Miguel-Aliaga LabGut Signalling and Metabolism


  • Irene Miguel-Aliaga

    The Boss

    Irene is Professor at Imperial College London and MRC Investigator at the MRC LMS, London (UK). She received her DPhil in Genetics from the University of Oxford (UK), working with Kay E. Davies, and explored how neurons acquire their identity during postdoctoral work with Stefan Thor at Harvard (USA), Linkoping University (Sweden) and then Alex Gould at NIMR (now Crick Institute, UK). She established her own lab at the University of Cambridge in 2008 thanks to a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship. She then moved to London to become a Programme Leader at the MRC LMS, Imperial College London at the end of 2012. She was elected to the EMBO YIP programme in 2012, to EMBO in 2017, and to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2019. She is the recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant and, previously, an ERC Starting Grant.

  • Tomotsune Ameku


    Tomo studied Biotechnology and Molecular Biology at Okinawa National College of Technology in Japan. After graduation, he secured a JSPS Fellowship to pursue his PhD work in Ryusuke Niwa's lab. In the Niwa lab, he used Drosophila to explore how ovarian stem cells respond to extrinsic signals and systemic hormones. After graduating in 2018, he joined the lab as a JSPS Overseas Fellow to investigate intestinal sex differences using mouse models.

  • Chris Amourda

    POSTDOC (joint with Santiago Vernia)

    Chris studied Biology at the University of Brest in France and obtained a master degree from the University of Paris-Diderot. He then joined the EMBL in Heidelberg for his PhD, during which time he investigated the regulation of membrane turnover during embryonic development in Drosophila. He then moved to Singapore where he worked with Timothy Saunders. As the first member of the lab, Chris helped establish the Saunders lab and explored a broad range of questions relating to embryonic development. In collaboration with Santiago Vernia's lab, Chris is now exploring the nature and significance of sex differences in mice and flies.

  • Hannah Beckwith

    Chain Florey PhD student

    Hannah is a Renal Registrar/Kidney Doctor. Following a BSc in Pharmacology, where she undertook a 12-week research project with Rob Hoeben in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Leiden University, Hannah completed her medical training at the University of Edinburgh. She began life in London as an Academic Foundation trainee at QMUL and has since moved west, working with Matthew Pickering and Terence Cook at the Centre for Complement and Inflammation, Imperial College as part of an Academic Clinical Fellowship. In our lab, she will be looking at the roles and regulation of epithelial transporters in mice.

  • Laura Blackie


    Laura studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge specialising in cell and developmental biology. After working for a year as a research assistant at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, she moved to London to complete her PhD at the Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at UCL in the lab of Franck Pichaud. During her time at UCL, she studied the mechanisms of morphogenesis of the fly eye. Laura is interested in the 3D arrangement of organs and how this impacts organ communication and function. In the lab, she is developing methods to image the fly gut in 3D and investigating the mechanisms that determine gut looping.

  • Álvaro Castaño

    Imperial College President's PhD Scholar

    Álvaro studied Biotechnology at the Francisco de Vitoria University (UFV) in Spain. For his Bachelor’s project, he joined the lab of Vassilis Pachnis at The Francis Crick Institute, where he helped develop a viral-based labelling method for the molecular profiling of enteric nervous system cell lineages. He then continued working in the same lab as a Laboratory Research Scientist to explore the impact of environmental cues such as diet and microbiota on the functional organisation of the enteric nervous system. He joined the lab as a PhD student, exploring the plasticity of our ‘second brain’ during reproduction in collaboration with Vassilis's lab.


  • Pedro Gaspar

    Senior research assistant

    Pedro studied Biology at the University of Lisbon and began his research experience as an undergraduate in Florence Janody's lab at the Gulbenkian Institute of Science, where he attained a master’s degree in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology investigating links between the cytoskeleton and organ growth. He then joined Nic Tapon’s lab at the London Research Institute (now Crick) to pursue a PhD and continue research on cytoskeletal regulation of cell proliferation. After his PhD, Pedro joined Alistair McGregor’s lab at Oxford Brookes University to continue to explore variation in organ size from an evolutionary perspective. In the lab, Pedro supports our Drosophila work and develops new methods for its genetic and developmental analysis.

  • Dafni Hadjieconomou


    Dafni studied Molecular Biology and Genetics in Greece and did a master's course in Clinical Neuroscience at University College London. She then joined Iris Salecker’s lab at the National Institute of Medical Research in London for her PhD. During her time at NIMR, Dafni became acquainted with the nervous system of Drosophila and developed FlyBow to investigate the ways by which neurons within the fly visual system assemble into circuits. In the lab, she is exploring the functions of the fly’s "second brain" in regulating energy homeostasis.

  • Laura Martin Coll

    PhD student

    Laura studied Biochemistry at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). Her degree included a brief stint as an Erasmus student in René Medema’s lab in the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), where she investigated chromosome mis-segregation and DNA damage. Following a two-year MSc in Molecular Biomedicine at the Copenhagen University (KU), Laura joined Anne Grapin-Botton’s lab to investigate the cellular dynamics of mouse embryonic pancreatic expansion and differentiation during development. After a few months volunteering in Southeast Asia, Laura will continue to pursue her interests in plasticity and commitment in our lab, hoping to unravel the mysteries behind the sex differences and reproductive plasticity of the fly intestine.

  • Alexandra Milona


    Alexandra did her BSc at King's College London, followed by a Master's in Human Reproductive Biology at Imperial College London. Her first stab at metabolic sciences was with Malcolm Parker, followed by a PhD with Catherine Williamson and a postdoc in Saskia van Mil's lab at UMC Utrecht in the Netherlands. Alex is capitalising on her long-standing interest in organ plasticity by using mouse models to investigate how organs such as the intestine adapt to physiological stresses.

  • Alessandro Mineo

    Postdoc (EMBO Long-Term Fellow)

    Ale studied Molecular Biology at the University of Palermo in Italy. For his final year project, he visited the lab of Emili Salo at the University of Barcelona to learn about regeneration in the flatworm planarians. For his Master’s Degree, he moved to the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona where he worked on the zebrafish lateral line in the lab of Hernán Lopez-Schier. Ale then pursued a PhD in the lab of Jordi Casanova at the Institute for Biomedical Research of Barcelona, where he switched to Drosophila and explored the role of the eggshell in the specification of the embryonic patterning. In the lab, he is currently interested in exploring organ remodelling during reproduction.

  • Mary O'Sullivan


    Mary has had a variety of jobs since leaving school. She has worked in the food industry, managing a catering department, and has also worked in retail. She became our fly technician in 2015, and has been keeping our flies happy since.
  • Emily Strachan

    PhD student (joint with Susumu Hirabayashi)

    Emily studied Biochemistry at Imperial College London. During her degree, she did a 12-month sandwich placement at the Francis Crick Institute. Supervised by Svend Kjaer and Phil Walker, she investigated the structure of the 14-3-3:RhoE complex, as well as setting up crystal trials and undertaking biophysical methods such as SEC-MALLS (protein expression, purification and crystallisation). Her PhD project explores internal and environmental modulators of intestinal tumours in flies.


  • Chris Studd

    Lab manager

    Chris completed his BSc at the University of Kent where he was introduced to the wonderful world of Drosophila by Jim Bloor whilst on a Wellcome Trust summer studentship, investigating the role of integrin-laminin interactions in congenital muscular dystrophy. Having spent some time in retail management after graduating, he decided he needed to get back to doing something he enjoyed, using annual leave to volunteer as a technician at the Helen Rollason cancer lab with Christina Greenwood before joining the lab soon after its move to Imperial College/MRC LMS. Chris does all sorts of things in the lab that keep us functional and productive.

  • Océane Tournière


    Océane studied Genetics and Developmental Biology at the University of Nice, France. She became acquainted with Drosophila and behavioural genetics during her final year project in Mike Ritchie's lab at the University of St Andrews. During her Master's degree at the University Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, she studied regeneration in Platynereis dumerilii in the lab of Guillaume Balavoine. She then moved to Bergen, Norway to pursue a PhD in the lab of Fabian Rentzsch at the Sars Centre, investigating the specification and differentiation of neural cells in the cnidarian Nematostella vectensisIn our lab, she is currently exploring sex and reproductive differences in the Drosophila enteric nervous system.