Q: How long have you been a scientist?
A: I’ve been interested in science for as long as I can remember. I studied Biochemistry at Sheffield University before going on to Glasgow University to complete by PhD in Cell Biology and Biochemistry. I began working with cells at British Columbia University in Canada. I worked at Liverpool University before coming to Lancaster earlier this year.
Q: What is your role?
A: I am studying how cancer cells divide, basically comparing cancer cells and normal cells because if we can find out how that happens we can try to inhibit the process and develop treatments with fewer side effects.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: One of the most significant projects I am involved in is looking into hard to treat cancers, in particular Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Around 10-20% of breast cancers are Triple Negative and the problem has been that we don’t know the growth factors, so we don’t know how and why it grows. My work is to find out how those cells divide and then try to inhibit that growth. Over the past few months we have discovered that there are two specific proteins which are crucial to the growth of this cancer. Now we know this we can start to work on further testing of tissue samples and then developing treatments which target and destroy these proteins which should inhibit the growth of this type of cancer.
Q: How did you feel when your work led to this breakthrough?
A: It’s incredibly exciting to make progress in cancers like this, which are hard to treat. This knowledge really opens up treatment doors for Triple Negative Breast Cancer but it’s also likely other cancers we have previously struggled to treat could be targeted in the same way, so we are now looking at using the same technique with types of eye cancer.
Q: What drives you in your job?
A: The knowledge that the work we are doing here in this lab could have a significant impact on patients and their families.
Q: What do you do outside the lab?
A: I have three children aged 12, 9 and 6. I also love fell running up in the Lake District, and camping in the remote Scottish Highlands.
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