Dr Lauren Buck
University Teacher - Human Anatomy
Department of Biomedical Science
The University of Sheffield
Sheffield S10 2TN
Room: B105 Addison building
Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 2391
Brief career history
My research has been focussed on the use of the zebrafish as a model organism to identify the unwanted ototoxic effects of compounds at the early pre-clinical stages of drug development. Specifically, the research aimed to assess the comparative translational capability and validity of this model system by using a combination of established histological and novel functional assays. More detailed investigations into the underlying mechanisms of cisplatin-induced hair cell damage were performed to further validate the model, giving rise to a number of potential routes for further exploration.
I am interested in using the zebrafish inner ear and lateral line systems to model compound-induced hearing and balance impairment in humans. My research has investigated the cellular and functional consequences of exposure to medicines that damage the hearing and balance systems as an off-target effect (ototoxins). I am especially interested in the effects of cisplatin (a platinum-based compound used in cancer treatment) and cisplatin-like compounds.
I currently hold a teaching (100%) position within the university but retain a fervent interest in ototoxicity research, particularly concerning the underlying mechanisms of cisplatin-induced hair cell damage and the prevention of cisplatin-induced ototoxicity.
In 2014/15 I acted as Co-PI, supervising two PG Masters Students. The first project was part-funded by Action on Hearing Loss and involved collaboration with the Chemistry department; it focussed on testing newly synthesised photo-activated cisplatin-like compounds for their toxicity, and more specifically, toxicity to hair cells. The second project was tailored to a Taught Masters programme (MSc Molecular Medicine) and was entitled “The zebrafish as a screening tool to identify compounds with protective effects against cisplatin ototoxicity.”
The screening project identified a number of novel protective compounds against cisplatin ototoxicity and further work will be required to validate and characterise these hit compounds and to understand their underlying mechanisms of action.
Learning and Teaching focus (projects):
I specialise in Anatomy education at undergraduate level. I am interested in the way that students learn and the use of enterprise activities in the learning environment. I am currently working on a project which aims to encourage students to become creative problem-solvers by applying their academic knowledge to real life situations.
Teaching Goals and Future Directions
“Introduction to Human Anatomy” is a 20 credit module that runs throughout the academic year. Students often struggle to retain knowledge acquired in the first semester and additionally have little evidence of how they have used subject specific knowledge to find solutions to real-life problems and communicate their science.
The Organ Donation Project is being developed to meet these requirements. The aim is to enhance student learning by incorporating enterprise and science communication skills into the curriculum, whilst maintaining academic rigour. The focus on Semester 1content creates the opportunity for the revision of previous learning, providing a more coherent module.
The project brief centres on the problem of the lack of registered organ donors in the UK and is posed as both a biomedical and “supply and demand” issue. Students are asked to create a novel, anatomically relevant advertising campaign promoting the donation of a specific organ to a subset of the general public. Students work in groups to plan their campaign, create an innovative advert and pitch their advert to judges. They are also required to submit a succinct application for kick-starter funding.
The project is under continual development. Collaborations have been established with external partners from Diva Creative and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. New online support materials have also been developed.
Future plans include assessing student perceptions of the project through focus groups and building on the sustainability of the project and of relationships with external collaborators.
Undergraduate and postgraduate taught modules
- Buck L, Winter M, Redfern W & Whitfield T (2012) Ototoxin-induced cellular damage in neuromasts disrupts lateral line function in larval zebrafish. JOURNAL OF PHARMACOLOGICAL AND TOXICOLOGICAL METHODS, 66(2), 163-163.
- Buck LMJ, Winter MJ, Redfern WS & Whitfield TT (2012) Ototoxin-induced cellular damage in neuromasts disrupts lateral line function in larval zebrafish. Hearing Research, 284(1-2), 67-81. View this article in WRRO
Conference proceedings papers
- Buck L, Winter MJ, Redfern WS & Whitfield TT (2009) The zebrafish as an invivo model of drug-induced hearing and vestibular impairment. MECHANISMS OF DEVELOPMENT, Vol. 126 (pp S330-S330)