Dr Samantha Stehbens, UQDI. Research Bio
My research interests are focused the utilisation of live-cell quantitative microscopy to dissect out the complex crosstalk between the cytoskeleton and adhesion in the regulation of cell motility. My graduate work in the lab of Professor Alpha Yap discovered the key role that the microtubule cytoskeleton plays in the regulation of cell-cell contact integrity (Stehbens et al JCS 2006, Ratheesh et al., NCB 2012). Following my PhD, I relocated to one of the world’s premiere cell biology research hubs, the University of California San Francisco to work with Professor Torsten Wittmann, an expert in live-cell spinning disc microscopy whom has made significant contributions to the field of microtubule functions during cell motility. Here I developed unparalleled knowledge of high-resolution microscopy techniques and hardware, working at the cutting edge of imaging advancements. This work was dogma changing and established how the microtubule interacting protein, CLASP, facilitates targeted protease secretion at focal adhesions during epithelial sheet migration to mediate cell-matrix adhesion disassembly, from the inside-out (Stehbens et al., NCB 2014). It includes the first observation of live, directed exocytosis of the matrix protease MT1MMP at focal adhesions.
During my time at UCSF I learnt how to custom design live-cell microscopes and was actively involved in the beta-testing and development of Nikon NIS Elements software, in addition to assisting Professor Wittmann and Dr Jennifer Waters (Nikon Imaging Centre Harvard Medical School Director) with the development and implementation of the Cold Spring Harbor Quantitative Imaging Course. I am a notable contributor in both the cytoskeleton-adhesion biology and microscopy fields with research publications spanning topics from autophagy to neuroscience (Kenific et al., JCB 2016, Huang et al., Nat Neurosci 2016), an invited review on the regulation of focal adhesions by microtubules (Stehbens and Wittmann JCB., 2013) in addition to two microscopy methods chapters on spinning disc microscopy and quantitative imaging. My subsequent work in the lab of Pamela Pollock at QUT IHBI/TRI applied my imaging-based skill set to investigate how activating mutations in fibroblast growth factor receptor 2b (FGFR2b) results in recurrent and aggressive endometrial cancer. This work identified a novel role for FGFR signalling in regulating Golgi morphology and function during migration, 3D acini morphogenesis and invasion. I have recently joined the laboratory of Nikolas Haass at UQDI where I will utilize innovative live-cell SDC imaging and biosensor approaches to understand cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions of melanoma with its microenvironment. My aim is to elucidate the complex mechanisms that govern the cross-talk of cell adhesion and the cytoskeleton during migration and invasion using state-of-the-art spinning disc technology and my expertise in quantitative live-cell imaging.
Abstracts this author is presenting: