Abigail Laura Jackson
Human Stem Cell Biology
Blegdamsvej 3B, 2200 København N, 6.4
As a developmental biologist I am interested in how organs and structures within the embryo grow and become specialized to perform specific functions, often vital for life outside the womb. As part of the Semb lab I am currently focusing on understanding how the pancreas develops in the embryo. Specifically, I am trying to identify how cells become organized and orientate themselves during the first stages of pancreas growth. If pancreatic cells are unable to polarize, or regulate their polarity, (for example, if they no longer have a defined ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ membrane), their maturation into specialized cells (such as the insulin producing Beta-cells) is negatively affected.
By understanding how the pancreas develops ‘normally’ during embryogenesis, it is hoped that, in turn, we will be able to understand which processes go awry in diseases of the pancreas, such as diabetes. Moreover, this understanding may help to develop more effective drugs and therapies to cure or alleviate pancreatic disease, such as the differentiation of stem cells towards functional Beta-cells as a therapy for diabetes.