Professor Tanya Whitfield
Professor of Developmental Biology
Room: C21 Firth Court
Brief career history
Development of the fish inner ear
Summary for the non-specialist
Current projects in the Whitfield lab include:
Morphogenesis and patterning in the otic placode and vesicle
We are identifying pathways of gene activity that lead to correct axial patterning of the otic epithelium, together with establishment of the neurogenic, sensory and non-sensory domains in the developing ear. We have a long-standing interest in the roles that Hedgehog, Fgf and BMP signalling play in these processes.
Development of the vestibular system
The adult inner ear consists of three interconnected ducts of non-sensory epithelium—the semicircular canals—and various chambers containing sensory hair cells. We are examining zebrafish lines that develop with morphological defects of the semicircular canal system. We are using light-sheet microscopy to image semicircular canal formation in these lines, and automated tracking of adult fish to measure any balance deficits.
Optical section through a semicircular canal duct (circular structure, top left) and ampulla (sensory chamber) in an adult zebrafish ear. Inner ear epithelial cells are labelled in green, and actin is stained in red. The actin-rich hair bundles of the sensory hair cells form a bright red fringe on top of the crista, a band of sensory tissue at the base of the ampulla. Image credit: S. Baxendale and N. van Hateren. Transgenic line from Robert Knight.
Undergraduate taught modules
Postdoc position available: Computational Image Analysis for Microscopy
A 12-month postdoctoral post is available, funded by the BBSRC, to investigate development of the zebrafish inner ear. The project aims to use, develop and implement software for the computational analysis of large imaging datasets generated by light-sheet microscopy. This will involve the use and development of novel tools for automated cell segmentation, tracking and quantitative analysis.
The post holder will work within the group of Professor Alejandro Frangi (CISTIB, Faculty of Engineering, University of Sheffield), but will also spend regular time liaising with the Whitfield lab in the Bateson Centre and Department of Biomedical Science.
The successful candidate should hold a PhD or equivalent in a relevant subject, with interest and expertise in biological image analysis, microscopy, medical image computing, computer vision or machine learning. Experience with packages such as Fiji, Arivis and Imaris would be an advantage. The postholder will assist in the supervision of one or more postgraduate students whose projects are closely allied to the objectives of the grant.
The post is fixed-term for 12 months, with an immediate start date.
Applications can be made directly online here (job ref. UOS017267).
PhD positions for 2017 entry to the lab are now filled.
We welcome enquiries about opportunities for postdoctoral or postgraduate study in the lab. Any funding opportunities will be listed here when available, but we also welcome enquiries from postdocs who are interested in preparing fellowship applications (e.g. Marie Sklowodska-Curie Actions - Individual Fellowships). Please contact:
Professor Tanya Whitfield
- Alsina B & Whitfield TT (2016) Sculpting the labyrinth: Morphogenesis of the developing inner ear.. Semin Cell Dev Biol. View this article in WRRO
- Baxendale S & Whitfield TT (2016) Methods to study the development, anatomy, and function of the zebrafish inner ear across the life course. Methods in Cell Biology, 133, 165-209. View this article in WRRO
- Stooke-Vaughan GA, Obholzer ND, Baxendale S, Megason SG & Whitfield TT (2015) Otolith tethering in the zebrafish otic vesicle requires Otogelin and -Tectorin. Development, 142(6), 1137-1145. View this article in WRRO
- Maier EC & Whitfield TT (2014) RA and FGF Signalling Are Required in the Zebrafish Otic Vesicle to Pattern and Maintain Ventral Otic Identities. PLoS Genetics, 10(12), e1004858-e1004858. View this article in WRRO
- Geng F-S, Abbas L, Baxendale S, Holdsworth CJ, Swanson AG, Slanchev K, Hammerschmidt M, Topczewski J & Whitfield TT (2013) Semicircular canal morphogenesis in the zebrafish inner ear requires the function of gpr126 (lauscher), an adhesion class G protein-coupled receptor gene.. Development, 140(21), 4362-4374. View this article in WRRO