Dr. Zaucker studied Biology at the University of Karlsruhe (KIT). During a course on vertebrate embryonic development in the lab of Dr. Ferenc Mueller at the Institute of Toxicology and Genetics (ITG) he was introduced to zebrafish model. Fascinated by the power and the beauty of this experimental model Andreas decided to carry out his final year project in the Mueller lab. In his project Andreas tested the possibility to use RNAi for conditional knockdowns in zebrafish, something which cannot be achieved with the standard knockdown tool, morpholinos. In 2006 Andreas received his first degree (Diploma in Biology) from the University of Karlsruhe.
In December 2006 Andreas started a PhD in the Mueller lab. The Mueller lab moved to the University of Birmingham in 2008, and Andreas became a PhD student at the University of Birmingham. In his PhD project Andreas studied the role of TBP-associated factors (TAFs), subunits of the promoter recognition factor TFIID, in early zebrafish development. He found evidence for a differential requirement of TAFs in early development, in line with accumulating evidence for specific functions of TAFs in the literature. This study was funded by the EuTRACC consortium, a 6thframework biomedical research project.
Working in a research environment with focus on genetics of human disease raised Andreas’ interest in the use of zebrafish for biomedical research. A collaboration with the group of Dr. Paul Gissen on VIPAR,a newly identified gene mutated in the metabolic disease ARC syndrome, offered the opportunity to get involved in research using zebrafish for disease modelling. Andreas validated the role of VIPARin biliary development in vivoby knocking down its zebrafish orthologue.
In December 2011 Andreas was awarded a PhD from the University of Birmingham.
In zebrafish there is a substantial contribution of gene products produced during oogenesis to early embryonic development. Dating back to his final year project is Andreas’ interest in studying the function of those maternal factors. To date there is no straight forward tool to interfere with maternal gene function. Andreas was involved in a collaboration on the development of a transplantation protocol for early stage oocytes, which might be further developed into a method to study maternal gene function.
One maternally controlled process is the establishment of polarity in the developing oocyte. From 2011 to 2013 Andreas worked as a Research Fellow in the lab of Dr. Florence Marlow at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York). Dr. Marlow’s lab is interested in the molecular pathways generating oocyte polarity. In her lab Andreas worked on the refinement of methods to study the function of genes in oogenesis and on the role of the notch pathway in the zebrafish ovary.
In April 2014 Andreas joined the lab of Dr Nils Krone at the University of Birmingham where he will generate zebrafish knockout models for components of steroidogenic pathways. Those mutants will be used in compound screens to identify modifiers of the phenotype, hopefully opening up new avenues for the development of therapeutics.