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Gabriel is a veterinarian who has largely set aside clinical practice in order to apply his physiology training to scientific research. He is primarily interested in how cellular responses to biologically relevant mechanical stimuli drive and shape tissue structure. He developed this interest during his PhD in skeletal mechanobiology, but after a brief postdoctoral period he expanded his research to embryonic morphogenesis, which is the developmental period when organ structure is established.
His current work, funded by a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Research Training Fellowship for Clinicians, is delineating the cellular- and tissue-level biomechanics of mammalian neural tube closure. The neural tube is the embryonic precursor of the central nervous system, and its formation has served as a paradigm of morphogenesis. Defects in its formation lead to severe neurodevelopmental disorders, such as spina bifida. It is hoped that a unified biomechanical understanding of neural tube formation will help explain why this process fails in around 1 in 1,000 pregnancies.