Elena Navarro Guerrero
Head of functional genomics
Elena oversees the portfolio of CRISPR-Cas9 screens within the lab and supervises students and researchers. She joined Xcellomics in 2021, a partnership between Exscientia, an AI-driven pharmatech company, and the University of Oxford. She is part of a research team working on a platform to run phenotypic screens adapted to different cell models using CRISPR-Cas9, a clever tool which enables the finding of regulatory mechanisms and gene targets relevant to disease. She has optimized some high-content sortable read outs for marker-based CRISPR screens, escalating the available cellular phenotypes in the platform. Current research involves the development of an approach to integrate CRISPR-Cas9 machinery into human iPS-derived cells. For instance, we performed a genome-wide knockout screen in iPSC-derived macrophages, using TNF as read-out, to explore macrophage involvement in immune response (doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-82137-z). We have recently performed another genome-wide pooled CRISPR loss-of-function screen in human pancreatic beta cells, in this case with insulin-based cell-sorting, which has identified genes regulating insulin expression in type 2 diabetes (doi.org/10.1101/2021.05.28.445984).
Elena obtained her B.Sc. in Biotechnology from the University Pablo de Olavide, Spain, in 2010. She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Seville in 2015, where she investigated the carotid body neural-crest stem cells, with a particular interest in CD10, a marker that identified mesectoderm-committed progenitors in the carotid body niche. This is a chemoreceptor organ in which a population of stem cells reside, which undergo neurogenesis and angiogenesis to adapt to hypoxia. CD10 contributes to define the onset of angiogenesis in response to hypoxic conditions. These adult neural stem cells offer extraordinary opportunities for studying plasticity and regeneration in the nervous system, as well as for developing new potential therapies for neurological disorders.