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Dr Elspeth (Beth) Payne MBChB PhD

Principal Investigator

I studied medicine at the University of Glasgow, intercalating at University College London in Psychology. I went on to complete my clinical post-graduate training in internal medicine in Oxford and Glasgow, followed by Specialist Haematology Training in London. I undertook my PhD at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston with Professor Tom Look on a T32 training fellowship from Harvard School of Public Health and the Greg Harper Clinical Research Training Fellowship from the LLR-UK (now Blood Cancer UK), studying ribosomal protein mediated disorders using zebrafish. I returned to UCL with a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellowship and Beit-Prize to continue some of this work and currently hold a CRUK Advanced Clinician Scientist Fellowship. I remain clinically active and am clinical lead at University College London Hospital for patients with Bone Marrow Failure and MDS. I also Chair the National Cancer Research Institute study group for MDS and co-lead a clinical study on quality of life in MDS patients. 


Outside of the lab I love to spend time doing power yoga and relaxing with my two young children.


Dr Alexandra Lubin PhD


I studied Natural Sciences at Jesus College at the University of Cambridge, specialising in Chemistry and graduating with my masters in 2014. From there I moved to Imperial College London where I completed my PhD in Chemical Biology ‘Epigenetic therapeutics in malaria – a chemical biological approach towards the validation of histone lysine methyltransferase inhibition in P. falciparum.’

I joined the Payne Lab as a post-doc in 2018. My main project involves developing a high-throughput automated drug screen in live zebrafish embryos, to screen for novel compounds that are synthetic lethal to stem cells that carry mutations that are common in MDS and AML, in particular Dnmt3a.

Outside the lab I enjoy cooking, wine tasting and going on holiday!


Helen Brown



I am a postdoctoral researcher studying Diamond Blackfan Anaemia using zebrafish models. I studied Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry at the University of Oxford before doing my PhD in stem cell signalling in Greg Findlay's lab at the MRC PPU, University of Dundee.


In addition to my research, I am the UCL Pint of Science coordinator, helping share all the exciting science research done at UCL with the general public. Outside of science, I enjoy singing and baking.


Yvette Hoade

Research Technician

Whilst studying Biochemistry at the University of Bath, I took a placement year at the University of Oxford, where I used cell lines to research drug repurposing and combination therapies for cancer. After graduating in 2015, I started work as a technician in the Cross Lab (University of Southampton), based at the Wessex Regional Genetics Laboratory in Salisbury. I developed assays and screened samples from patients with unexplained hypereosinophilia for genetic mutations.


I moved to the Payne Lab in 2018, where I have enjoyed learning about zebrafish and take an active role in lab management and running the Haematology Biobank. As part of my main project I have optimised a semi-automated DNA extraction method and am extracting DNA from thousands of patient samples. This DNA will be sequenced for mutations that occur naturally as part of the ageing process but can predispose patients to ageing related diseases, including leukaemia and cardiovascular disease.


In my spare time, I enjoy baking cakes and playing board games and I am in the process of learning how to sew.  


Catherine Zhu

MRC Clinical Research Fellow


Ellen Nuttall-Musson

MRC Clinical Research Fellow


Katie-Jo Miller

Research Technician

Past lab members


Phoebe Dace

Research Technician


Project: Creating a transgenic zebrafish to model clonal heterogeneity and evolution of MDS.

Now studying for a PhD in Genome Function in the Findlay Lab, Francis Crick Institure

Pic of Emma.jpg

Emma Burman

MPhil Student


Project: cancer and ageing: studying leukaemia & blood stem cell exhaustion in short-lived African killifish

Now working as Viral Vector Research Scientist at Astrea Bioseparations Ltd

PhD students


Dr Catherine Hockings

MRC Clinical Research Fellow

Thesis title: Secondary driver mutations in CEBPA-mutated acute myeloid leukaemia.

Catherine received her PhD in February 2020.


Dr Oscar Peña

PhD student

Thesis title: Modelling haematopoietic malignancies using zebrafish.

Oscar received his PhD in February 2019. 

MSc Students and Destinations














MSc Cancer (UCL): Harsha Bhatnagar - Distinction (PhD student, University of Zurich) 

MSc Human Genetics (Imperial): Nour Halibi - Merit  

MSc Human Genetics (Imperial): Christos Nicolau  

MSc Human Genetics (Imperial): Noreen Khokhar - Distinction (BBSRC LIDO PhD Student,  London ) 

MSc Genetics of Human Disease (UCL): Victoria Deaner - Distinction  

MSc Human Genetics (Imperial): Hanna Lemmik - Distinction (Wellcome Trust PhD Student,  London) 

MSc Human Genetics (Imperial): Laura J Bruce - Distinction (Masters in Public Health and Epidemiology, Rutgers, New York)   

MSc Human Genetics (Imperial): Katrina Stone - Distinction (Clinical Academic, UCL) 

MSc Pharmacogenetics and Stratified Medicine (UCL): Sarah HoangDistinction  

MSc Cancer (UCL): Chianna Umamahesan (PhD - Kings College  London) 

MSc Cancer (UCL): Andrea Michael - Merit (PhD - KIT, Germany ) 

MSc Drug Development (UCL): Youngrock Jung - Distinction (PhD - Imperial, London) 

MSc Human Genetics (Imperial): Ioannis Moustakas - Merit (Medical School, Athens) 

Undergraduate Students



Tiffany Soon – BSc Biological Sciences 2:1 

Ann-Marie Tong – BSc Biochemistry - 1st class (Medical School-Hong Kong) 

Other Alumni





Jasmine Rowell – Research Technician (BBSRC LIDO PhD Student, London)

Greg Contento – Research Technician (MRC PhD Student, UCL)

Greg Pietka – Post-Doc (Research Scientist, Royal Marsden Hospital) 

Maria Virgilio – Research Technician (PhD Student)

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