Featured Trainee


Jennifer Carleton


MSc Student, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Collaborative Specialization in Developmental Biology, Western University; Children’s Health Research Institute, Victoria Hospital




Jennifer graduated from the University of Alberta in 2018 with a B.Sc. in Biological Sciences. As an undergraduate researcher she worked to verify subunits of a chromatin remodeling complex involved in neural tube closure. She followed this with a summer research position at the University of Alberta’s Department of Surgery, staining for hypoxic factors in fibrotic bladder tissue. Jennifer joined Dr. Thomas Drysdale’s lab in September 2018 to pursue an M.Sc. in Physiology and Pharmacology with a Collaborative Specialization in Developmental Biology. She is currently researching an actin binding protein called SHROOM3, looking specifically at the morphological consequences of Shroom3 loss during heart development, as well as the functional role of SHROOM3 in postnatal cardiac physiology.

How did you choose your research field?

In the third year of my undergraduate degree, I opted to take a developmental zoology course to fulfill my degree requirements. I found that there was something captivating about the complexity of development, where a multitude of factors working together in a fine-tuned process could produce essential tissue movements and create entire organ systems. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into an undergraduate research position which allowed me to study one molecular aspect of neural tube closure. I knew that I wanted to continue developmental research in a graduate degree and while looking for graduate positions, I found the Drysdale lab. After reading through their work on heart development and chatting with Dr. Drysdale, I decided that this was the next aspect of developmental knowledge that I wanted to contribute to.

What do you like most about working at Children’s Health Research Institute?

As someone who came to London not knowing anyone, I am most appreciative of CHRI’s open lab spaces, the collaborative environment, and the welcoming staff. This supportive and friendly atmosphere has helped me to feel at home during my research.

What is your most successful project at Children’s Health Research Institute?

From recent findings of Shroom3, it appears that the protein has evolved tissue specific and temporally distinct functions. However, this research has been limited as the only SHROOM3 knockout line available was a global knockout. Currently, our lab has established a novel mouse line wherein the Shroom3 gene has been floxed. This new line will allow for conditional knockouts of Shroom3, which will in turn allow for analysis of tissue specific functions that SHROOM3 has developed. We are currently working towards utilizing this line for a cardiac specific knockout.

Research Interests:

1) Establishment of Episcopic Fluorescent Image Capture as an assay for analyzing CHDs in mouse models for CHRI.

2) Differentiating and comparing the function of SHROOM3 during development, in comparison to established models of SHROOM3 function in other morphogenic processes.

3) Identifying the function and interactions of SHROOM3 in the postnatal myocardium and the impact of postnatal Shroom3 loss in the heart.