Postdoctoral Alumni - Amanda Barlow
In 2007, Amanda Barlow needed a change of scene. Then, Barlow was a research fellow studying embryology at the Institute of Child Health, University College in London. Since earning her Ph.D. in developmental biology at Victoria University in Manchester in 1995, she had developed intense interest in migrating neural crest cells that colonize the gut to form the enteric nervous system. Now she wanted a fresh perspective, both personally and professionally. That need led her join the lab of Stowers’ Paul Trainor, an established leader in the study of neural crest cell development.
A native of the UK, Barlow says that the transition from London to Kansas City was a shock, but that being at Stowers made it much less so. “The Trainor lab was an oasis because of its diversity,” she says. “It attracts people from around the world, and since they were out of their normal environment, they tended to be more social. Some of our best ideas were born out of sharing a drink!”
Barlow spent three and a half years as a Senior Research Associate in the Trainor lab characterizing gene defects that cause Hirschsprung’s disease, a condition in which children are born with only partial innervation of the bowel due to neural crest defects. Her efforts culminated in 2012 and 2013 studies published in Human Molecular Genetics that identified genes required for proper neural crest cell generation, proliferation and survival. While in the lab she also had the rare opportunity to teach for four consecutive summers at the prestigious Woods Hole Embryology Course, where Trainor conducts the mouse embryology course, and continues to do so.
Now an Associate Scientist in the Department of Surgery at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Barlow works with pediatric surgeons who treat infants born with Hirschsprung’s Disease and is immersing herself in a new topic, how the enteric nervous system integrates with the immune response to influence disease outcomes.Barlow praises Trainor lavishly as a mentor, both in terms of conviviality and generosity toward his students and postdoctoral fellows. When invited speakers came to the lab, Paul always included us in the conversations, which enabled our efforts to be directly recognized.