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An article from our series:

Which team do you work in and what does that team do?

I work with the Biomarkers team, sat within Discovery – we look for markers of disease or treatment, treatment resistance and any other factor associated with drug discovery and clinical targets.

What’s your role within your team?

I initially started in January as an intern whilst I was finishing my PhD – they kept me on after my internship as a Postdoc.

I do a mix of spatial biology and traditional histology with a bit of computational science, very much a combination of clinical data, histology and bioinformatics.

Was your PhD similar to your role at MDC?

It was similar. My PhD was mostly looking at pancreatic cancer and I was working with clinical tissue, trying to find biomarkers associated with treatment response or patient outcome. There’s quite a bit of overlap, but lots of new stuff.

What did you learn from your internship at MDC?

The internship was strange because after about two months, COVID hit and the lab shut down – we were planning experiments and getting things ready to start some really cool work.

I ended up working at the Lighthouse Lab for a few months and carried on my internship afterwards.

It was great to get some experience of what it’s like working in industry; academia is very different. You work on more projects, rather than one overarching project. It’s the way I prefer to work, I enjoy being exposed to several projects.

Also, the science, there’s lots of cutting-edge equipment at MDC – I got to use and learn how to use the technology when working on projects. I really enjoyed that!

Overall, the internship was a great experience – definitely something I would recommend to others.

What was your role in the Alderley Park Lighthouse Lab?

There are a lot of different stations where each of the testing process is broken down. My role was in the first station, at the very start of the process. The samples get sent in; I would open them up to make sure it’s not leaked, then put them into a 96 well plate to do high throughput testing.

It’s a very different kind of experience being there – it was good to contribute towards that and to help. However, the work you did was very repetitive – you are doing the same assay repeatedly. Whereas, normally in the lab, everything is more varied.

Tell us about any work you’ve done that you’re most proud of.

I am really proud of the outcomes of my PhD–it was a big clinical study looking for biomarkers associated with disease. I ended up finding a biomarker, targeting it and a way that you could use drugs to treat it. By the end, we were talking to clinicians about potentially using it as a treatment.

As scientists, you are very far removed from the actual patients, especially if you’re working with something like cancer. Getting to a point where you can see an impact of your work on an actual patient with a disease is something that’s really rewarding. 

If you could swap your job with anyone in the world, who would you swap with?

When I was a kid, I always wanted to be those people who filmed the nature documentaries like David Attenborough. I used to always watch them with my granddad; it always looked like a really fun job. I imagine in reality, it’s not at all, especially because I don’t like the cold and I don’t like the wet.

I think most of it is just sitting around in a damp stream for hours on end. But… it’s always been something I’ve wanted to try.

Tell us something you like doing outside of work.

I got a new bike for my birthday, so recently I’ve been doing a lot of cycling. And in the last couple years, I’ve been getting into power lifting.

Learn more about our Biomarkers team – meet Emily Offer – Lead Scientist (Biomarkers) to discover how her role at MDC supports our customers and collaborator progress their novel medicines.

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