Laetitia Chauve Laetitia.chauve@babraham.ac.uk

Laetitia.chauve@babraham.ac.uk

Position

Research Associate

Affiliation

Babraham Institute and Lucy Cavendish College

Keywords

Gene-environment Interactions, Stress Response, Heat Shock Proteins, C. elegans, Rpigenetics, Ageing

I am a Research Associate in the Casanueva lab at the Babraham Institute and I am using the nematode C. elegans as a model organism.

I am interested in understanding inter-individual variability in stress response gene expression and itsconsequences on physiology in C. elegans. Lifespan of individuals is highly variable across species, including C. elegans. However, this variation cannot be attributed to genetic differences in C. elegans, as they are clones. I have been focusing on stress response gene expression, as they are known to play a role in longevity. To study gene expression at the single-worm level, I have developed a high-throughput method to accurately quantify biological variability in the expression of hundreds of genes in single worms. To investigate the consequences of such variability in vivo, I have been using fluorescent reporters. With these methods, I have identified stress response genes that are highly variable between worms, even in the absence of stress, and found that this variability has consequences on metabolism.

Interactions between genes and the environment have always fascinated me. I studied biology at the University Pierre and Marie Curie and Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. During my master, I discovered C. elegans as a model organism, while studying stress responses and molecular chaperones in the Morimoto lab at Northwestern University in Chicago. I did my second year of master in the Bessereau lab at Ecole Normale Superieure, where I used powerful genome-engineering tools in C. elegans. One aspect that has always intrigued me regarding stress responses, is their role in the absence of “apparent” stress, for instance during development and ageing. Therefore, during my PhD, I returned to the Morimoto lab in Chicago to study the role of the stress transcription factor Heat Shock Factor 1 during development. I then moved to Cambridge to study inter-individual variability in stress response gene expression during ageing.

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About

This website

This website showcases the profiles of early career cis and trans women researchers from the University of Cambridge, UK, and affiliated institutions. It originated as part of StepWide, a leadership programme that aims to support the next generation of female researchers.

We hope that by making the expertise and stories of early career women researchers more visible (and searchable!), will highlight how much they contribute to the research that is done in the University and affiliated institutions.

Who is it for

This website is designed for a wide audience, be it other researchers looking for particular expertise for a collaboration; the media looking for experts; those that are simply curious about what type of research is done in Cambridge, or those trying to get a clearer idea of what a ‘typical’ woman researcher in this years old institution does (there is no ‘typical’!).

The StepWide programme

StepWide was designed by 3 postdocs at Cambridge (see below for more on Marta, Laura and Cemre). It aims to support female postdoctoral researchers at the University of Cambridge, UK, from any discipline, who feel that taking a step into leadership is not for them. The programme is designed to suit both early and more senior postdocs, providing them with the skills to challenge the current ideas of what a leader is, learn how to raise their public profiles, as well as a close and supportive network of peer-to-peer female postdocs.

StepWide ran for the first time in 2019/2021. We will post updates here when applications open for its next run.

Founders

Laura, Marta and Cemre (left to right on the photo) met at The Postdocs of Cambridge (PdOC) Society, at the University of Cambridge, UK. When the Researcher Development (RD) Pitch Competition was announced in late 2018, they felt this provided the ideal opportunity to work together to develop a leadership programme for women postdocs. They saw a gap in the current leadership RD provision, with a lack of opportunities that challenge current leadership views. Their proposal was successful and obtained funding for a one year pilot, giving rise to the StepWide programme.

Laura Fachal is a Senior Staff Scientist at Wellcome Sanger Institute. She earned her BS in Veterinary, MSc in Biotechnology and PhD from University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. She completed her postdoc at the Centre for Cancer Genetic Epidemiology, University of Cambridge. She is also a Research Associate at Lucy Cavendish College.

Marta Costa is a Senior Research Associate at the Department of Zoology. She did her undergrad in Biology in Lisbon, Portugal, followed by an MSc in Neuroscience at UCL in London. She then moved to Cambridge for her PhD, followed by a postdoc. She is also a Research Associate at Lucy Cavendish College.

Cemre Ustunkaya was a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. She earned her BSc in Biological Science, followed by an MSc in Archaeometry at Middle East Technical University, Turkey. She later moved to Australia for her PhD in Archaeology at The University of Queensland. She is also a postdoc affiliate at Newnham College.

Funding

Thanks and funding

StepWide was funded by the Researcher Development Pitch Competition which included support from the Researcher Development Programme, The Postdocs of Cambridge (PdOC) Society, the Postdoc Academy, the Postdoc Chairs’ Network and the Careers Service at the University of Cambridge. We are very thankful for their support. We would also like to thank Alba Gómez for her expert support with the first version of the website, and to Arian Jamasb for redesigning and implementing the newest version of this website. Finally, we thank Natacha Wilson and Rebecca Nestor for the advice and support they provided for the development of the workshops.

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