School of Biosciences
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Ramiro Alberio

Associate Professor in Developmental Epigenetics, Faculty of Science

Contact

  • workRoom Room B234 South Lab
    Sutton Bonington Campus
    Sutton Bonington
    Leicestershire
    LE12 5RD
    UK
  • work0115 951 6304
  • fax0115 951 6099

Biography

I obtained my undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine from the University of La Plata, Argentina in 1996 and this was followed by a PhD (Suma Cum Laude) from the University of Munich, Germany in 2001. My first postdoctoral training was done under supervision of Prof. Keith Campbell (2001-2003) and in 2002 I obtained a Marie Curie Fellowship (2002-2004). In 2005 I was awarded an RCUK Fellowship (2005-2010). In 2010 I took up a position as Lecturer and was later promoted (2015) to Associate Professor in Developmental Epigenetics at the Division of Animal Sciences, School of Biosciences, UoN.

Vacancies: We are currently looking for a motivated postdoctotal fellow to work on a BBSRC (3 years) funded project to study gastrulation in mammals. Please contact me if you are interested in the position.

Teaching Summary

Biotechnology in Animal Physiology (D235z1; Module convenor)

Advanced Developmental Biology (C13595)

Regulation and Organisation in Animals (D212Z6)

Practical Animal Physiology (D223z6)

M.Med Sci in Assisted Reproductive Technology (A117)

Research Summary

Our laboratory investigates the developmental mechanisms of early mammalian embryos. Our aim is to gain understanding of the molecular regulation of cell decisions during the onset of gastrulation.… read more

Selected Publications

Current Research

Our laboratory investigates the developmental mechanisms of early mammalian embryos. Our aim is to gain understanding of the molecular regulation of cell decisions during the onset of gastrulation. This is the period when the key lineages that make the adult organism are first set in the fetus. Understanding how these mechanisms are controlled in vivo can help us develop improved technologies for the generation of useful cell types in vitro and with potential uses in regenerative medicine .

Our lab is embedded within CeLAB (https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/large-animal-biotechnology/), a unique UK resource dedicated to research in large animal biotechnology.

The current main research areas in the lab include:

  • Germ cell development in mammals
  • Mechanisms of gastrulation in mammals

Germ cell development in mammals

Germ cells are responsible for passing the genetic information of the parents onto the next generation. The developmental program of these cells involves unique mechanisms that contribute to eliminate epimutations that may otherwise be passed on to the next generation. Much of the knowledge of how germ cells are first segregated from the pluripotent cells of the embryo, as well as how they are reprogrammed before becoming fully competent for fertilization is performed in mice, a conventional model organism. The specification of germ cells occurs very early during mouse development, which has led to speculations as to whether this mechanism has evolved to safeguard the correct establishment of the germline in rapidly developing species. The mechanism of germ cell specification has not been studied in detail in other species, and our laboratory is interested in elucidating these mechanisms in other mammals that share important developmental features. Larger mammals (humans, pigs, sheep and cows) have a much slower development, suggesting that the mechanisms for the establishment of different cell lineages, including the germline, may be under different control. An important difference between the embryos of mice and other mammalian species, is that mouse embryos develop as a conical structure, which implies that cellular movements are very characteristic for this type of embryo. Other mammals develop as a flat embryonic disc, which means that the cellular movements are completely different to rodents. There is some evidence indicating that cow and pigs embryos develop germ cells in the posterior part of the embryo, however, these cells arise late in development. In contrast to mice, these cells remain pluripotent and uncommitted until much later developmental stages. We are currently investigating the mechanisms that characterize the development of germ cells in embryos from large mammals such as pigs. Given that many aspects of early pig embryo development are similar to human embryos, we use these embryos to uncover fundamental mechanisms of germ line development with relevance to human. The findings from our in vivo characterization are validated with functional experiments using human ESC/iPS and pig EpiSC/iPS. We expect that this work will impact in our ability to develop efficient methods for generating human gametes in the laboratory.

Mechanisms of gastrulation in mammals

During the first three weeks of development the human fetus becomes almost completely formed. Hitherto, most of our understanding of development is inferred from mouse studies, because human embryos cannot be studied after they implant around of day 9 after fertilization. The pig has recently emerged as a valuable model species that can inform on fundamental mechanisms of human development, is easily accessible and is important in biomedical research. Given that fundamental questions about cell lineage decisions during early gastrulation, also known as the black box of development, remain unanswered, and are critically important for understanding the basis of early embryo mortality and birth defects we have focussed our efforts in gaining new understanding of pig developmental biology. Our laboratory has made fundamental discoveries showing that pig embryos can be used to broaden the knowledge of human development (Nature 416: 426-30, 2017; BioRxiv doi.org/10.1101.347823), and represent an accessible and ethically acceptable source of embryos for research. Furthermore, given that the pig is an excellent model for biomedical research, increasing our knowledge of its developmental biology will have an impact in human regenerative medicine and our understanding of human genetic diseases.

Funding

BBSRC, Medical Research Council, European Union, Wellcome Trust and Zoetis.

Current Lab Members:

Dr. Sarah Withey (Research Fellow)

Dr. Priscila Ramos-Ibeas (Research Fellow)

Doris Klisch (Lab Manager)

Haitham Alhilfi (PhD student)

Judith Gomez-Martinez (PhD student)

Helen Anderton (PhD student)

Qifan Zhu (PhD Student)

Liam Wood (MRes student)

Former Members:

Sebastian Lazar, MPhil (2008)

Xiaoni Sun, MRes (2010)

Alejandro Contreras, PhD (2011)

Somsin Petyim, PhD (2013)

Griselda Valdez Magana, PhD (2014)

Sergio German, PhD (2015)

Haixin Zhang, PhD (2016)

Sidar Bereketoglu, PhD (2016)

Choulia Mola, PhD (2017)

Fabio Amaral, PhD (2017)

Darren Crowley, PhD (2018)

Future Research

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School of Biosciences

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Nr Loughborough
LE12 5RD, UK

For all enquiries please visit:
www.nottingham.ac.uk/enquire

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