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Rocio Sancho
Group Leader

Rocio is a Lecturer and Group Leader at the Centre for Gene Therapy and Regenerative Medicine (CGTRM) at King’s College London. Rocio Sancho obtained her PhD in immunology at the University of Cordoba (Spain). She completed her postdoctoral research in the Mammalian Genetics lab at the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute where she specialised in studying intestinal tissue stem cells and their function in homeostasis and cancer. As a Senior Scientist in the Adult Stem Cell lab at the Francis Crick Institute she turned her interests in mammalian cell differentiation to the study of cell fate decisions in adult pancreatic progenitors and began to explore their potential to treat diabetes.

Mario completed his undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and a master’s degree in Healthcare biology at the University of Padua – Italy, before obtaining his PhD (also at the University of Padua) with a project on skeletal muscle regeneration and repair, with a focus on diaphragm and muscle tissue engineering. During his PhD he did a mandatory placement in London, at the UCL Institute of Child Health. He returned to London for a Postdoc on cartilage regenerative medicine at QMUL, before joining the Sancho Lab at the KCL Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, focusing on a factor that regulates beta cell fate determination (NGN3) while also collaborating on a project on the molecular mechanisms underlying a mutation found in Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY).

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Mario Alvarez-Fallas
Sergio Pedraza-Arevalo

Sergio completed his BSc in Biology (2014), and Master’s in Translational Biomedical Research, both from the University of Córdoba, Spain, before undertaking a Research Initiation Fellowship in the Department of Cell Biology, Physiology, and Immunology, where he developed his interest in cancer and cell biology. In 2020, Sergio obtained his PhD in Biomedicine, focused on finding new biomarkers and therapeutic targets for endocrine-related tumours, with special interest in the somatostatin axis and splicing machinery. During his PhD, he did three short-term stays at QMUL in London, Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, and Université Livre de Bruxelles. During those stays, he developed his skills and increased his curiosity in endocrinology and development. He has recently joined Sancho Lab as PostDoc, to study the importance of the environment during the differentiation of beta cells.

Ana Maria obtained her MSci in Biochemistry (with Immunology) from University of Aberdeen with a year in industry at GlaxoSmithKline, Stevenage, UK. During her degree, she participated in the IGEM competition 2014, developing an E. coli-based system to detect Trypanosoma parasite infections for people developing African Sleeping Sickness. These projects nurtured her love for science and led her to embark on the Wellcome Trust ‘Cell Therapies and Regenerative Medicine’ PhD Programme in 2016. In 2017, she started her PhD project, working on modelling Monogenic Diabetes of the young 3 (MODY3) using organoids derived from patient induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. By studying this specific MODY3 mutation, she aims to unravel the mechanism of the mutation and the heterogeneity in clinical phenotypes. 

Ana Maria Cujba
3rd Year PhD Student
Theoni Demcollari
PhD Student

Theoni obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of East Anglia, before receiving her Master’s degree in Stem Cell Technology at the University of Nottingham. She then joined the biomedical research team at the Griffin Institute for two years before moving to the Centre of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London, where she worked in the field of liver regeneration and stem cells. She joined the Sancho lab in 2017, when she embarked on the IRTG (International Research Training Group) trans-campus PhD program, during which she would carry out her research at both KCL and TU Dresden. Her project focuses on identifying novel regulators of Pdx1, a master regulator of pancreas and β-cell development, and delineating the respective molecular regulatory pathways in stem cells, both adult and induced pluripotent. The project will provide insightful information on how to properly control Pdx1 levels, which will subsequently enable us to improve the efficiency of β-cell generation and achieve mature functional β-cells.

Chris developed an interest in stem cell biology while studying towards his BSc Human Biosciences degree at Northumbria University, graduating in 2017. During his degree he undertook a summer studentship at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health modelling Bardet-Biedl Syndrome using iPSCs, and a placement at the Department of Haematology, Cambridge, investigating iPSC reprogramming. Upon joining MRC DTP program at King’s, he spent the first year rotating across several labs to experience different aspects of stem cell research prior to starting his PhD project in the Sancho Lab. His project aims to elucidate the reprogramming network through which ductal cells give rise to insulin-producing beta cells, combining both wet lab techniques and computational modelling to better understand cell fate changes.

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Christopher Lambert 
PhD Student
Teodora Manea
PhD Student

Thea graduated with a BSc Biochemistry degree from the University of York in 2017. During her degree, she completed an industrial placement at the Earlham Institute, investigating the role of microbiota on inflammatory bowel disease. After undertaking her final year undergraduate project on mesenchymal stromal cell fate decisions, Thea embarked on a 4-year PhD at KCL's Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, starting with a 1-year MRes during which she rotated between three different labs before joining the Sancho Lab for the rest of her PhD. Her project focuses on the interaction between proendocrine factor Ngn3  and deubiquitinase Usp7, and the effect that disrupting this interaction has on Ngn3 stability and β-cell differentiation.

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