PEOPLE

David J. Hodson

THE BOSS

David trained as a Veterinary Surgeon at the University of Bristol before commencing PhD studies on the seasonal regulation of fertility with Dr Domingo Tortonese. Following postdoctoral studies on the hypothalamo-pituitary axis with Dr Patrice Mollard at the Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle in Montpellier, France, David moved to Imperial College London where he set up a group devoted to diabetes research. In 2016, David joined the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research at the University of Birmingham where he leads the Islet Biology Group. The major aims of the group are to develop novel tools and imaging approaches to understand how alpha, beta and delta cells, which reside within the islet, release hormone to maintain normal glucose levels during health and disease.

d.hodson@bham.ac.uk

Daniela Nasteska

POSTDOC

Daniela is a Macedonian enjoying the UK life since 2016. Before deciding to see what the world has to offer, she finished nursing school, followed by medical school in Skopje, Macedonia, where she graduated as a doctor of medicine in 2004. After practicing medicine for several years as a general physician, she saw an open call of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Sport, Science and Technology (MEXT) offering a postgraduate fellowship and thought: ’how about trying?’ She successfully became a MEXT scholar in 2009 and moved to the single most beautiful city in the world-Kyoto in Japan. Her research there focused on the incretin GIP and its role in obesity as a PhD project, and becoming Japanese-Macedonian mix in her spare time (no, she’s not a fan of sushi and please stop asking). With the immense support of her supervisors from the Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Nutrition at Kyoto University, she earned her PhD in 2014. She did a short stint in Brussels, Belgium where she worked on premature beta cell death caused by ER stress, but decided that Belgian beers are simply not her thing. She joined David’s group in Birmingham in 2016 and settled down for (or better put, started with) understanding what beta cell heterogeneity is and what can it teach us. She’s a Brummie fan now (don’t believe hear-say, Birmingham is way cooler than you think) and convinced that their islet biology group (#hodsquad) can’t be matched.

d.nasteska@bham.ac.uk

Julia Ast

POSTDOC

Born and raised in Germany, Julia decided to move to the beautiful city of Salzburg in Austria to study Genetics. After finishing her Bachelor’s with distinction, she continued that route with a Master’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Marburg, Germany. Meanwhile she worked at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology in Leipzig, Germany. Torn between different research areas, she decided to continue her work on soluble receptors that import proteins from the cytosol into peroxisomes and related topics during her time as a PhD student in Marburg. Then it was time to change topic and country again and she started in David’s lab in 2016 as a Postdoctoral Fellow. Her work here mainly revolves around the G protein-coupled receptor GLP1R and how to target, label or activate this receptor to better understand its localisation and trafficking.

j.ast@bham.ac.uk

Katrina Viloria

POSTDOC

Katrina is a Slytherin born and raised in the Philippines. Her family later decided to voyage to the last frontier and moved to Alaska when she was 13 years old. In Alaska she explored her love for science and pursued an undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Alaska Anchorage. It was during this time she landed a summer internship with the NIDDK, and learned about diabetes with her first lab experience. Her quest for knowledge and travel brought her to Kingston University London where she acquired a Masters in Biotechnology. Here she met Dr. Natasha Hill with whom she undertook a summer project studying matricellular proteins. After enjoying research work, fish and chips and afternoon tea, she decided to stay in England and continue her work in Kingston to pursue a PhD investigating SPARC matricellular proteins and their role in diabetes. Katrina’s thirst for adventure lead her to the University of Birmingham where she joined Prof. David Hodson’s #hodsquad as a postdoc to uncover the role of vitamin-D binding protein in diabetes. Currently, Katrina enjoys her time in England, discovering new places to run and hike. Apart from finding the cure to diabetes, next on her bucket list is to run the 6 Abbott World Major Marathons.

k.viloria@bham.ac.uk

Annie Hasib

POSTDOC

Born and raised in India, Annie moved to the UK to explore new culture and research environments. She finished her master’s in Biotechnology with distinction, during which she got the opportunity to work in diabetes research group led by Prof Peter Flatt. Being in love with the Northern Irish Craic, she decided to stay at Ulster University to undertake a PhD investigating the role of gut hormones in obesity and diabetes. Her quest for new experiences led her to Scotland, where as a postdoc she worked on extracellular matrix remodelling during insulin resistance at University of Dundee. Annie is now back into islet research with Prof David Hodson, as a member of #hodsquad at University of Birmingham.

a.hasib@bham.ac.uk

Fiona Ashford

POSTDOC

Fiona was raised in Dundee, the city of many discoveries and of course the Beano.  As one half of a double act there was always competition over leaving Dundee but after drawing the short straw Fiona stayed put. Fiona studied neuroscience at the University of Dundee, where she landed an exciting summer internship learning electrophysiology in the lab of Prof. Rory McCrimmon. As luck would have it she got to grips with patching quickly so remained in his lab to complete her final year project then another two years as a research technician. Fiona was so fond of Dundee that she chose to stay and undertake a PhD, trying her hand at biochemistry investigating the role of palmitoylation and glutatiolation in cardiac muscle. Needing a change of pace Fiona decided to move much further south than she originally thought (midlands = middle of England, not the UK!) to post doc, where she moved back into the diabetes field to work with Prof. David Hodson as a member of #hodsquad. When Fiona is not in the lab she enjoys getting lost while hill walking, making jewellery and cooking.

f.ashford@bham.ac.uk

Nick Fine

PHD STUDENT-RESEARCH TECHNICIAN

Nick was born in Brighton, and after being forbidden to follow in his parent’s footsteps and become an architect decided to study biology. He scraped a Desmond from the University of Manchester in 2009 which set him up for a career as sales assistant in Boots the Chemist. This allowed him to fund a move to London for a master’s degree at Imperial College where he received a distinction. Torn between a part time management position at Boots or a full time role as a lab manager in the Section of Cell Biology and Functional Genomics, he elected to continue his scientific adventure. Three years later, impressed by his organisational and problem solving skills, David Hodson stole Nick from under the nose of his current employer and swept him off to sunny Birmingham to undertake a PhD. Upon arriving in Birmingham Nick discovered his true passion, ultimate Frisbee. Despite the distraction his PhD poses, the highlight of his career so far has been becoming UK club indoor national champion in 2018. He also cycles and plays board games in his spare time.

n.h.f.fine@bham.ac.uk

Federica Cuozzo

PHD STUDENT-RESEARCH ASSOCIATE

Born in Naples, this true Italian grew up in Caserta where she graduated as a biotechnologist at the Second University of Naples in 2015. Then, she moved to the University of L’Aquila for a two-year Master’s in molecular and cellular biotechnology, during which she met Dr. Dan Tennant of the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research at the University of Birmingham. On the hunt for a foreign experience, in 2016 Federica started her master’s thesis project in the Tennant group and after one year, in 2017, she joined Prof. David Hodson's group as research technician. Currently, Federica is a research associate and PhD student of the #hodsquad, working on the effect of PHD3 on glucose homeostasis. When not re-organising her already very organised lab book and bench (#neatfreak) she likes to cook, make homemade cosmetics, practice calligraphy and play board games.

f.cuozzo@bham.ac.uk

Anne de Bray

ACADEMIC CLINICAL FELLOW

Born and raised in Northamptonshire, Annie moved to Birmingham to complete her medical degree.  She became interested in diabetes and endocrinology during her undergraduate studies and upon graduating in 2012, chose to remain in the West Midlands for postgraduate training and focus upon learning about and teaching diabetes and endocrinology to peers and medical students.  She spent a wonderful year as a clinical teaching fellow, gained a Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education and entered specialty training in 2017.  Currently she is an Academic Clinical Fellow investigating the link between thyroid hormone and islet maturity and function and hopes to obtain a clinical research training fellowship.  When she is not breaking pipettes in the lab or running around On Call in the hospital, she enjoys creating hygge by playing board games, petting local cats and eating good food with good friends.

a.y.debray@bham.ac.uk

ALUMNI

Lewis Everett

MRes STUDENT

2017-2019

Maria Jimenez Ramos

ERASMUS STUDENT

2019

Claudio Zoppi

VISITING RESEARCH FELLOW

2019

Alice O'Donnell

SUMMER STUDENT

2019

Nicholas Folidis

SUMMER STUDENT

2018

Anastasia Arvaniti

RESEARCH TECHNICIAN 

2016-2018

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David J. Hodson, Islet Biology Lab, University of Birmingham, Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, Centre for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism