top of page

Sharna Lunn

BSc (Hons) MRes


My project is aimed at documenting the presence, timing and impact of an embryo's midline on the organisation of the body's axes during early mammalian development.


In the effort to reduce reliance on animal models, we use mouse embryonic stem cells to create reproducible free-floating, 3D aggregates capable of self-organisation after tailored external input, otherwise known as 3D gastruloids. The manner in which 3D gastruloids are created leads to the replication of multiple aspects of the developmental process of our interest (gastrulation), including differentiation between head and tail (anterior-posterior axis) and producing vertebrae progenitors (somites). What is unknown is whether 3D gastruloids exhibit an accurate representation of a "midline", which, as it's name suggests, is the hypothetical stripe across the length of the embryo, capable of determining embryo organisation such as left-right asymmetry. Using state-of-the-art microscopy techniques, we will visualise and analyse the organisation of the midline in 3D gastruloids, with the aim of distinguishing what this model system can tell us about the early development of the mouse embryo.


  1. Chapman, G., Alsaqati, M., Lunn, S. et al. Using induced pluripotent stem cells to investigate human neuronal phenotypes in 1q21.1 deletion and duplication syndrome. Mol Psychiatry 27, 819–830 (2022).

  2. Cagan, A., Baez-Ortega, A., Brzozowska, N. et al., Somatic mutation rates scale with lifespan across mammals. Nature 604, 517–524 (2022).

Education & Training


University of Cardiff

PhD focussed on neurodevelopment using cerebral organoids


Wellcome Sanger Institute

Advanced Research Assistant in Cancer, Ageing and Somatic Mutations Team


University of Bath

MRes. in Developmental Biology


Oxford Brookes University

BSc (Hons.) in Biology

bottom of page