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Dr Helen Weavers


I began my research career as a Research Assistant and later Wellcome Trust-funded PhD student with Professor Helen Skaer (University of Cambridge) studying renal development using Drosophila as a powerful, genetically tractable in vivo model. We found that fruitflies possess podocyte-like cells called ‘nephrocytes’, which share striking molecular, structural and functional parallels with their mammalian counterparts (Weavers et al., 2009 Nature). I also found that inter-tissue crosstalk was essential for kidneys to develop with stereotypical 3-dimensional looped architecture (Weavers & Skaer, 2013 Dev Cell).

Building on my interest in tissue morphogenesis, I undertook a postdoc with Professors Paul Martin and Will Wood (University of Bristol) to dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying the wound inflammatory response. We have shown that Drosophila macrophages must be developmentally ‘primed’ to respond to wounds (Weavers et al., 2016 Cell), and in collaboration with mathematicians at Imperial, characterised the attractant signals responsible for immune cell recruitment (Weavers et al., 2016 Current Biology). More recently, we have developed a novel Drosophila model of immune cell extravasation (Thuma et al., 2018 JCB).

I have now setup my own group funded by a Sir Henry Dale Research Fellowship (jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society) at the University of Bristol, leading an exciting interdisciplinary research program that combines in vivo imaging and genetics in Drosophila with human genetic epidemiology, to explore tissue resilience mechanisms in development and wound repair.

For more information see my lab website

   renal tip cell anchorage   Drosophila pupa  In vivo imaging injury-induced inflammation




School of Biochemistry

School of Biochemistry staff