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 2019 Research Projects

Discipline Campus Title
Animal Behavior Hawkshead Behavioural predictors of broiler health and welfare
Biomedical Science / Cell Biology Camden Activating AMPK for the treatment of DMD
Biomimetics & Flight Dynamics Hawkshead Flow sensing on the wing for insect flight control
Cancer Biology Camden Does hypoxia trigger cancer cell transdifferentiation in some glioblastoma cells? 
Cancer Biology Camden Do some bile duct cells in Cholangiocarcinoma transdifferentiate into other cell types?
Cell Biology Camden Do extracellular vesicles play a role in vascular inflammation in hyperglycaemia
Cell Biology Camden Identifying Cellular Mechanisms for the Skeletal Benefits of SFX-01
Developmental Biology Camden The role of in vivo modulation of mechanical signals
Developmental Biology Camden microRNA regulation of embryonic cell development
Endocrinology Camden How do endocrine disrupting chemicals contribute to pituitary tumour development?
Immunology/Cell Biology Camden Can extracellular vesicles isolated from cows milk affect human immune cell responses in vitro
Musculoskeletal Biology Hawkshead Accelerometry based activity and behavior monitoring in dogs
Neuroscience Camden Perineuronal net development in a model of preterm brain injury
Reproductive Biology Hawkshead The effect of environmental factors on oocyte maturation and development
For more information about the campuses, please see the About RVC page.

2019 Research Project Descriptions

 

Discipline: Animal Behavior

Behavioural predictors of broiler health and welfare

Campus: Hawkshead

The study will involve objective behavioural analysis of video footage using an ethogram and a specific sampling and recording protocol, as well as potentially some accelerometer data previously captured during studies of broiler health and welfare. The aim is to determine early behavioural changes in broiler chickens that predict later onset of disease other welfare outcomes.

Techniques:  Objective behavioural analysis, accelerometer data processing

 

DISCIPLINE: Biomedical Science / Cell Biology

Activating AMPK for the treatment of DMD

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 hypothesise 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 analyse the skeletal muscle.

Techniques: Cryosectioning, histology, immunocytochemistry, qPCR

 

DISCIPLINE: Biomimetics & Flight Dynamics

Flow sensing on the wing for insect flight control

Campus: Hawkshead

Insects have plentiful flow sensitive hairs on their body and wings, yet it is unknown how the sensory cues they encode change during flight. Building on extensive aerodynamic studies, we will now examine how the aerodynamic state (and therefore the forces on the wings) can be encoded using simple rules and a state-of-the-art hair flow sensor.

Techniques: We will use a unique flapping robot - the flapperatus - to reproduce insect-like wing motions and monitor the flow field using the sensor, which acts much like a strain gauge. Keywords: Aerodynamics; strain gauge; amplifier; fabrication; 3D design; laser cutter; 3D printer; drone applications.

References: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-3190/10/5/056020/meta; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376042114000621

 

DISCIPLINE: Cancer Biology

Does hypoxia trigger cancer cell transdifferentiation in some glioblastoma cells?

Campus: Camden

Glioblastoma is a brain cancer with poor prognosis that may be made worse due to regional changes induced by ischemia (Masui et al, 2012). The delivery of oxygen and key nutrients is essential for growth and maintenance of all tissues but is particularly demanding in rapidly growing tumours. Many cancer cells attempt to recruit or transdifferentiate into blood/vascular components although such process is highly dysregulated. Our recent study demonstrated in vivo transdifferentiation of some liver cancer cells into erythrocytes without generating blood vessels for circulation (Hughes & Dhoot, 2018). We hypothesise that cancer cell transdifferentiation also takes place in a number of glioblastomas. The key objective of this project is to examine if hypoxia can induce cancer cell transdifferentiation in a glioblastoma cell line in vitro (Filatova et al, 2013). 

Techniques: RT PCR and immunocytochemical techniques will be used to examine if hypoxia in U251 cells induces reduction in neuronal cell characteristics and increased induction of undifferentiated stem cell markers.

 

DISCIPLINE: Cancer Biology

Do some bile duct cells in Cholangiocarcinoma transdifferentiate into other cell types?

Campus: Camden

Many reviews document the existence of cancer stem cells that are often resistant or become resistant following drug treatment over time (Sia et al, 2017). Such stem cells unlike the remaining tumour survive following drug therapy and have the potential to change their cell fate into any other cell fate to facilitate growth. Little information, however, is available regarding what such cells in different cancers convert into in practice. Our preliminary analysis shows bile duct cells in some cancers changing into other cell phenotypes in a step-wise and highly heterogeneous manner. We hypothesise that such cells are likely to adopt the phenotypes of their immediate neighbours than totally unrelated cells. The key objective of this project is to determine the extent of cancer cell transdifferentiation in a number of cholangiocarcinomas as we have defined in hepatocellular carcinoma (Hughes & Dhoot, 2018).

Techniques: The key technique to be used for such analysis will be immunocytochemical staining with antibodies to different cell type and stem cell markers.

 

DISCIPLINE: Cell Biology

Do extracellular vesicles play a role in vascular inflammation in hyperglycaemia

Campus: Camden

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

Techniques: Cell culture, flow cytometry, reactive oxygen species assays, proliferation assays.

 

DISCIPLINE: Cell Biology

Identifying Cellular Mechanisms for the Skeletal Benefits of SFX-01

Campus: Camden

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

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

 

DISCIPLINE: Developmental Biology

The role of in vivo modulation of mechanical signals

Campus: Camden

The student will measure the effects of mechanical modulation of cultured metatarsals.

Techniques: Embryonic limb organ culture, chick embryo model systems, imaging.

 

DISCIPLINE: Developmental Biology

microRNA regulation of embryonic cell development

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 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 programme.

Techniques: The student will learn core techniques in molecular biology including mammalian cell culture, protein extract preparation, and Western blotting.

 

DISCIPLINE: Endocrinology

How do endocrine disrupting chemicals contribute to pituitary tumour development?

Campus: Camden

Pituitary tumours are the most common form of intracranial tumour, affecting 1 in 6 humans by the time of their deaths. One subtype of these tumours leads to excess growth, due to the over production of growth hormone. This condition - called Acromegaly - is also seen in the domestic cat population, with an incidence almost ten times that seen in humans. Interestingly, patients (human and feline) with acromegaly also have elevated serum levels of chemicals used in plastics, that are known to be endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Therefore, this project will examine the effects of four of these EDCs on pituitary tumour cell lines, to determine the mechanisms by which these chemicals may either increase cell growth, cell survival, and increase the expression and secretion of growth hormone.

Techniques: Some of the following: cell culture, transient transfections, ELISAs. RNA extraction, multiplex RT-qPCR, Western blotting, immunocytochemistry, ROS assays.

 

DISCIPLINE: Immunology/Cell Biology

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

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: Ultracentrifugation, cell culture, flow cytometry, ELISA and western blotting.

 

DISCIPLINE: Musculoskeletal Biology

Accelerometry based activity and behavior monitoring in dogs

Campus: Hawkshead

This project will involve quantitative measurement of activity and behavior in dogs for clinical monitoring of neuromuscular and neurological disorders. Accelerometers and other loggers will be used in conjunction with video data to track activity levels, gait dynamics and movement characteristics, to help develop non-invasive and continuous techniques for monitoring health and disease progression.

Techniques: Accelerometry based measurement of activity patterns. Video tracking of behavior.

 

DISCIPLINE: Neuroscience

Perineuronal net development in a model of preterm brain injury

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: Immunohistochemistry, microscopy, image analysis.

 

DISCIPLINE: Reproductive Biology

The effect of environmental factors on oocyte maturation and development

Campus: Hawkshead

Increasing number of reports indicate the possible adverse reproductive effects from exposure to organic chemicals on animals and human health including reproduction. Organic chlorines such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) have been identified as highly lipophilic, persistent environmental pollutants in a variety of biota across the world. Another chemical Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is used as a softener in plastic packages. Research has shown this chemical can entre human diet and influence human health. Using in vitro maturation culture system for cow oocytes, this project aims to assess the effect of PCB and DHEB on oocyte nuclear maturation to metaphase II stage. It will also analyse health of oocytes and cumulus cells after exposure to different concentration of DEHP by TUNEL labelling to detect apoptosis. If time allows, the student will also assess fertilisation rate of the oocytes and embryo development through in vitro fertilisation and in vitro embryo culture techniques.

Techniques: Collection, selection and culture of cow oocytes, assessment of nuclear maturation and TUNEL staining and in vitro fertilisation and embryo culture techniques.


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