My Lab Essentials: Dr John Parrington, University of Oxford

Discover the lab instruments Dr Parrington couldn't do his research without

7 Jul 2015
Lois Manton-O'Byrne
Executive Editor

Dr John Parrington, Associate Professor at Worcester College, University of Oxford

In the latest in our Lab Essentials series, Associate Professor John Parrington, researcher and lecturer in pharmacology and biology at the University of Oxford, UK, discusses his research on calcium signaling, his new book, and the instruments he couldn't do his research without.

In his lab at Worcester College, Dr Parrington studies the chemical signals that underlie important processes in the body, particularly fertilization. His team recently identified a protein in sperm, PLCzeta that activates the egg to grow into an embryo through calcium signaling. He also showed the protein to affect how the heart contracts and the control of blood sugar.

Through studies on 'knock-out' mice − mice that have had defects engineered in specific genes − Dr Parrington has indicated that defects in the production or expression of PLCzeta may hold the key to understanding human male infertility too, which has already led to some novel IVF therapies. His team is also studying the role of endolysosomes; traditionally, people have thought of the lysosome as the dustbin of the cell. However, his latest work indicates that the lysosome plays an important part in generating calcium signals.

Communicating science

Dr Parrington also has a key interest in popular science and communication of science to the public. In 2012, he was awarded a prestigious Media Fellowship from the British Science Association, beating 170 applications to become one of 10 lucky scientists sent to media outlets such as the BBC. Dr Parrington spent seven weeks with The Times of London and covered the ENCODE project, which indicated that, contrary to popular thought at the time, 80-100% of the genome was in fact functional. The ensuing controversy of this finding inspired him to write The Deeper Genome, which explores what the genome is and how our understanding of it has changed over the years.

He asserts that: “In a democracy, people should be as clued up as they can be about the issues that affect our lives, as they have the responsibility of electing people to parliament.” and continues to promote this through outreach work, most recently at St Barnabas primary school, Oxford.

Here are Dr Parrington's lab essentials:

Innova® Ultra-low Temperature Freezers

Leica DM IL LED tissue culture microscope

GE Healthcare AKTA FPLC

Hybridizer Hybridization Oven HB-1000

Stuart Orbital Incubator

Bio-Rad PowerPac™

Electro-Fast Electrophoresis system

Hermle Microcentrifuge Z233 MK2

Stuart 3D Rocking Platform

Impeen Nano Photometer