All the news that was fit to post:


October 2018 – Awards, Updates, and New lab members!


The Hamdoun Lab. Back row, left to right: Jose Espinoza, David Vereau-Gorbitz, Travis Fleming, Dr. Sascha Nicklisch. Front row, left to right: Hannah Rosenblatt, Dr. Cat Schrankel, Dr. Amro Hamdoun, Dr. Vic Vacquier, Wei Gordon, Amara Pouv, Kate Nesbit, and former members Dr. Joe Campanale, Dr. Lauren Shipp, and Dr. Tufan Gokirmak.


It was a great summer for the Hamdoun Lab. First and foremost, we are proud to announce that former Postdoc Sascha Nicklisch is starting a tenure-track Faculty position at the University of California, Davis, in Environmental Toxicology this fall! Pictured above is his goodbye BBQ–we wish him the best of luck starting his new lab.


This summer, Postdoc Cat Schrankel received a prestigious Ruth Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the NIH. She is funded for three years to study the role of ABC transporters in the development and protection of primordial germ cells (PGCs) that are destined to become egg or sperm.


Undergraduate Travis Fleming was also successful in receiving research funding, from the Ledell Family Scholarship for Science and Engineering, part of UCSD’s Academic Enrichment Program. Travis is optimizing culturing methods for larval sea urchins, a crucial step for generating transgenic lines of echinoderms.


Finally, the Hamdoun Lab is happy to welcome our newest member, Postdoc Himanshu Vyas. Himanshu comes from a zebrafish toxicology background, and will be working on CRISPR/Cas9 mediated knockdown and compensatory mechanisms of ABC transporters. 



July 2018 – New publication update


The Hamdoun lab recently published a review on Sea Urchins as Lab Animals for Reproductive and Developmental Biology. This article is part of the newest edition of the Encyclopedia of Reproductive Biology. The full text can be found in our publications page. 



March 2018 – Hamdoun Lab Member Accomplishments – Admissions and Awards!



It’s been a busy start to the year for the Hamdoun Lab. In early March, Postdocs Sascha Nicklisch and Cat Schrankel attended the 7th FEBS Special Meeting on ABC Proteins with Dr. Hamdoun, located at Innsbruck, Austria. Their talks and posters were very well-received. Dr. Schrankel (left) won the prize for best Poster Bulletin Talk for her short but stimulating presentation (3 min max!) on ABC patterning during development. Her prize was a stunt plane ride above the breathtaking Alps.


Meanwhile, undergraduates Wei Gordon (centre) and Hannah Rosenblatt (right) completed graduate school interviews. We are very proud to announce that come September 2018, Wei will be attending the University of California, San Francisco, and Hannah will be attending Stanford University! Congrats to our trainees for these important accomplishments.



September 2017 – More POPs in the news



Our latest study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, examined persistent organic pollutant levels (POPs) in yellowfin tuna from around the world’s oceans. The results indicate that the pollutant load depends on the location of catch, varying in level by as much as 36 times between sites. We also found that overall pollutant levels are positively linked to the presence of a small subset of pollutants, termed Transporter Interfering Chemicals or TICs. This new class of chemicals may be involved in enhancing bioaccumulation of chemicals in organisms by inhibiting cellular defense proteins. This research lays the groundwork for future studies to examine natural and anthropogenic sources of these chemicals, and to examine how pollutant distribution and bioaccumulation patterns change over time, particularly under rapidly changing climate conditions.


You can read additional news coverage about our study at EHP, the LA Times and NPR. Congrats Dr. Nicklisch!


July 2017 – Update on Recent Publications


Three new lab publications are available: Dr. Sascha Nicklisch’s study on mercury levels in yellowfin tuna (Environmental Pollution 2017), Dr. Gökirmak’s work on alternative splicing in the sea urchin MRP gene ABCC1 (AmJPhysCell 2016), and collaborators’ Ramakrishnan and Patel characterization of ADP-ribosyl cyclases in early sea urchin development (Messenger 2016)! 





Dr. Catherine Schrankel

May 2017 – Welcome to Dr. Catherine Schrankel


This month we welcomed the newest member of our lab, Dr. Catherine Schrankel, all the way from Toronto, Canada. She will be studying ABC transporters in the gut and immune system of the sea urchin.





Dr. Sascha Nicklisch

March 2017 – Congrats to Dr. Sascha Nicklisch 


Congratulations to Hamdoun Lab postdoc Dr. Sascha Nicklisch for being honored at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting for Best Postdoctoral Publication. The award and study were featured at the NIEHS’ Environmental Factor Newsletter.







June 2016-  Drug transporter evolution.


Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 8.02.41 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-21 at 8.01.52 PM





MRP transporters are an important  group of transporters that translocate both signaling molecules and toxicants.  Interestingly certain types of MRP transporters are only found in vertebrates but not invertebrates.  Our recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology, Cell Physiology reveals that sea urchins can diversify the functions of MRP proteins by alternative splicing of transmembrane regions that bind the transporter’s substrates.


April 2016- “TICs” in our food.


IMG_0902Our recent study published in Science Advances reveals unanticipated effects of persistent organic pollutants  on the mouse and human homologs of a critical cellular defense protein called P-glycoprotein (P-gp). The results indicate that these pollutants bind specifically to P-gp but inhibit the protein’s function rather than being transported by it. These Transporter Interfering Chemicals (TICs) could weaken this cellular defense pathway. The study was led by Hamdoun lab Postdoc. Dr. Sascha Nicklisch and covered by Time and the The Independent UK. (Photo by Lindsay Bonito)





September 2015- MRP5 in cyclic nucleotide signaling.



Recent research led by PhD Student Lauren Shipp reveals that the functions of of previously poorly understood drug transporter could include the transport of signaling molecules necessary for development. In this study Shipp and co-authors show that the sea urchin MRP5 is likely to play an important role in cyclic nucleotide signaling events necessary for completing gastrulation. You can read more about the results at this feature in Science Signaling.






Summer 2015: Oncofertility Academy featured on CBS News 8.

For the last 6 years the Hamdoun lab students has participated in the Oncofertility Academy which introduces high school girls about research in reproduction and oncology. This year CBS News came out to see what we were up to and talk to lab undergrad Hannah Rosenblatt and Grad Student Lauren Shipp. Check it out HERE.


Hamdoun Lab students teach Birch Aquarium visitors about fertilization and development:


Hannah Rosenblatt, Jose Espinoza, and Lauren Shipp participated in Birch Aquarium’s EGGstravaganza! They brought sea urchin eggs, sperm, and embryos to allow visitors to watch fertilization and development under the microscope.








Graduate students recognized for research:

Lauren Shipp earned the Best Student Talk award at the Society for Developmental Biologists West Coast Meeting in Yosemite. The prize is a trip to present at the SDB national meeting in Utah in July.

Joseph Campanale was honored by the American Association of Anatomists with the Young Anatomists Publication Award for his Developmental Dynamics paper below. He will receive his award at the annual meeting in Boston.


Latest pubs:

Campanale et al. published a study on small micromere migration in Developmental DynamicsJoe's micromere cover

Campanale JP1, Gökirmak T, Espinoza JA, Oulhen N, Wessel GM, Hamdoun A. Migration of sea urchin primordial germ cells. Dev Dyn. 2014 Jul;243(7):917-27. 


September 2014:

“Transport in technicolor” check out the article in Molecular Reproduction and Development – and the cover image below.

Image shows embryos expressing fluorescent urchin ABCB1 (GFP), ABCC1 (YFP), ABCC9 (CHRY) and ABCG2 (CFP).

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.37.15 AM


July 2014: On a hot summer Friday, the Hamdoun lab went kayaking as a group in La Jolla. We  were given a tour of the coast of La Jolla, exploring the coves or diving in the ocean to observe the indigenous critters.

We cooled off with drinks and snacks at La Jolla Brewing Company.

June 2014: Hamdoun Lab at AAAS Pacific Division in Riverside. Amro and Tony DeTomaso (UCSB) organized the first “Marine Cell Biology Symposium”. Look for future installments here on the left coast!   You can check out the abstracts here:

Congratulations to Lauren, Joe and Rose for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place student talk and poster awards in Molecular Reproduction and Development at AAAS. A sweep!



June 2014: Our article on the cover of Developmental Dynamics. Read More about it at Erin Campbell’s excellent microscopy blog “HighMag”

September  2013: As summer is coming to an end, we are just beginning to gear up for another great spawning season.


Dr. Tufan Gokirmak was honored as one of the top six postdoctoral scholars at UCSD by the UCSD Postdoctoral Association.  At their annual Postdoctoral Research Symposium, Tufan spoke about his work on using evolutionary principles to guide substrate binding affinity studies in multidrug transporters. Here is Tufan in front of his title slide and getting the audience geared up for what was a great talk.



Dr. Sascha Nicklisch traveled to the NCI at Fredrick, MD to the 10th Annual North American ABC Meeting. Sascha’s talk on the interaction of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) with the MDR1 transporter was recognized as the best talk of the meeting by the French Society for Physiology. He is on the far left of the photo.



Lauren Shipp and Joseph Campanale were recognized for their achievements both in the lab and in the classroom by the ARCS Foundation (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists), which seeks to advance our nations competitiveness in the world by supporting promising young scientists. Lauren and Joseph have been named ARCS Scholars. The San Diego ARCS chapter includes students with exceptional talent from UCSD, The Scripps Research Institute, SDSU and USD.




New vector set made by T. Gokirmak is now publicly available for cloning fluorescently labeled large fragments.

In recent months, we have received quite a few requests for our variants of these pCS2 vectors, called pCS2+8, that we used for screening sea urchin ABC transporters for localization and activity (Gokirmak et al. 2012). These vectors differ from the original pCS2+ by inclusion several relatively rare 8-cutters (AscIPacIFseI, and AsiSI) in the cloning site (for insertion of large genes) and by having been modified so that N and C terminal variants of eGFP, Cerulean, mCherry, mCitrine can easily be generated (for multicolor experiments). Since this vector set could be useful for many types of localization and functional screens, we have deposited the entire vector set at Addgene (a non-profit plasmid repository).

If you would like these plasmids, Addgene will send them to you individually ( or as a full set (

More information on their use can be found in the publication above. If you have any further questions, or just want to tell us if they have been useful in your species/cell, please contact Tufan Gokirmak,


Rose Hill and Jose Espinoza present papers at the 26th Annual Undergraduate Research Conference at UCSD.

On April 27, 2013, Rose and Jose both gave 15 minute talks on their undergraduate research projects in the Hamdoun laboratory. Rose gave an overview of her exciting work on characterizing the expression of ABCC5a in sea urchin development using qPCR and western blots. Jose wowed attendees with beautiful micrographs of sea urchin small micromeres. Both also enjoyed breakfast with Chancellor Khosla! Good job guys!

Paper published in Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Localization and substrate selectivity of sea urchin multidrug (MDR) efflux transporters.

To read more, the citation for this article is: Gokirmak T, Campanale JP, Shipp LE, Moy GW, Tao H, Hamdoun A. Localization and substrate selectivity of sea urchin multidrug (MDR) efflux transporters. J Biol Chem. 2012 Nov 2. [Epub ahead of print].



The Hamdoun Lab goes to Woods Hole, MA for the Developmental Biology of the Sea Urchin (DBSU XXI) meeting.


DBSUXXI 2012, Woods Hole, MA

In October 2012, members of the Hamdoun Lab traveled to Woods Hole, MA to present at the Developmental Biology of the Sea Urchin meeting.  Amro, Tufan, Lauren, Joe, and former lab member Kristen all gave oral presentations that were very well received. The meeting wrapped up just in time for everyone to escape Hurricane Sandy, and all lab members are safe and sound back on the west coast!


Paper published in Molecular Biology of the Cell.

Actin polymerization controls the activation of multidrug efflux at fertilization by translocation and fine-scale positioning of ABCB1a on microvilli.

To read more, the citation for this article is: Whalen K, Reitzel AM, Hamdoun A. Actin polymerization controls the activation of multidrug efflux at fertilization by translocation and fine-scale positioning of ABCB1 on microvilli. Mol Biol Cell. 2012 Sep;23(18): 3663-72.

Click the picture to see the video


Image from Campanale et al. is published on Development cover!



The September 1, 2012 issue of Development featured a beautiful image taken by Joe Campanale and his co-authors, Aracely Lutes and Stephanie Majkut! They captured the image of a pilidium larva of the nemertean ribbon worm Cerebratulus lacteus at the 2011 Woods Hole MBL Embryology Course. The larva is stained for F-actin (green, phalloidin), acetylated tubulin (red) and with DAPI (blue, nuclei). Congratulations to Joe!



Paper published in Developmental Dynamics.

ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter expression and localization in sea urchin development.

To read more, the citation for this article is: Shipp LE, Hamdoun A. (2012) ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter expression and localization in sea urchin development. Developmental Dynamics 241 (6); 1111-1124.


The Hamdoun Lab goes to Europe for the FEBS-ABC2012 meeting.

Hamdoun Lab in Innsbruck, Austria


In March 2012, four planes, two trains, and an automobile ride brought the Hamdoun Lab to the 4th FEBS Special Meeting on ABC transporters in Innsbruck, Austria.  Posters by Tufan (presented by Amro), Joe, and Lauren, and a talk by Kristen were all well received, helping to establish the sea urchin as an important model system in the ABC transporter field. Congrats to Kristen and Joe for receiving 2012 Young Investigator Awards by the ABC transporter committee for their research!



Paper published in Development.

Programmed reduction of ABC transporter activity in sea urchin germline progenitors.

To read more, the citation for this article is: Campanale JP, Hamdoun A (2012) Programmed reduction of ABC transporter activity in sea urchin germline progenitors. Development 139:783–792.



High school intern Julia Roche presents her research in Washington D.C. in September!



A look back at Summer 2011…

Summer 2011 brought four undergraduates and one high school student to the lab. These included Saloni Mehta, an NSF supported SURF REU student from the University Maryland who studied the effects of mercury on ABC transporter gene expression. Kazuya Koda, who graduated this past year, finished his project on the effects of parthenogenetic egg activation on organization of the actin cytoskeleton. Amber Merrill, a student in Amro’s Environment and Health class, worked on developing methods to isolate small micromeres (germ cells). Rose Hill, a second year UCSD student, began working with Lauren on looking at ABC transporter gene expression. Finally, we hosted Kelly Doran, a graduating high school senior from Palo Alto, who worked with Joe on small micromere efflux transport.





Kristen Whalen receives Best Poster Award.

Kristen was awarded the Best Poster Award at the Developmental Biology of Sea Urchin Meeting XX (2011) in Woods Hole, MA.  Her poster was entitled “Just a few microns can make all the difference: implications of membrane reorganization on multidrug efflux activity at fertilization.”




Hamdoun Lab receives gift from Krinsk Initiative.


Marcy Krinsk pledged a generous gift in support of student and postdoc research on sea urchins.





Scripps Postdoc program gets a boost.


Postdoc Kristen Whalen was awarded the SIO Sempra Postdoctoral Fellowship.  Learn more about the Postdoctoral Program here at Scripps.  SIO was also listed as one of the “Top Spots for Postdocs” by The Scientist Magazine.




Come see what we’ve been up to.

Members of the lab will be attending the Developmental Biology of Sea Urchin Meeting in Woods Hole, MA on April 26, 2011




Members of the lab will also be attending the Pollution Response in Marine Organisms Meeting in Long Beach, CA on May 14, 2011




Hamdoun Lab graduate students receive prestigious research fellowships.



Lauren Shipp is awarded a 2010 National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship!





Joseph Campanale is awarded a 2010 EPA STAR fellowship!




Lauren Shipp receives a 2010 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship!


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