Leeds Uni, 1998-2002; Nottingham Uni. 1994-1998
BSc Biology, MSc Oncology, PhD Biochemistry
University of Manchester since 2001 (and various summer and part-time jobs)
Lecturer and Mass Spectrometry Lead
Central Manchester NHS Foundadtion Trust
Research into diabetes and dementia – looking at what goes wrong and how we can put it right.
My job is quite varied, but the main things that I do are:
Research. My research group focuses on measuring the levels of proteins in biological samples such as tissue or blood, and looking to see which ones change in disease. The idea is that by seeing what changes, we can see how the disease develops and use this information either to help diagnose disease, predict how a disease will progress (e.g. whether it will get worse quickly, or whether a person will respond well to a certain medicine), or find targets for new medicines that reverse these changes. We have projects in diabetes, dementia and heart failure at the moment. My role is really in managing these projects, designing and planning the experiments to make sure they give us the information that we need, analysing the results of the experiments and trying to help work out what they mean. Some of these experiments are done by students studying for a PhD so I will spend time ‘training’ them in the scientific methods that we use and how and why to interpret their results properly. A lot of our work is done with other scientists, so I will also spend a lot of time with them learning about what they do and deciding whether by joining forces we can help their research. Oh, and when equipment breaks in the lab I’m often roped in to try and help fix it!
Writing. Once projects are complete and we have some new information, we write up our experiments to be published so that people cam see what we have done, why, how and what we found. I also have to plan new studies and write applications for grants, either from medical charities or from the government, to try and get the money we need to do new projects, or extend existing ones.
Teaching. As well as teaching students to research in our laboratories, I also give a few lectures as part of degree courses at the University, mostly on proteins and disease.
Public engagement. I think it’s important that scientists cam communicate with non-scientists and explain what we are doing and why, and enthuse non-scientists with an understanding of what we do. After all, our discoveries could impact everyone. So I spend a bit of time talking to non-scientists or school pupils, including events like this one!
My Typical Day
Busy. Meeting other scientists, planning projects and teaching students in the laboratory.
I’m not too sure their is such thing as a typical day. However, most often the things I would do are to come into the office and check e-mails, perhaps reading about any new research which has been published which is relevant to our work. I will go and meet with the people in my lab to see how their work is going and check they don’t have any problems. This can take anything between 10 minutes and three hours, depending on their answer! At the moment I’m spending a lot of my time analysing a large set of results, but I will break for meetings with other scientists or students to talk about their work. We also give presentations about some of the work we are doing on a fairly regular basis so I’m often in powerpoint making or checking slides. When a paper or a grant are due in, my focus is on getting those completed on time, so it’s usually days in Word or making figures which present our results for other people to see.
What or who inspired you to follow this career?
Probably me – I’ve just always followed what i enjoyed doing and this is where I ended up
What advice would you give someone who wants to be in the same career as you?
Work hard but enjoy it.
What do you see as your next step in your career?
What other sorts of jobs can you do with your qualifications?
Journalism, science/medical writing, teaching
What's the best part of your current job?
Best part is definately when an experiment finishes and we find something new. For that moment, or day, or even week, my group are the only people in the world to know that particular thing – which feels great!
What don't you like about your current job?