Sylvia Franklin

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Sylvia Franklin

Mabel Churn Scholarship in Ophthalmology


Joining us from: London, UK

DPhil Clinical Neurosciences (2023)

I am interested in the processes underlying embryonic development, how complex organs form and function, and what happens if these processes are disrupted. I completed my undergraduate degree in Medical Biosciences at Imperial College London, before undertaking an MRes in Stem Cells and Developmental Biology at University College London. I have spent the last year investigating the earliest stages of heart development and learning to grow beating heart cells in a dish! I am looking forward to applying my knowledge of developmental biology to the generation of stem cell models of the retina (retinal organoids), as part of my PhD. 

My PhD will be carried out in the MacLaren lab, who specialise in gene therapies for inherited retinal diseases. These conditions lead to progressively worsening vision and can even result in blindness. Despite the debilitating effects these conditions have on quality of life, there is currently no cure for inherited retinal disease. Retinal organoids could provide a more accurate, cost-effective way to test gene therapies for inherited retinal disease prior to pre-clinical testing.

Outside of the lab, I enjoy volleyball, bouldering, and cooking for my housemates. I chose St Cross for the social, welcoming environment of the college, and, of course, the food.

I am extremely grateful to the Mabel Churn Scholarship for providing the funding necessary to complete a PhD, allowing me to continue pursuing my career in research.