Who we are
Kaska Koltowska, PI
I am a developmental biologist at heart.
I have been fascinated by the processes that organise cells into functional tissues and organs since I completed my PhD at the National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London. Under Elke Ober’s supervision, I have uncovered the limitless possibilities of zebrafish model organism. During that time, I dissected how liver growth is controlled on the molecular level.
To continue my scientific career and to delve deeper into the phenomenon of tissue formation, I have moved to the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland, Brisbane. I joined Ben Hogan’s laboratory, where I had the freedom to start perusing the question of how venous endothelial cells know to become lymphatic endothelial cells and form vessels in zebrafish.
Currently, I am a Principal Investigator (PI), at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University, Sweden. Together with my team, I continue to study the puzzles to our understanding of tissue formation. By using zebrafish and lymphatic vessels formation, we are dissecting out how dynamic processes of cell migration and cell division are coordinated with molecular cues during tissue differentiation.
When I am not playing with the microscopes and thinking about lymphatics I try to escape to nature and go walking with my family. I also find playing golf and trying to get fit for triathlons super fun.
Renae Skoczylas, research engineer
I completed my BSc in 1998 majoring in Biological Sciences at Griffith University and began work as an Animal Technician in 1999. My work as an animal technician exposed me to some of the exciting research in Australia as well as some amazing techniques being used to better understand development and disease. I first became a research assistant at the Queensland Institute for Medical Research in 2006 with Hill’s lab in Immunology before I joined the Francois group at the Institute for Molecular Biosciences in 2012. This new and exciting field helped me to develop more interest in how blood vessels and lymphatics develop and to appreciate some of the tools used to assist this research. My main role in the Francois lab involved organizing and managing the murine models in the lab as well as those of collaborating labs (Hogan and Smith Laboratories). In early 2018, I relocated to Sweden to help set up a new and exciting lab with Kaska. I hope to get a new understanding and appreciation of zebrafish as a research model and the research on lymphatic specification.
Outside of the lab I enjoy cooking and relaxing with a bit of Netflix. I love to travel and plan to visit as many countries as possible whilst I am on this side of the world.
Beata Filipek Gorniok, researcher
I am intrigued by how successful marriage between molecular biology methods, latest microscopy achievements and the right choice of the model system can lead to solving previously unresolved puzzles. During my PhD studies at the Uppsala University, under the supervision of Lena Kjellén and Johan Ledin, I have learned about the advantages and disadvantages of the zebrafish model system. During the course of my studies, I have used zebrafish to investigate the role of proteoglycans in the early stages of fish development. Since 2016 I have been working at the Genome Engineering Zebrafish, SciLifeLab National Facility in Uppsala. My responsibilities in the facility include implementing CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis as a service for facility users in Sweden and abroad, research project consultancy, method development and facility management. Although I am new to the field of lymphatic vessel formation which makes my work for Kaska both exciting and challenging.
In my free time, I am trying to find a balance between family life, outdoor activities and my passions (travelling, modern dance and books).
Di Peng, research assistant
I started my research in a toxicology lab when I was a bachelor student in China. My project was to investigate the toxicity of endocrine disrupting chemicals using a zebrafish model, which rooted my interest in both experimental biology and zebrafish. Then my passion for research brought me to Sweden, I graduated from Medical Research program with Uppsala University in 2017. During my study, I have been working in different fields trying to find out which topic attracts me the most. I have done projects in toxicology and neuroscience, my master thesis was on acute kidney injury and immunology, and in the end, I stopped at vascular biology. Being involved in the lymphatic study is a perfect opportunity for me since it combines my interest for vascular biology, immunology and genetics.
Outside of Rudbeck building, I like to enjoy nature by hiking. I am also a huge animal lover, who can’t move her eyes if she saw a Siberian Husky.
Hannah Stanforth, Post doc
I first established a passion for Developmental Biology whilst studying at The University of Manchester (UK) as I was fascinated by the questions and answers of ‘how do you make an organism?’. During the course of my degree I undertook a placement year in Greg Elgar’s Lab at the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in London working on the role of non-coding elements in regulating gene expression. This introduced me to using zebrafish as a model organism and after discovering how powerful it is as a tool to probe development I have never looked back. It also sparked my interest in transcriptional regulation. Upon graduating in 2013 I returned to NIMR, now the Francis Crick Institute, to study for a PhD Developmental Neurobiology in David Wilkinson’s lab which I completed in 2018. Here, I identified and investigated genes regulated downstream of Eph‑ephrin signalling in the zebrafish hindbrain.Together, this has contributed to my increasing interest in how gene expression is regulated over the course of development.
Outside of the lab I like to explore the great outdoors whether it is finding new running trails, swimming in lakes & rivers, getting lost on my bike or feasting on camp-cooked dinners.