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Alexandra R. Willis, MSc

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Alex Willis studied Biochemistry and Genetics at Nottingham University in the UK. Following an undergraduate project on the CRISPR/Cas9 system, Alex became interested in microbiology and was awarded MRC funding for an MRes/PhD programme in Bacterial Pathogenesis at the Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection, Imperial College London.

During her MRes, Alex worked in the lab of Serge Mostowy and learnt techniques to study in vivo the cell biology of infection using zebrafish. In collaboration with Liz Sockett at Nottingham University, Alex used the Shigella-zebrafish infection model to study predatory bacteria as a living therapeutic for antibiotic-resistant infection. At present, Alex is examining the role of the host cell division machinery in haematopoietic stem cell biology.

  • Real Time Observation of Neutrophil White Blood Cell Recruitment to Bacterial Infection In Vivo

    The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is an emerging vertebrate model organism to study infection. The transparent larva comprises a fully functional innate immune system and enables live imaging of fluorescent immune cells in transgenic animals. Zebrafish infection models have been developed for both the human bacterial pathogen Shigella flexneri and the natural fish bacterial pathogen Mycobacterium marinum. Importantly, whilst S. flexneri causes acute infection and is typically used as an inflammatory paradigm, M. marinum causes a chronic disease similar to tuberculosis in humans. Here, we use real time fluorescence microscopy to image transgenic zebrafish larvae with neutrophils (granulocyte white blood cells) expressing the green fluorescent protein eGFP.
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