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The University of Southampton
Biological SciencesPostgraduate study

Ms Maria  Fankhaenel BSc, MSc

Postgraduate Research Student in Developmental Biology

Ms Maria   Fankhaenel's photo

Maria Fankhaenel is a Postgraduate Research Student within Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton.

After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and Bioinformatics and Master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Maria followed up with a placement at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (MIT, USA), where she investigated parent-of-origin DNA methylation dynamics in mouse embryonic stem cells.

During this time, Maria developed an interest in stem cell biology, which led to her current PhD project where she investigates oriented cell division in mammary stem cells.

Academic Qualifications:

2017 – present: PhD in Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, UK.
2014 – 2016: MSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Potsdam, Germany.
2010 – 2013: BSc in Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, University of Applied Sciences Mittweida, Germany.
2011 – 2012: Applied Bioscience, University of the West of Scotland, UK (Semester abroad).

Research interests

The mammary gland develops predominantly after birth, with dramatic tissue growth and turnover during the reproductive cycle. The gland’s resident stem cells must balance proliferation and differentiation through execution of symmetric versus asymmetric cell divisions. One fundamental process that regulates these division modes involves the alignment of the mitotic spindle along a polarity axis. Mechanisms of spindle positioning remain unfolding, particularly in epithelial systems such as the mammary gland.  

My research aims to identify novel factors that regulate spindle orientation and uncover how these molecular mechanisms influence mammary gland development and homeostasis. Unravelling the machinery controlling oriented cell division in the mammary epithelium will be essential for not only understanding normal epithelia biology but will also enhance our understanding of how imbalance of stem cell self-renewal and behaviour can lead to cancer.

Supervisors: Dr Salah Elias & Prof Keith Jones
PhD Research: Unravelling the genetics and developmental biology of cell division in mammary stem cells
Funding: Gerald Kerkut Trust & Biological Sciences

Research group

Biomedical Sciences

Affiliate research groups

Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS), Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and Regeneration (CHDSCR)

Research project(s)

The genetics and developmental biology of cell division in mammary stem cells

Uncovering the molecular mechanisms of asymmetric cell divisions in the adult mammary epithelium

Ms Maria Fankhaenel
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ

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