrin, will be highlighting his professional journey working in various European countries. This month we travel to the United Kingdom.


Last month, I have started a series of blogs to give a snapshot of how it is to work in academia in Europe. In the first entry, I presented the French system where tenure track is not common and young scientists who just completed their post-doctoral research could get permanent state-funded positions right away.

In this new entry, I will discuss the British system. For the readers who are based in the US, they will notice similarities between the two countries. In particular, a starting group leader has usually to go through the tenure track process before being awarded a permanent position.

I did my post-doctoral research in the UK at the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research now Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute. Cancer Research UK is one of the largest charities in Europe and provides c…

Exploring Experimental Hematology: Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Modeling of Malignant Hematopoiesis

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In this issue of Simply Blood, Yoon-A Kang is exploring Experimental Hematology by highlighting and deconstructing one of her favorite manuscripts from the ISEH society journal: "Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Modeling of Malignant Hematopoiesis"

The discovery of a means to induce cellular pluripotency by introducing four transcription factors (Sox2, Klf4, Oct3/4 and c-Myc) (Takahashi et al., 2007) has heralded a global scientific re-thinking of genetics and epigenetics among developmental processes and disease. A decade later, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) with genome editing technology have now opened doors to help answer questions previously limited in the past. Here is a sneak preview of an excellent review where Mark Chao and Ravindra Majeti cover this line of work and more:

My reason for reading this review:
Disease modeling provides important first steps to understand disease pathology and underlying mechanisms that inform ways to eventually discover therapeut…

Clonal Dynamics at the Stem Cell Level in the Progression of Myelodysplastic Syndrome to Acute Myeloid Leukemia: An Interview with Jiahao Chen

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A widely known fact is that patients diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) are at a significantly increased risk for developing subsequent acute myeloid leukemia (AML).  However, how these clinical entities are related at a clonal level has not been well elucidated, let alone studied at the single-cell-level in comparing stem and blast cell populations from the same individual over time. At last year’s ISEH 2018 meeting in Los Angeles, I met Jiahao Chen, the first author of a recently published paper from Dr. Ulrich Steidl’s lab at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who addressed these knowledge gaps (Chen et al. 2019).  Here are answers to a few follow-up questions about his work that was first reported at the annual meeting.



1.  What is the most important take-home message readers should get from your work?

I would say that the most important message from our work comes from our demonstration that stem cells within MDS and AML have a much higher level of clonal he…

Lab Spotlight: Chan Lab

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Each month, Simply Blood spotlights a lab focused on the research of basic hematology, immunology, stem cell research, cell and gene therapy, and other related aspects. Get to know these different labs around the world! This month, we are featuring the Chan lab at the University of Toronto (Canada).


How long have you had your lab?
I started my lab in November 2015 and it has been quite a learning experience and exciting journey so far!

How many members make up your lab?  Students/postdocs?
My lab currently has 1 technician, 1 clinical fellow, 3 postdocs, 1 graduate student and 1 undergraduate student.

What is the major research theme of your lab?
We study acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and are interested in elucidating its functional dependencies on certain metabolic and mitochondrial pathways to identify novel therapeutic targets for this disease.  We also have an interest in determining whether it is possible to intervene earlier during stages of pre-leukemia and/or clonal hematopoies…

New Investigators: You got engaged?

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As the importance of public engagement is increasingly recognised, the phrase is being used more frequently.

We all love haematology research, and are fortunate that the public, through governments and charities, supports us strongly enough that they are willing to pay for our experiments (and our rent…). Researchers have a responsibility to return the favour – to inform the public about what we do and how it benefits them, answer their questions, and listen to their expectations for our research. These collaborative interactions between experts and non-experts have been labelled public engagement. To ensure that they are serving society as effectively as possible, scientific institutions are increasingly encouraging, and sometimes even requiring, researchers to engage with the community. Public engagement in the sciences aims to expand from the traditional approach where the only goal was to increase the public’s understanding of science, to focus on mutual interactions…

Exploring Experimental Hematology: RUNX1 and the Endothelial Origin of Blood

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In this issue of Simply Blood, Teresa Bowman is exploring Experimental Hematology by highlighting and deconstructing one of her favorite manuscripts from the ISEH society journal: "RUNX1 and the Endothelial Origin of Blood" by Gao et al.


The functionality of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to replenish and maintain the entire hematopoietic system is the basis for bone marrow transplantation, one of the most well established stem cell-based therapies. Transplantation is curative for many hematologic disorders, but immune-matched donor cells remain limited for many patients. Understanding how HSCs form endogenously during development should provide key insights into expanding donor HSCs from existing sources or generating HSCs from pluripotent stem cells. HSCs first arise during embryonic development through an endothelial-to-hematopoietic transition. Extensive work over the past decade has revealed that not all endothelial cells possess the capacity to form blood cells, and t…

Leading a Research Group in Europe - Part I: France

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Throughout the next few months ISEH member, Christophe Lancrin, will be highlighting his professional journey working in various European countries. This month we travel to France to explore Christophe's knowledge about the two main state-funded scientific organizations and the most typical way to enter the French system.


“When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do”, I think we have heard this phrase when we want to emphasize that each country may have their own way to do certain things. But have you wonder if “Roman’s” have a specific way to become and being a Principal Investigator? The short answer is yes, and not only Italian’s but I found differences among at least three different European countries that I have worked. Whether you are looking for a job opportunity in Europe or just to expand your knowledge on how is to do research among different countries, I am sure you will find this Blog series very useful.

Over my research career, I have worked in France, United Kingdom and Ital…

Lab Spotlight: Butler lab

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Each month, Simply Blood spotlights a lab focused on the research of basic hematology, immunology, stem cell research, cell and gene therapy, and other related aspects. Get to know these different labs around the world! This month, we are featuring the Butler lab at the Center for Discovery and Innovation, Hackensack University Medical Center, in New Jersey.


About the PI: Jason Butler is an Associate Professor at the Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), Hackensack University Medical Center. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Florida (2001-2005), under the supervision of Edward Scott. He then moved to New York as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Shahin Rafii, at Weill Cornell, where he primarily studied the role of bone marrow endothelial cells in hematopoiesis (2006-2010). In 2011 he started his own research group at Weill Cornell, to further investigate how to modulate hematopoietic vascular niches in the context of embryonic development, aging and blood malignanci…

Exploring Experimental Hematology: MISTRG

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In this issue of Simply Blood, Leonid Olender is Exploring Experimental Hematology and highlighting and deconstructing one of his favorite manuscripts from the ISEH society journal: "MISTRG Mice Support Engraftment and Assessment of Nonhuman Primate Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells."



Development of novel Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cell (HSPC)-mediated gene therapy strategies for various hematological disorders has become a popular and highly competitive niche of biomedical research over the past two decades. One of the main challenges in the field is development of animal models that would allow to check the efficiency of such new therapies, as well as to address safety issues before proceeding to clinical trials. In their recent paper in Experimental Hematology Dr. Radtke and Dr. Rongvaux show how the MISTRG mouse they developed might be a useful tool to overcome these obstacles.

What to expect in this paper?

Non-human primates (NHPs) are commonly used as larg…

ISEH March 2019 – Message from the President: Bertie Gottgens

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Many of you will have seen that the call for abstracts is now open for our annual meeting at https://www.iseh.org/page/2019AbstractsandSpeakers.  The official countdown to the 48th annual ISEH meeting has therefore begun.  I am really excited by the program put together by our scientific Program Committee, chaired by Emmanuelle Passegué, with a superb line-up of speakers across the broad research interests of our membership (https://www.iseh.org/page/2019Program).

Please consider submitting an abstract and/or encourage others to do so.  In addition to securing a place in one of the legendary poster sessions at ISEH, 33 of the submitted abstracts will be selected for oral presentation at the meeting. Having such a large proportion of talks selected from submitted abstracts is indeed a distinguishing feature of the ISEH meeting.  As those of you who attend our meeting regularly will know, the abstract-selected talks often report the most-exciting and cuttin…

Announcing the 2019 ISEH Award Winners - David Scadden and David Traver

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On behalf of the Awards Committee, we are very excited to announce the recipients of the 2019 International Society for Experimental Hematology (ISEH) Honorific Awards, which will be presented to David Scadden and David Traver at the Annual Scientific Meeting in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. In addition to their well-recognized status as world-wide leaders in the field of Hematology, both recipients are long-standing and active members of the ISEH community. We have been educated and inspired by their scientific insights as well as impressed by their unwavering mentorship and leadership efforts, and hope you will join us in offering them our sincere congratulations for their well-deserved receipt of our highest ISEH honors.

McCulloch and Till Award – David Traver
This award is intended to recognize early to mid-career scientists who have made a substantial impact in the field of Hematology

David Traver PhD, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, and of Cell and Developmental Bi…

Lab Spotlight: Steidl Lab

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Each month, Simply Blood spotlights a lab focused on the research of basic hematology, immunology, stem cell research, cell and gene therapy, and other related aspects.  Get to know these different labs around the world! This month, we are featuring the Steidl Lab at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York, USA.



How long have you had your lab?   
11 years

How many members make up your lab? Students/postdocs?  
14 total, 5 graduate students, 6 postdocs, 3 technicians

What is the major research theme of your lab?   
Molecular Regulation and Targeting of Pre-Cancerous and Cancer Stem Cells in Hematopoiesis and Leukemogenesis

What is the most exciting project in your lab right now?  
We have several highly exciting projects going on in the lab right now. One project I am particularly excited about is using single molecule analysis to study transcription state dynamics in normal and malignant stem cell differentiation. Through a novel methodology at the single cell and si…

PIs at the Bench

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Keep working at the bench or keep locked in the office? There are no clear regulations about this question so you may wonder about it too. In this short blog I will give no answer, but rather suggest some of my own thoughts. Please do not hesitate to add your reflections as there is not just one correct answer in real life.

Some of the best advice for any new PI includes the truth that it is a major transition: from doing your own experiments into managing a whole lab. The multiple duties of a new PI are time-consuming. Some PIs do have a personal life, so it is not much of a choice doing what you love or just what you have to do ASAP. You must spend most of your time in the office. But most is not all. YES, you CAN find the time for anything you really want to do. Some find the wet-lab work unattractive anyhow, some keep enjoying the work at the bench, so give it a thought so you may plan ahead and not have to compromise with other duties.

My father used to tell me that if I will si…

Exploring Experimental Hematology: Modeling human RNA spliceosome mutations in the mouse: not all mice were created equal

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Chances are, you came across this hashtag last month: #10yearschallenge. Whether it was you or your Hollywood crush, you know it: people posted 2009/2019 side-by-side pictures on social media. Some people used it to spark up a conversation on climate change, “What Earth will look like in 2029?” Others (well, myself) thought instead: “What is the #10yearschallenge in cancer research?

Across the globe, population aging is becoming one of the biggest social transformations of this century. By 2029, almost 1 in every 5 residents in the U.S. will be of retirement age. Aging is a risk factor for virtually every cancer, and this means that our current challenge is to understand, and to model age-associated cancers, such as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and related myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms (MDS/MPN). In their review, “Modeling human RNA spliceosome mutations in the mouse: not all mice were created equal”, Carl Walkley and colleagues go over the murine models recapitulati…

How to Handle Scientific Rejection

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Rejection.  If you asked people on the street, what they think of when they hear this word most people would relate to unsuccessful romantic attempts, perhaps being denied a car or mortgage loan, or even having your layup attempt swatted into the third row at your YMCA pickup basketball game.  But for research scientists this word conjures up different connotations – usually conveying unsuccessful attempts at applying for jobs, funding or publishing manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals.  For most of us, ~80% of all such attempts are unsuccessful and thus come back with an email containing the dreaded “R” word.  Given that academic PIs spend the majority of their time writing grants and papers, one must find ways to deal with rejection if they are to overcome the obstacles and pursue a successful research career.

From my own perspective (faculty for 6.5 years), it has been something that I have to consciously make an effort not to take personally.  You pour in so much of your blood, s…

Simply Blood Lab Spotlight: Challen Lab

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Each month, Simply Blood spotlights a lab focused on the research of basic hematology, immunology, stem cell research, cell and gene therapy, and other related aspects.  Get to know these different labs around the world! This month, we are featuring the Challen Lab at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.



How long have you had your lab? 
I have been independent faculty at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, USA) for 6.5 years.

How many members make up your lab?  Students/postdocs?
We currently have 7 permanent members of the lab (3 students, 2 post-docs, 2 technicians), plus a rotating cast of other characters (undergraduates, summer students, rotation students).

What is the major research theme of your lab?
Our laboratory research focuses on the epigenetic regulation of normal and malignant hematopoiesis.  That is, how do epigenetic factors regulate the balance between self-renewal and differentiation in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), …