STEM Summer Research London Courses

You will earn 6 research credits over 6 weeks, conducting a faculty-supervised, hands-on, directed study research projects with results that will culminate in the preparation of a research paper. You will complete a minimum of 240 hours on research in and out of the laboratory.

Faculty mentors will work closely with you to direct your continued growth and knowledge development in the chosen research topic discipline.

  • Please review your project with your academic or study abroad advisor to ensure it will transfer back to your home school and that you are following your home school’s policies.

Choosing Your Research Project

  • Review Project titles and descriptions below.
  • List 3 (in order of preference) in your personal essay.
  • Program is highly individualized, with limited enrollment.
  • You will need to complete a brief Literature Review in consultation with your research supervisor prior to departure before the start of the program. More details here.
  • We encourage you to contact Arcadia’s Assistant Dean of STEM programs, Dr. Jessie Guinn, to discuss your particular research interests further.

Biomedical Sciences with the Royal Veterinary College, London

Course ID Title Credits Syllabus
LONS RSLW 392S International Independent Research in STEM Fields 6 PDF

Summer 2020 Research Projects


Activating AMPK for the treatment of DMD

Disciplines: Cell Biology / Genetics
Supervisor: Prof Dominic Wells
Campus: Camden

The mdx mouse is a model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a lethal X-linked disease of muscle. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a master metabolic sensor in cells and an on-switch for the autophagy-mitophagy pathway. We hypothesize that increased AMPK activity will lead to a reduction in histopathology and other disease markers in the mdx mouse. We will cross a transgenic overexpressing AMPK with the mdx mouse and analyze the skeletal muscle.

Techniques utilized: Cryosectioning, histology, immunocytochemistry, qPCR


Perineuronal net development in a model of preterm brain injury

Disciplines: Neuroscience / Cell Biology
Supervisor: Dr. Helen Stolp
Campus: Camden

Perineuronal nets are produced by the deposition of extracellular matrix components around specific neuronal populations, to facilitate their growth and maturation. Perineuronal nets have been well described around parvalbumin-interneurons in the hippocampus and cortex, and regulation of the perineuronal net can significantly alter the activity of these cells. In our model of preterm brain injury, we see a deficit in parvalbumin interneurons, and we will study the involvement of the perineuronal net in this pathology.

Techniques utilized: Immunohistochemistry, microscopy, image analysis


Understanding the role of phosphate in the terminal differentiation of osteoblasts into osteocytes

Disciplines: Cell Biology / Developmental Biology
Supervisor: Dr. Isabel Orriss
Campus: Camden

The project will use cell and molecular biology approaches to determine whether the extracellular phosphate concentration plays a role in driving the terminal differentiation of osteoblasts into osteocytes

Techniques utilized: Real-time PCR, histological staining, Microscopy, Image Analysis


microRNA regulation of embryonic cell development

Disciplines: Developmental Biology / Genetics
Supervisor: Dr. Bradley Cobb
Campus: Camden

A key question in cell and developmental biology is how the mammalian embryo is assembled. Developmental fates are controlled by the regulation of gene expression, and miRNAs play an important part in this. These small, double-stranded RNAs of approximately 22 nucleotides act by post-transcriptionally suppressing gene expression. They operate to fine-tune expression levels, and their importance is exemplified by their absence, which results in the lethality of the early embryo. We wish to understand the function of miRNAs in the early embryo by testing their regulation of specific genes involved in the initial developmental program.

Techniques utilized: Core techniques in molecular biology including mammalian cell culture, protein extract preparation, and Western blotting


Investigation of fluorescence-labeled extracellular vesicles from equine mesenchymal stem cells

Disciplines: Cell Biology / Developmental Biology
Supervisor: Dr. Jay Dudhia
Campus: Hawkshead

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are important mediators in the therapeutic effects of stem cells involving cell-to-cell communication but is not well characterized for horse mesenchymal stem cells. This in vitro project will investigate the migration of fluorescence-tagged EVs in horse tendon sections and potential uptake by tendon fibroblasts, the tenocytes.

Techniques utilized: Cell culture, bright-field and fluorescence microscopy and time-lapse tracking, image analysis


Cell signaling regulation during endothelial cell growth

Disciplines: Cell Biology / Developmental Biology
Supervisor: Prof Tej Dhoot
Campus: Camden

Highly regulated cell signaling during normal development and regeneration ensures controlled matched blood vessel growth. Dysregulated receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) mediated cell signaling, however, drives abnormal angiogenesis blood vessel maturation. The key aim of this project is to determine which RTK components of angiogenic cell signaling undergo major changes during different cellular or environmental conditions. HMEC-1 cells in this project will be grown in the normal growth medium and in the presence of growth factors and/or RTK cell signaling inhibitors to determine how such components regulate endothelial cell growth.

Techniques utilized: Cell culture, imaging, RT PCR and some immunocytochemical analyses will be used to monitor endothelial cell growth


Does hypoxia modulate functional divergence and proliferative potential of endothelial cells?

Disciplines: Cell Biology / Developmental Biology
Supervisor: Prof Tej Dhoot
Campus: Camden

We hypothesize that endothelial cells under hypoxia adapt through cell signaling changes that promote cell proliferation. The delivery of oxygen and nutrients by blood vessels is essential for the survival of all tissues. Damage or blockage of a blood vessel if not fatal leads to tissue ischemia that activates a stress response with the potential to trigger recovery by attempting to re-vascularise the ischemic tissue. The process of revascularization is triggered by angiogenesis, a process characterized by the growth of endothelial cells. There are, however, many in vivo inhibitors that prevent such an initial step of re-vascularisation by preventing endothelial cell growth. There are also some angiogenic growth factors that can promote angiogenesis. Most inhibitors as well as growth promoters, however, are heterogeneous and therefore do not always produce their desired effects. The key aim of this project is to investigate in vitro heterogeneity of endothelial cells and how different endothelial cell populations respond to transient or longer-term hypoxia.

Techniques utilized: The endothelial cell diversity and their hypoxic responses will be investigated using immunocytochemical and RT PCR technology


Do extracellular vesicles play a role in vascular inflammation in hyperglycemia

Disciplines: Immunology / Cell Biology
Supervisor: Dr. Charlotte Lawson
Campus: Camden

The project will seek to determine whether extracellular vesicles that are released from hyperglycaemic endothelial cells cause inflammatory responses in endothelium in vitro.

Techniques utilized: cell culture, flow cytometry, reactive oxygen species assays, proliferation assays


Can extracellular vesicles isolated from cows’ milk affect human immune cell responses in vitro

Disciplines: Immunology / Cell Biology
Supervisor: Dr. Charlotte Lawson
Campus: Camden

The project will seek to determine whether extracellular vesicles isolated from milk collected from cows at different stages of lactation have similar, magnified or opposing effects on human monocyte activation in vitro.

Techniques utilized: Ultracentrifugation, cell culture, flow cytometry, ELISA and western blotting


Effect of early life nutrition supply on the development of spleen and thymus in calves

Disciplines: Immunology / Cell Biology
Supervisor: Dr. Zhangrui Cheng
Campus: Hawkshead

Emerging evidence has shown that nutrition and metabolism have an integral role in controlling immune responses. Changes in immune responses in the presence of various stimuli, including bacteria and viruses, require a sharp increase in nutrient supply. In the dairy industry calves are fed a restricted milk diet to encourage concentrate intake. Our hypothesis is that changes in early life nutrition and energy supply affect the development of splenic and thymus functions in calves. In the present project, calves were fed a standard and enhanced diet pre- and post-weaning and the tissue samples were collected at 21 weeks of age. You will examine the above hypothesis via comparing the difference of expression of the selected genes involved in immunometabolism (interactions between metabolism and Inflammation) between the dietary groups.

Techniques utilized: PCR and qPCR


Investigating Sleep Disturbance in Dogs with Muscular Dystrophy

Disciplines: Large Animal Medicine
Supervisor: Dr. Abbe Crawford
Campus: Hawkshead

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a genetic disease in which affected patients are unable to produce dystrophin, a protein vital for normal muscle and brain function. One of the many problems faced by boys with MD is disrupted sleep. As yet it is unknown if dogs with MD also show altered sleep patterns.

Techniques utilized: Sleep patterns will be studied in normal dogs and dogs with MD using night camera video recordings and accelerometer activity recordings


Animal-free selection of antibody reagents

Disciplines: Immunology / Microbiology
Supervisor: Dr. Rob Noad
Campus: Hawkshead

Production of antibodies for research using animals is a multibillion-dollar industry but it is entirely possible to select antibodies without using any live animals which raise a question over current practices that are ethically acceptable. Cattle antibodies have a unique structure compared to other species that might make them particularly useful as affinity reagents. This project will characterize a new in vitro library of cattle antibodies produced at RVC as a potential source of antibody reagents for research studies.

Techniques utilized: Bacterial and phage culture, DNA sequence analysis, phage display, ELISA


Characterizing the equine endothelial cell and its role in exercise-induced angiogenesis

Discipline: Cell Biology
Supervisor: Dr. Liz Finding & Prof Caroline Wheeler-Jones
Campus: Camden

Investigate the protein expression of equine endothelial cells in culture and in vessel and muscle tissue sections. Compare protein expression in cultured cells after treatment with pro-angiogenic factors.

Techniques utilized: Cell and tissue culture; immunofluorescence; western blotting; functional assays in equine endothelial cells


Mitochondrial dysfunction in neonatal brain injury – do Prohibitins play a role?

Disciplines: Cell Biology / Neuroscience
Supervisor: Dr. Claire Thornton
Campus: Camden

Asphyxia (restricted blood flow/oxygen to the brain) during birth occurs in 2-3 term babies per 1000 in the UK, leading to the development of hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) and permanent, life-long neurological and motor disorders. Following asphyxia, mitochondria become damaged, cellular energy levels fall and neurons die. This project will investigate whether mitochondrial Prohibitin proteins can be targeted for neuroprotection after asphyxial injury.

Techniques utilized: Immunoprecipitation and western blot, qRTPCR, tissue culture, microscopy


Identifying Cellular Mechanisms for the Skeletal Benefits of SFX-01

Disciplines: Cell Biology / Developmental Biology
Supervisor: Prof Andrew Pitsillides
Campus: Camden

The student will measure the effects of SFX-01, a sulforaphane-like compound, on bone cell behavior.

Techniques utilized: Cell culture, bone resorption/formation assays, imaging


Molecular detection of novel canine circovirus (CCirV) and bocavirus (CBoV) in the UK

Disciplines: Virology / Large Animal Medicine
Supervisor: Dr. Judy Hyde
Campus: Hawkshead

The two most significant causes of morbidity in kennelled dogs are canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) and gastroenteritis. In recent years several novel infectious agents including canine circovirus (CCirV) and canine bocavirus (CBoV)have been associated with the development of gastroenteritis and CIRD, but very little is known about their global presence. This will be the first survey of CCirV and CBoV in the UK dogs and will involve the analysis of samples collected from healthy and diseased dogs to assess the presence and prevalence of these two viruses in our UK dog population.

Techniques utilized: Nucleic acid extraction and quantitative real-time PCR


Is collagen content modulated in torsed equine umbilical cords?

Disciplines: Cell Biology / Developmental Biology
Supervisor: Dr. Mandi de Mestre
Campus: Hawkshead

Umbilical cord torsion is the most common pathological diagnosis associated with equine abortion in the UK but little is known of the underlying etiology. This project aims to compare the collagen content in the umbilical cords of pregnancies associated with umbilical cord torsion with control pregnancies that produce healthy foals. Paraffin-embedded tissue previously banked will be sectioned and then stained with Massons Trichrome and collagen quantified and compared using ImageJ.

Techniques utilized: Histology and possibly immunohistochemistry to look at subtypes of collagen


Does genomic copy number variation in failed early equine pregnancies impact on gene expression?

Disciplines: Genetics / Developmental Biology
Supervisor: Dr. Mandi de Mestre
Campus: Hawkshead

Early pregnancy loss occurs in 7-10% of pregnancies but in the majority of cases, the underlying cause is not known. We recently found that a subset of failed early male conceptuses but not control conceptuses had a microdeletion of the gene stromal antigen 1, a key gene involved in the cohesion complex. We propose that the genomic microdeletion would result in a corresponding deletion of the STAG2 transcript which would in turn impact early development. We have gDNA CNV quantified in a series of conceptuses. The student would measure STAG2 mRNA (and protein if time permits) in the corresponding conceptuses and determine whether there is an association between the genomic copy number and mRNA expression.

Techniques utilized: cDNA synthesis, RT-PCR, quantitative PCR


Creating an interactive atlas of canine anatomy, histology and magnetic resonance imaging features

Disciplines: Neuroanatomy / Imaging Science
Supervisor: Dr. Abbe Crawford
Campus: Hawkshead

Formalin-fixed brain tissue will be sectioned and photographed to create an atlas of the gross anatomy of the canine brain. This will be combined with histological sections stained with hematoxylin & eosin and imaged using a slide scanner. The student will then combine these images with representative images from MRI of dog brains to create an interactive atlas for learning.

Many students find learning and understanding brain anatomy challenging. Using samples from our Companion Animal Brain bank, this project will aim to create an interactive, online atlas of brain anatomy, histology and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for use by undergraduate students, postgraduate students, clinical and research staff.


Grade Scale for the United Kingdom - AACRAO EDGE

The following information is vetted and provided by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) on the Electronic Database for Global Education (EDGE).

Percentage Description U.S. Equivalent
70 – 100% First Class A
60 – 69% Second Class Upper B+
50 – 59% Second Class Lower B
40 – 49% Third Class/Pass C
0 – 39% Fail F
Intellectual property copyright AACRAO EDGE