Spotlight on Dr Pascale Guillot
28 February 2017
This week the spotlight is on Pascale Guillot, Senior Lecturer and Head of the
What is your role and what does it involve?
I am a Senior Lecturer and Group Head at the UCL EGA Institute for Women's Health. This involves leading my team to perform at the highest standard, to advance medical research using rigorous, animal-free approaches.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I have been at UCL for three years. I was previously a lecturer at Imperial College London, which involved similar work.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
We recently showed that the cells isolated from pregnant women, also called amniotic stem cells because they are found in the liquid that surrounds the baby during pregnancy, can be used as a countermeasure to bone fragility. We found that these fantastic stem cells have the ability to make fragile bones stronger and more resistant to breaks. This is because the amniotic stem cells improve the quality of the bones by triggering a chain reaction and stimulating the bone-forming cells to be more active.
This study was conducted on bones from an experimental model of osteogenesis imperfecta, also called brittle bone disease because the bones become weak in response to a genetic mutation. In this disease, the bones become fragile because the genetic mutation renders the bone matrix unable to send the right message to the bone-forming cells, such that they become lazy. As a result, the bone formed is weak. The transplanted amniotic stem cells function as little boosters that counteract the detrimental effect of the mutation on the bone-forming cells.
The ability of amniotic stem cells to rejuvenate bone-forming cells may be used to treat other conditions where bones become fragile, such as osteoporosis, or to prevent the bones becoming fragile, such as during space exploration, during ageing, or during long-term immobilisation.
Tell us about a project you are working on now that is top of your to-do list.
Our main project continues to be determining how stem cells do their job to repair tissues.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
My favourite album is a compilation of Frank Sinatra's songs, my favourite film is The Blair Witch Project, and my favourite novel is East Wind, West Wind by Pearl Buck.
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
"If you understand English, press 1. If you do not understand English, press 2."
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
A candlelight dinner with Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Keep going - it's going to be great.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
While practising taekwondo at a very high level in the US, I got an injury that left my right leg paralysed. Unable to walk, I then lost my job. A few years later, I was walking again!
"You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice." - Bob Marley.
What is your favourite place?
A beautiful island with fine sand, clear water, sunshine and an amazing cocktail in a huge, round glass.