Silvia Santos
Group Head

silvia new


Silvia (aka Silvi) is the head of the Quantitative Cell Biology lab. Originally from Portugal, Silvia did her undergrad in the Uk, PhD in Systems Biology at the EMBL, Heidelberg and her post-doc at Stanford University, USA.

In the lab

Silvia’s long term passion has been to understand spatial-temporal control principles during cell decision-making. The lab focuses on two important cellular decisions: cell fate commitment and cell division. Silvia still escapes to the lab as much as she can. She was the chair for mentorship at Imperial and is committed to promote excellent training and mentorship for post-docs and students. She is an advocate of women in science and diversity.

Superpowers: enthusiasm, story telling and golden hands for experiments

Outside of the lab: Everything artsy. Dance. Yoga

Personality: “DEBATER”:   ENTP-T

Group Members

Lidia Perez

Senior Laboratory Research Scientist

Lidia, SLRS


Originally from Spain, Lidia studied Biology in her home country before working in a Biotech company in the USA. Back to Europe, Lidia gained extensive experience as a lab manager having worked in developmental biology lab at the NIMR in London, EMBL in Heidelberg and more recently at the IRB in Barcelona.

In the lab

Lidia has joined the QCB lab in September 2018 as a senior laboratory research scientist. Besides managing the lab and contributing to several lab projects Lidia in interested in understanding the interplay between cell division in differentiation using human embryonic stem cells as a model system

Superpowers: To make hard things possible with unfailing optimism

Outside of the lab

She likes to do outside activities, hiking, skating, sailing and specially traveling. When inside she likes reading and to do yoga.



Alexandra (aka Alix) Gunne-Braden

PhD Student



Originally Irish, Alix joined the Quantitative Cell Biology group as a PhD student in 2014. She completed her BSc in Biology at Imperial College London, after which she worked as a research technician at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology, UCL.

In the lab

Alix’s interests lie in how cells decode cues from their environment in order to commit to a specific cell fate. In particular, how an embryonic stem cell makes the fundamental decision to differentiate.

Superpower: Lab’s PR. The Eternal Optimist

Outside of the lab

Outside of the lab, Alix has an unquenchable hunger for travel and is always on the hunt for somewhere new to explore. 

Personality:  ENTREPRENEUR:   ESTP-A

Oliver (aka Ollie) Inge

PhD Student

Ollie, PhD student


Originally from England, Ollie has just finished  his BSc in Biology from Imperial College London, with a placement year at the Institute of Cancer Research. Ollie is a local.

In the lab

Ollie joined the QCB family in September 2018 as part of the Crick PhD program. His PhD will focus on understanding how human embryonic stem cells integrate a variety of environmental signals in order to commit to specific fates.  

Superpower: human sat-nav

Outside the lab

Outside the lab Ollie enjoys nothing more than playing guitar, painting and travelling to far-flung destinations. 

Personality: CAMPAIGNER “ENFP, -A/-T” (PS: maybe)

Borzo Gharibi

Postdoctoral fellow



Originally from Iran, Borzo did his PhD at Cardiff University School of Medicine and his first post-doc at king’s College London. He has a broad interests within the field of stem cells. His research has developed to focus on the interaction of extracellular cues with intracellular signal pathways and transcription networks in regulation of stem cell fate determination.

In the lab

He is currently trying to understand how cell cycle networks remodel during embryonic to somatic transition. Amongst many other projects.

Superpowers: Wolverine of research. Eternal source of mottos and general wisdom

Outside of the lab

Outside of the lab, he tries to relax. But typically doesn’t.

Personality: THE ARCHITECT:  “INTJ-A”

Nuria Folguera-Blasco

Postdoctoral fellow

Nuria, Postdoc


Nuria is originally from Barcelona. She graduated in Mathematics from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and then moved to the University of Bath for her MSc, where she specialised in Mathematical Biology. She moved back to her home town for a PhD in Mathematics at Centre de Recerca Matemàtica (CRM). Her thesis work focused on stochastic modelling of epigenetic regulation and its implications for cellular plasticity.

In the lab
Nuria joined the QCB lab in Sept 2019. She loves applying Mathematics to biological questions, specially those with an impact on people’s health. In the QCB lab, Nuria will be trying to understand from a theoretical perspective spatial and temporal control during cell cycle remodelling and cell fate decisions, using single cell data. Nuria has a passion for teaching and feels happy when able to help to others. She will soon be taking part of many of the teaching and outreach opportunities the Crick Institute offers.
Superpowers: Human calculator. A believer of the sandpile model: small contributions, can make a huge difference.

Outside of the lab 

Outside the lab Nuria loves swimming (which she does every day), listening to music and enjoys watching sports. She is a FC Barcelona football supporter

Personality The DEFENDER “ISFJ-T”

Adrienne Sullivan

Postdoctoral fellow

Adrienne, Post-doc


Adrienne completed her PhD in 2016 at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, studying the function and regulation of bHLH PAS transcription factors in tumourigenesis and hyperphagic obesity. She is generally interested in the molecular networks that determine cell behaviour, and

In the lab

During her post-doc she hopes to acquire new skills in live cell imaging and network modelling to investigate cellular fate commitment.

Superpowers: Doodling, reaching things in high places, lab’s “SR” (STPs PR)

Outside of the lab 

Outside of the lab she enjoys reading, travel, wine, and painting. She is powered by cups of tea.

Personality: “ADVOCATE:   INFJ-T”

Joe Padgett, PhD student

Joe, PhD student


Joe completed his BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Bristol with a placement year at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg. In the Ellenberg lab Joe was working on the molecular assembly of nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) using fluorescent microscopy.

In the lab

Join joined the QCB family in September 2018 as part of the Crick PhD program. For his PhD, Joe is continuing his adventures with microscopy. He is interested in understanding cell cycle remodelling during differentiation of human embryonic stem cells and is passionated about imaging and image analysis.

Superpowers: Controls the universe with lists!

Outside of the lab 

Joe loves travelling. He is currently volunteering in Vietnam and Silvia wonders if he will ever come back to start his PhD


Personality: “ADVOCATE:   INFJ-T”

Admin Contact

Ms. Harriette Burt



Helen  is born and brought-up in London.Her family is originally from Madeira, Portugal. Joined MRC in 2002 and is one of the longest serving members in the admin team.  Excels at dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s. Outside of work, likes to relax, dance and have occasional drinks.


Super powers: amazing at everything she does

Contact Details
Telephone: +44(0)20–331–38336

Lab Alumni

Ana Rita Araujo, PhD student 2014-2018

Chiara Borghi, MPhil student 2016-2018, now research assistant at Cambridge University, UK

Rahuman Sheriff, Post-doctoral fellow 2014-2017, now team leader at EMBL-EBI, Hixton, Cambridge, UK

Nadrah Ali, MSc student 2017, now PhD student at Kings College London, UK

Mindaugas Jonikas, Short-term Research assistant 2015,  now PhD student at Oxford University, UK

Fabian Enders (Visiting student Internship 2016; now BSc student at Hans Buckler Berufskolleg, Marl, Germany)

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