Meet the Scientist - Thomas Piers (University College London)
Meet the Scientist - Dr Thomas Piers (UCL)
Dr Thomas Piers, Research Associate
- Queen Square Institute of Neurology
Faculty of Brain Sciences
University College London
Can you explain your research within PHAGO in 2 sentences?
Developing iPSC models of human microglia to understand the roles of TREM2 and CD33. We then incorporate our findings into possible screening models to be used within the consortium.
What do your friends and family think what you are doing in the lab?
Most of my friends and family think I use a lot of test tubes. I’m clearly not very good at explaining my research.
What are you really doing? (What’s your favourite task to do in the lab?)
I’m performing an array of techniques: from generating stem cells from patient fibroblasts, genotyping the generated lines, developing more accurate models of human microglia, to running functional experiments on microglial physiology. My favourite task would be the functional experimentation, but I always love seeing the stem cells appear from the fibroblast cultures.
Why are you interested in Alzheimer’s Disease?
Seeing your loved ones fade away in front of you is an incredibly trying experience for everyone involved. Our lack of knowledge in this process is understandable considering the challenges we face in understanding much simpler human biology. I want to contribute, even slightly, to progress in the field that will alleviate some of the stress and anxiety caused by this disease, and I think that starts by getting the model right.
What is the major challenge in Alzheimer research for you?
Developing genuinely relevant models of aspects of the human disease.
Trem2 or CD33?
Coffee or Tea?
Why does your research matter to the average citizen/man on the street?
Everyone knows someone affected by Alzheimer’s disease and that will only increase if we don’t find solutions to the problems associated with the disease>.
The must-follow science twitter account?
The must-read article on Alzheimer research?
Joshi et al., 2019. Fragmented Mitochondria Released From Microglia Trigger A1 Astrocytic Response and Propagate Inflammatory Neurodegeneration. Nat Neurosci. 22(10):1635-1648. doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0486-0.
What else do you like to read (except research articles)?
I like reading History books, Autobiographies of my favourite comedians, historical fantasy novels, and cricket statistics.
Your most surprising research finding?
I think it would be observations in my previous post doc that showed tau mislocating to the synapse in a model of synaptic weakening.
What is your personal highlight in PHAGO up to now?
Getting together for the General Assembly Meetings and learning about what everyone else has been doing.
What’s your favourite thing to do outside the lab?
Seed propagation and wild swimming.
Best recent TV series/movie/novel depicting scientists?
"Devs". It features computer scientists, but scientists all the same!