Photo:

Louisa Chard

trying to answer all the questions - bear with me!

Favourite Thing: Finishing a big experiment that has worked!

My CV

School:

Bohunt Secondary School (1990-1995); Alton College (1995-1997)

University:

Bath University (1997-2001)

Work History:

Institute for Animal Health, Surrey (where I did my PhD and first post-doctoral position)

Employer:

Queen Marys University of London

Current Job:

Post-doctoral research scientist

Me and my work

Use viruses to create new cancer therapies

I work as a research scientist in the molecular oncology unit at Barts and the London school of Medicine and Dentistry, part of Queen Mary University of London. In my unit, we are trying to develop more effective treatments for many types of cancer, which we hope will work alongside current treatments such as chemotherapy.
Cancer occurs when certain signals inside your cells are damaged. Normally these damaged cells will just die, but sometimes this damage will cause cells to multiply uncontrollably resulting in a mass of cells called a tumour.
Viruses enter the body and infect cells in your body. Inside the cells they multiply as much as they can, then kill the cell to release all the new viruses, which can then go on to infect other cells.
In my research group, we are trying to create viruses that only infect and kill cancer cells. We use viruses that are very safe (like adenovirus, which only causes the common cold) and change them so that they can’t multiply and kill healthy cells, but can multiply and kill cancer cells. It’s still early days, and there is a long way to go to develop an effective treatment, but the results of this type of work so far are very encouraging.

My Typical Day

Work is varied so there is not really a typical day!

One of the nice things about science research is that my work is very varied. My day depends on what experiments I have planned. For example, at the moment, I am trying to grow some of the virus I’ve made so that we have enough to test in cells to see if it can kill tumour cells. First thing in the morning (about 9.30) I will go into our tissue culture room, where we can work with cells and viruses and check to see how well my virus is growing and how pure it is. My new viruses has a gene in it that makes it glow green under the microscope . This way I can have a look at my cells and those that glow green under the microscope are infected, those that aren’t infected don’t glow green. It takes about 3 hours in the morning to check my virus and make sure it is growing well. By then it’s lunchtime, typically about half an hour, but it depends on what I have planned for the afternoon. 2-3 times a week we have meetings that I have to attend. These are usually very interesting as often they involve presentations by my collegues or other scientists about their work. It helps me understand what’s happening in other scientific areas or it can help me come up with ideas for my own work. In the afternoons at the moment I am in my laboratory trying to build a new virus, which can take many months. One nice thing about science as a job is that every day I can be doing different experiments, so I rarely get bored or fed up with my work.

What I'd do with the money

Attend a conference run by the international society for cell and gene therpay of cancer

The international society for cell and gene therpay of cancer runs annual conferences that scientists and doctors can attend. There we can present our work and listen to the research of others in the same field. This is extremely useful for scientists as it allows us to discuss our ideas and results with people who are using similar approaches to cancer therapy. This can speed up our research as people suggest useful ideas for improvements to our experiments, or reasons why certain experiments haven’t worked in the way we had expected. I would use the money to pay for registration, accomodation and travel to this conference, someting that my research budget doesn’t stretch to!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Inquisitive; Shy; Tidy

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Little Boots

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Swimming with Dolphins off the coast of New Zealand [myimage1]

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

To own an antique bookshop; To be able to afford a grand piano – and a trip around the world.

What did you want to be after you left school?

A writer

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Quite a lot!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Got awarded a PhD!

Tell us a joke.

Two elephants fall off a cliff. Boom Boom!