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An article from our series:

What do you do when you’re not working at the Lighthouse Labs?

I am a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute and at the University of Manchester.

How many years of scientific experience do you have?

I have been in my current position at the University of Manchester for 2 years, prior to that, I completed my MSc and PhD at the University of Leeds.

What is your role in the Lighthouse Lab?

My job is to unpack and check the patient samples, scan them, and de-activate the live virus ready for an automated RNA extraction step.

What is the key experience you bring to that role?

I am used to handling human blood / plasma samples and often perform RNA and DNA extractions in my day-to-day research.

How is it different to your regular role?

My postdoctoral research merges nano-medicine and cancer research where I am trying to utilise nano-materials to enhance the discovery and detection of cancer biomarkers in patient blood samples. Despite not working with viruses, we follow strict guidelines in the lab to ensure samples do not become contaminated, so I am used to this working environment.

Why did you want to get involved?

This pandemic has changed the lives of people worldwide and will continue to do so, long into the future. My mum is among the most vulnerable, after receiving a stem cell transplant as part of her ongoing cancer treatment. Therefore, this crisis has hit very close to home, as I am sure it has for so many people. I was very keen to use my experience and do my bit to help support the country (in any way I could) through this difficult time.

What does it mean to you to be involved?

It means a great deal to be able to help with the national COVID-19 testing effort. I am acutely aware that each test that passes through my hands belongs to a person, whose life will be directly affected by the result we provide. I am just glad to be able to help make this happen!

What is it like working alongside a host of new colleagues from both industry and academia?

It has been very interesting to hear the backgrounds of all the volunteers, some of whom have travelled from other parts of the country to help meet the growing demand for testing. Everyone has been working so hard and it has been inspiring to see the progress that the Lighthouse Lab has made over such a short time.

What is the best thing about working in the Lighthouse Lab?

It has been great to work people from both industry and academia, who have come together with a common goal to increase the testing capacity and to help get the UK back on track ASAP!

“I am acutely aware that each test that passes through my hands belongs to a person, whose life will be directly affected by the result we provide. I am just glad to be able to help make this happen!”

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