A new open access journal, an old friend

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

General phenotype of Slit1b morphants. External morphology of a Slit1b morphant at 48 hpf, compared with an embryo treated with the same amount (2 ng) of Slit1a morpholino, which is indistinguishable from a wild-type embryo (not shown). The alignment of the embryos on the vertical lines shows how the general growth of the Slit1b morphants is not affected. The head region, in contrast, seems severely affected, being smaller overall and having smaller eyes and thinner brain walls (with bigger ventricles).

Neural Development is a new journal from the open access publisher BioMed Central:

Neural Development is a peer-reviewed open access, online journal, which will feature studies that use molecular, cellular, physiological or behavioural methods to provide novel insights into the mechanisms that underlie the formation of the nervous system. [The journal] aims to discover how the nervous system arises and acquires the abilities to sense the world and control adaptive motor output. The field includes analysis of how progenitor cells form a nervous system during embryogenesis, and how the initially formed neural circuits are shaped by experience during early postnatal life. Some studies use well-established, genetically accessible model systems, but valuable insights are also obtained from less traditional models that provide behavioural or evolutionary insights.

(From the About page)

The journal’s founding editor is Andrew Lumsden, head of the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, where I began my ill-fated Ph.D. in 1998. Neural Development has been online since October of last year, and currently has 7 research articles. The figure above is from one of those articles, by Zolessi, et al.

Yesterday evening I met with John Gilthorpe, an old friend from Andrew’s department. It was John who supervised my favourite part of the Ph.D. – the cloning of a ~4 kbp fragment of the gene encoding chick Slit 2, an axon guidance molecule. John also taught me how to use the DNA analysis software, with which we designed primers and compared the DNA sequences we subsequently isolated with the homologous mouse sequences. When the chips were down, John supported and encouraged me more than any other lab member, including my official supervisor.

I took John to the Jerusalem Tavern, a delightful small pub in Clerkenwell, which has a wide range of real ales and which can be traced back to the 14th Century. Over a few pints of organic real ale, we discussed the joys of fatherhood, interesting science stuff, inspirational scientists, the problems with academia and education, and the failures of Tony Blair’s science policies.


Zolessi, et al. (2006). Polarization and orientation of retinal ganglion cells in vivo. Neural Development 1 (2). DOI: 10.1186/1749-8104-1-2. [Full text]