Cathy Merry studied Biochemistry at the University of Manchester during which time she spent a year working for Amgen Inc. in California where she studied the glycosylation of EPO.
She then started her PhD studies, working with Prof. John Gallagher at the Paterson Institute, Manchester. During her PhD, she developed a novel method for the sequence analysis of heparan sulphate and an ongoing passion for glycobiology.
After completing her PhD studies, she stayed with John’s group and, in collaboration with Prof. Austin Smith and Dr Val Wilson, learnt how to grow and study embryonic stem (ES) cells. In 2006 she moved to Materials Science to take up a lectureship and establish an independent research group. After a productive and fun sabbatical spent working with Prof. Lena Kjellén at Uppsala University (2014-2015) Cathy returned to the UK to join the STEM (Stem Cells, Tissue Engineering and Modelling) Centre at the University of Nottingham.
Dr Kate Meade graduated from the Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester with a BSc in Biology.
After working as a research technician as part of the UK Centre for Tissue Engineering, Kate completed a PhD with Dr Merry at the School of Materials. Her work focused on developing novel heparin/heparan sulphate functionalised electrospun scaffolds for embryonic stem cell culture and differentiation.
Kate carried out research associated with Dr Merry in collaboration with Dr Alberto Saiani, developing novel self-assembling peptide scaffolds for stem cell culture and helping prepare this technology for patenting. Kate is now working on an EPSRC funded project, inspired by her PhD, using microfluidics and matrix adhesion to fractionate stem cell populations.
Natalie obtained a BSC(Hons) in Human Biology at The University of Birmingham in 2007. She then joined Pharmaceutical Profiles as a Clinical Scientist before returning to The University of Birmingham to complete an MRes in Mechanistic Molecular Toxicology.
As part of her Masters project, Natalie completed a six month research project in industry which focussed on differentiation of human adult stem cells.
Natalie went on to spend a year and a half working in the pharmaceutical industry before beginning a PhD at The University of Manchester which focuses on the role of E-cadherin in stem cells and tumourigenesis.
Sadia Haq completed her MEng (Hons) in Biomedical Materials Science at the University of Manchester in 2011, which incorporated an industrial placement at DePuy International in Leeds. Here she worked on developing testing methods for hip and knee implants.
Her final year project was in collaboration with the School of Medicine, where she was supervised by Dr. R. Akhtar, Dr. M. Sherratt and Dr. R. Watson and focused on the nanomechanical characterisation of facial skin.
From September 2011, Sadia started a PhD under the supervision of Dr C. Merry and Prof. N. Tirelli, which is focused on defining the cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) biology of the vascular mesenchymal progenitor cell (MPC) niche, and on exploiting the Universities’ specialist knowledge of the cell surface-matrix interface to develop effective new MPC-based cardiovascular therapies.
Beth completed her BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia, before undertaking an MSc in Stem Cell Technology at the University of Nottingham.
Following on from this, Beth started her PhD in September 2012. She is on the joint PhD programme, splitting her time between the University of Manchester, with supervisors Dr. C. Merry and Prof. T. Day, and the Singapore A*STAR Research Institute, under the supervision of Prof. V. Nurcombe and Prof. S. Cool.
Her project will focus on combining biomaterials and glycosaminoglycans to create a synthetic ECM-mimetic in order to promote the efficient formation of cartilage-like tissue from mesenchymal stem cells.
Samantha completed her BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology and Physiology with Industrial Experience at the University Of Manchester in 2011. For her industrial placement, Samantha spent 12 months at AstraZeneca, Alderley Park. During this time, her work focused on the validation of an in vivo model for the cardiac safety evaluation of drug candidates in pre-clinical development.
Following this, Samantha decided to continue her studies in Manchester and joined the British Heart Foundation 4-year PhD programme in 2011. Under the supervision of Dr Catherine Merry and Prof. Ann Canfield, her interdisciplinary PhD project aims to understand the role of glycosaminoglycans in fine-tuning the signalling pathways that are active in vascular calcification, a disease where the aberrant osteogenic differentiation of vascular smooth muscle cells leads to the deposition of bone in blood vessels.
Dr Sarah Ritson graduated from UMIST with a BSc(Hons) in Biochemistry in 2001. During a 4 year period working as a Biomedical Scientist at Hope Hospital in Salford she studied Interleukin-8 expression in stroke patients as part of an MSc in Biomedical Science, obtained from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006.
Following this, Sarah joined Dr Chris Ward's research group at the Univeristy of Manchester as a Research Assistant, receiving her PhD for the study of the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin in mouse ES cells in 2010.
Sarah currently works for Dr Chris Ward as a PDRA on an interdisciplinary EPSRC-funded project researching stem cell fractionation using interactions with artificial matrices. Sarah's contribution to the project includes the large-scale culture of mouse and human ES cells, assessment of the suitability of various materials for ES cell fractionation, and ES cell characterisation following fractionation.
Dr. Lisa Mohamet obtained a first class honours undergraduate degree in Applied Biology from the University of the West of England (Bristol) in 2002. During this time, she spent a year working at The University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA investigating the role of prolactin in breast cancer under the supervision of Prof Ben-Jonathan.
She obtained her PhD in Reproductive Biology at The University of Manchester in 2006, specialising on the role of LIF during embryo formation in the mouse and was subsequently employed by Dr Chris Ward on a BBSRC Follow-on-Fund.
The work from this initial project was instrumental in securing a three year funded project through the Technology Strategy Board in partnership with Lonza. The focus of her current research is cellular manufacturing of human ES cells in bioreactor culture.
Joe obtained a BSc (Hons) class I in Biological sciences with 1 year in industry at The University of Birmingham in 2011. For his industrial placement Joe spent 12 months at Lonza’s applied protein services department in Cambridge, UK.
His role at Lonza APS was focused on developing an in vitro-in silico microbial screening platform to help resolve protein aggregation and stability issues in therapeutic antibody expression.
From October 2011, Joe began a PhD within Dr Chris Ward’s lab at the University of Manchester focusing on the role of E-cadherin in embryonic stem cell pluripotency.
Dr Claire Johnson graduated from the University of Bristol in 2002 with a BSc(Hons) in Cellular Pathology and Microbiology.
Claire gained her PhD in 2006 after working with Dr Catherine Merry and Prof. John Gallagher at the University of Manchester, Paterson Institute. Her studies were centered on understanding the role of heparan sulphate (HS) proteoglycans in embryonic stem cell biology. Her first PDRA position was also completed in Prof. Gallaghers lab, and in summer 2008 she began a three year PDRA position in Dr Merry’s new group at Materials Science. The focus of her current project is to expand our knowledge of the role of HS in mES cells to the human embryonic stem cell niche, which has several features distinct from mouse. She is also involved in the day-to-day supervision of a range of undergraduate and postgraduate students, from the School of Materials and the wider University.
Claire has extensive experience in embryonic stem cell culture techniques, HS analytical techniques, flow cytometry, immunofluoresence and molecular biology
Claire is now Mum to Matthew and is taking a break from the lab
Rebecca Holley (Baldwin) is a post-doctoral research associate working on the design and incorporation of heparan sulphate oligosaccharides into peptide hydrogels for embryonic stem cell growth and differentiation. She has a degree in biological sciences from Warwick University before working for a year in the pharmaceutical industry. She obtained her PhD at the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, Manchester where she studied the role of sulfatases in the regulation of heparan sulphate 6-0-sulphation and also looked at the changes in heparan sulphate sulphation patterning during directed embryonic stem cell differentiation to mesodermal/blood lineages. She has recently spent 3 months working in the US at Dartmouth College under Prof. Nicholas Shworak.
She has extensive practical experience of heparan sulphate structural analyses, embryonic stem cells growth and differentiation, molecular biology and peptide hydrogels.
Becki recently worked on a joint MRC/BHF funded project with Profs Cay Kielty, Ann Canfield and Tony Whetton focussed on adult stem cell culture and proteomics. Becki has now joined the Stem Cell and Neurotherapies Laboratory, working with Dr Brian Bigger http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/brian.bigger/research
Donna qualified in Biomedical Material Science (MEng) at The University of Manchester in 2009. She then joined the NowNano Doctoral Training Centre (DTC); an interdisciplinary DTC with a focus on nanoscience.
As part of the DTC she undertook a 6 month short course to gain grounding in all aspects of nanoscience before undertaking her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Catherine Merry, Dr. Ian Kinloch and Dr. Chris Ward.
Her project aims to take advantage of the nanoscale dimensions of carbon nanotubes for the delivery of nucleic acids and oligosaccharides to embryonic stem cells, with a focus on delivering nucleic acid constructs for enzymes that control the cellular synthesis of heparan sulphate as well as immobilising and presenting oligosaccharides to direct embryonic stem cell behaviour.
After her PhD Donna spent a year working in the glycotherapeutics lab of Profs. Nurcombe and Cool at A*STAR in Singapore (http://www.imb.a-star.edu.sg/php/vnsc-biography.php) and has now returned to the UK to work as a Medical Writer.
Prior to joining the University of Manchester Alex gained a BSc in Biology from MMU, after graduating he worked as a science technician for Nelson and Colne College, Lancashire.
Alex then completed an MRes in Tissue Engineering for Regenerative medicine at the University of Manchester between 2009 and 2010. During this time he researched the production of TSG-6 by mouse embryonic stem cells during a 10 week project and the use of mouse ES cell models of Hurler and Sanfilippo syndromes in a 25 week project, both supervised by Dr. Merry.
Alex started a PhD supervised by Dr. Merry in September 2010, his main focus is the study of proteoglycan and glycosaminoglycan expression in stem cells.
After his PhD Alex spent a year working in the lab of Assit. Prof. Kamil Godula at UCSD (http://www-chem.ucsd.edu/faculty/profiles/godula_kamil.html) and has now moved to Singapore to join the group of Profs. Nurcombe and Cool (http://www.imb.a-star.edu.sg/php/vnsc-biography.php).
Marissa obtained a BSc in Cell Biology at the University of Manchester before tackling an interdisciplinary MRes in Tissue engineering for Regenerative Medicine, where she focused on type II collagen in tendon development.
Following this Marissa changed focus but continued her studies with an interdisciplinary PhD project under the supervision of Dr. C. Merry, Dr. J. Gough and Prof. S. Flitsch.
Her work involves close collaboration with synthetic chemists and biomaterial experts in order to understand stem cell behaviour in the context of sugars and lectin binding.
After completing her PhD, Marissa has joined Dr. Mark Skidmore’s group at Keele University (http://www.keele.ac.uk/lifesci/people/markskidmore/).
Daniel obtained a BSc. in Biomedical Sciences studying part-time (2006-2010) while working in the food microbiology department of Dechra laboratories services. Beginning in 2005 as a food microbiology technician Daniel was appointed head of department on completion of his degree.
Daniel left the company in 2011 to undertake an MSc. in Developmental Biology at the University of Manchester. During this time he undertook projects looking at the viability of an FGF signalling reporter in Xenopus and translation regulation of Drosophila germline stem cell differentiation in Dr E. Amaya’s and Dr H. Ashe’s labs respectively.
Daniel started a PhD co-supervised by Dr C. Merry and Prof T. Day in September 2012. His project aims to look at the role of TSG-6 in the stem cell niche focusing on the differentiation of bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells to cells of the cardiac lineage.
Dan left the group in 2013 to return to industry.
Emma graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in Biomedical Sciences. After working on the flu vaccine in Liverpool she moved to Manchester University to join the faculty of Life Sciences.
She spent 6 years with Professor Charles Streuli investigating how cell matrix interactions control mammary gland differentiation and development.
Emma then joined Professor Tim Hardingham’s lab in the Centre for Tissue Engineering where she worked on the differentiation of chondrocytes from stem cells.
After a stint in industry working in the personalised medicine sector Emma joined the Merry Group culturing human stem cells in self assembling peptide scaffolds, optimising the hydrogel technology for various stem cell applications. Since November 2014, Emma has returned to the personalised medicine sector.
Dr Alison Harvey graduated from The University of Manchester in 2005 with an MEng in biomedical material science.
In 2010 Alison completed a PhD working with Professor Rein Ulijn at the School of Materials in Manchester University. Her PhD work involved developing fluorescent sensor particles for the detection and capture of proteases. Alison then went on to spend a year working as a PDRA in Dr Ardeshir Bayat’s research group in the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre developing tailored surface topographies for breast implants with the aim of reducing capsular contracture.
Alison is currently working as a PDRA with Dr Catherine Merry on a project with Drs Julie Gough and Steve Eichhorn and in collaboration with Glycomar. Her current work is involved in producing 3D hydrogel/cellulose nanowhisker composites in which the nanowhiskers are aligned and investigating the effects of these materials on stem cell behaviour with the aim of inducing differentiation into skeletal muscle cells.
After achieving a 2(i) in Molecular Cell Biology from the University of York in 2008 Kate came to the University of Manchester to pursue an MRes in Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Medicine.
As part of her MRes she completed a 10 week research project in Dr Cathy Merry’s lab focusing on the role of 2-O-sulphated heparan sulphate in neural differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells and a 25 week research project in Dr Chris Ward’s lab investigating the role of cell surface molecules in mouse embryonic stem cell self renewal.
After completing her MRes in September 2009 she began her PhD (supervised by both Cathy and Chris) focusing on the role of the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin in embryonic stem cell self-renewal.
Kathryn Aviss did her BSc(hons) in Human Biology at the University of Huddersfield, followed by an MRes in Biosciences from the University of Leeds.
For her PhD, at the University of Manchester, she now works with electrospun PLGA to form a totally synthetic scaffold for skeletal muscle regeneration.
She specialises in creating highly aligned fibrous meshes as this creates a scaffold with the correct topography to provide contact guidance for bipolar, elongated myoblast growth and differentiation.
Angharad has now moved to Cardiff University to work with Dr Ann Ager in the newly-formed Institute for Infection and Immunity, based at the University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park. Her new project is focussed on the role of the adhesion molecule CD62L in the migration, infiltration and cytotoxicity of T cells in health and disease.
Francesca Soncin graduated in 2004 at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Turin (Italy), in the 5-year degree programme Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology, during which time she spent 6 months at Imperial College, London, for a her final project on engineering of biosensors based on cytochrome P450.
She then moved to Manchester for an MRes in Biological Sciences at the Faculty of Life Science, University of Manchester (UK), followed by a 3-year PhD programme at the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences within the same university. Her PhD project was a collaboration between Dr Chris Ward and Dr Cathy Merry and concerned the role of E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell pluripotency.
Francesca has recently arrived at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (La Jolla, USA) to continue her academic training in a post-doctoral programme with Prof. Freeze involving the use of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to investigate the biology of Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation.
Kate graduated from the University of Manchester with an MEng (Hons) in Biomedical Material Science, incorporating an industrial placement at Johnson and Johnson Wound Management, now Systagenix.
She is currently working towards a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Ulijn (University of Strathclyde) and Dr. Merry into enzyme triggered self-assembled peptide hydrogels for the culture of embryonic stem cells.