Research Group of Professor Steve Wilson, University College London

Research Group of Professor Steve Wilson, University College London

Professor Steve Wilson is a member of the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology at University College London. Steve’s research group is working towards understanding the mechanisms that underlie patterning of the vertebrate forebrain, using the zebrafish as a model organism.

The Wilson group is working on several areas including forebrain development, laterality and asymmetry in the CNS and eye development. The general organization of the forebrain is conserved in all vertebrates but the brain of each species is made unique by the way in which the different sub-domains within the CNS are elaborated as they form the structures that make up the adult brain. Human conscious thoughts, emotions and many of our memories reside within the forebrain and it is this region of that confers many uniquely human attributes.

Steve is a graduate of the University of Leicester and gained his PhD under the supervision of Professor Nigel Holder at King’s College London. He spent four years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan with Professor Stephen Easter before returning to set up his lab at the Developmental Biology Research Centre in the Randall Institute of King’s College London. He has been a Principal Investigator at UCL since 1998, when, together with Nigel Holder, he first established zebrafish research at the University. Today there is a large and vibrant group of scientists working with zebrafish and a well stocked aquarium of about 1800 tanks to supply them with their requirements.

Steve’s group has been using Openlab for imaging experiments since 1999 and added Volocity to their facilities in 2001. The group uses Openlab connected to a Zeiss microscope with an automated, precisely positionable stage. This allows contemporaneous time-lapse imaging of events in several zebrafish embryos over long periods (up to 15hrs). Experiments that involve laser ablation of GFP labeled cells are also performed. The cells to be ablated are selected and the precise XY positions that the stage must move to are stored in Openlab, so that when the laser ablation begins, the selected cells are accurately targeted. Volocity is used by the group to create 3 and 4 dimensional renderings of stacks of data gathered using the Leica confocal microscopes in the department. Volocity is helpful as it allows the quick and effective interpretation of confocal data in an intuitive 3 dimensional space. Furthermore, it is used for tracking and describing quantitatively the migration of neurons in the CNS and the movements of nuclei in neuroepithelial progenitor cells.

Visit the Wilson group home page for detailed information about the research carried out, as well as links to other zebrafish groups at UCL, movies, publications and even photos of the group enjoying their Christmas festivities!

In July 2003 Steve and colleagues made the front cover of Neuron with a Volocity rendered image of the zebrafish epithalamus.

Local Tissue Interactions across the Dorsal Midline of the Forebrain Establish CNS Laterality
Miguel Concha, Claire Russell, Jennifer Regan, Marcel Tawk, Samuel Sidi, Darren Gilmour, Marika Kapsimali, Lauro Sumoy, Kim Goldstone, Enrique Amaya, David Kimelman, Teresa Nicolson, Stefan Gründer, Miranda Gomperts, Jonathan Clarke and Stephen Wilson
Neuron 39: 423-438 July 2003