A winding path to genetics
"My journey began with studying biochemistry at Manchester University. As part of my studies I undertook a small research project on ancient DNA. This motivated me to do a Master of Science degree in Molecular and Biological Archaeology at York University. I then looked to get into research, but I really needed lab experience in next generation sequencing. So, I ended up moving back home and working in a metals testing lab in the aviation industry. It was something completely different but great to learn about all the standards that we use for quality control purposes. If you're producing an aircraft part, you want to be sure that it can withstand all the rigours of flight and it’s not going to fail when it’s in the air. So, all the machines had to be calibrated to a certain standard that Rolls Royce and Airbus would dictate… this quality control side and my biological background enabled me to get a position at King’s College Hospital in London where I worked in the Molecular Pathology lab. I did DNA analysis for haemoglobin and different disorders that arose from variances. From there I moved to St George's Hospital in Tooting and then finally to GOSH."
Working at GOSH
"I started at GOSH as a Band 5 Technologist. I'd seen an advert from GOSH and had already heard very good things about the genetics labs in terms of the research and the testing which is carried out there. It's at the forefront of what's being done nationally. So, I started working in the lab as well as performing primary analysis of results.
"From there, I moved to the 100,000 Genome project team at GOSH. I was seconded to that for a year, and six months in, a full-time position arose, and I was successful in securing it. I now work in the breast cancer and ovarian cancer screening, and colorectal cancer screening and cancer pre-symptomatic testing team."
The culture at GOSH
"GOSH is fast-paced and energetic. We're a busy lab with lots of samples, but there are fantastic resources to help us with the job in hand. There's lots of experience and a wealth of knowledge here, and there is a willingness to train staff internally. Everyone is willing to help and share their knowledge and experience. We do testing for other Trusts nationally and internationally. We also work in close contact with Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health researchers as well. They explore new ways of testing which are converted into a diagnostic service.
"Advice I can pass on would be this: Take every opportunity to gain experience. Patience is important and not everything is going to come at once, so keep going."
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