My placement year at Leica Biosystems

By Alexandra Lazarova

A placement with a Cancer Diagnostics company – yes please!

I’m studying BSc Biomedical Genetics with Professional Placement Year and knew I wanted to do a placement year since my first year of university, when I attended a placement talk given by several companies. A year and a half later, after applying to several companies, I found myself in an interview for a placement year at Leica Biosystems in Newcastle…and ended up getting the position!

Leica Biosystems: Advancing Cancer Diagnostics

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My Summer Travels with Cryptosporidium

By Rosie Gathercole

Working with poo turned out to be exactly the summer experience I wanted!

I worked at the national Cryptosporidium Reference Unit (CRU) at Public Health Wales in Swansea with Professor Rachel Chalmers and her team. I received a Scholarship from the Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM) for this placement, writing the application together with Rachel.

Rosie with a computer screen behind her showing the live spectra produced by the mass spec machine
Me working on my summer placement

Cryptosporidium is a parasite that causes diarrhoea, is found globally and is typically passed from animals, other people, food and fresh water sources. It is currently a human health issue due to the significant effect it has in developing countries and the lack of specific treatments to fight the parasite. Quite often how well you recover from the illness depends on how healthy you were to begin with!

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Transitioning from NUMed to Newcastle

By Dania Hammadi

It’s bigger, bolder, brighter.

That’s how I would describe my experience transitioning to Newcastle University from NUMed. Life is pretty similar; people are friendly, the teaching is amazing, the city is as beautiful as home. The only difference is that these things are all bigger, bolder, and brighter here in the U.K. And I’m definitely not complaining!

The red bricks of Newcastle University's Armstrong building looking glorious in the sun
The red bricks of Newcastle University’s Armstrong building looking glorious in the sun

The move from Malaysia was definitely a tough one. I grew up in Penang, an island just northwest off mainland Malaysia, and this was the only home I’d known. Moving 10-hours away to Johor to start my degree in Biomedical Sciences was scary enough, but NUMed turned to be a home away from home. We’re such a small, tight-knitted community, and on campus we could bond in ways students in a larger university wouldn’t be able to.

“Choosing to begin my studies at NUMed has been the best decision I’ve ever made!”

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The day I was asked to poison someone

By Dr Sarah Judge

When I got a phone call out of the blue from a screenwriter for Hollyoaks, the popular Channel 4 TV programme, asking for help with one of their upcoming stories, I was intrigued.

Why ask me, a scientist at Newcastle University, for help?

Top secret

I wasn’t allowed to know who, but the screenwriter wanted me to poison and kill off one of the soap characters.

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NuMED to Newcastle – Back to the UK… After 7 years!

“Things don’t change. We change.”

By Sabrina Amran, Third Year Biomedical Sciences student

Flatmates and I (in middle) visiting (and posing!) the med school for the first time!

The UK was a lot different in my childhood memories compared to how I see it as of now. 

Sure, ‘Wilkinsons’ became ‘Wilko’, and everything was a couple pounds cheaper 7 years ago. The weather now seemed sunnier and hotter as well…but I’m not sure how long this will last.

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Like to learn more about the exciting field of immunology?

By Gemma Vidal-Pedrola (3rd PhD student)

Join Immunology North East (for free!) to get involved in the immunology happening around you and in the world.

Immunology North East: you can’t have a society without a banner can you?

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5 top tips to improve your mental health at uni

By Ruth Harding, second year Biomedical Science student

I had a difficult time at home before I started at Newcastle university and I found that I was struggling to cope at points during my first year.

These are my top 5 tips to help improve your mental health while at university based on my personal experiences:

1. Access support

There is plenty of support available at uni, the first thing to do when you feel you are experiencing difficulties is to access the support that is available to you as soon as you possibly can.

I found the transition from sixth form to university to be a challenge especially when I was battling poor mental health at the same time. The university support I found to be the most helpful was my personal tutor and the student services team (student wellbeing). There is also an online CBT programme available to all Newcastle students here. There are also useful links and tips on the Ncl wellbeing app.

Family and friends form an important support network while at uni – me, Hannah and Cornelius.

As well as university support I encourage you to build a wider network, I do not think I would have got through the year without the support of my friends, and family.

Try a society or a sports team or Go volunteer!

I feel it was very important for me to share what I was going through with people I trusted as it made me feel less alone. There is more information on the university support available here Continue reading “5 top tips to improve your mental health at uni”

So your immune system’s an overachiever; what I’m doing about it during my placement at GSK

By Emma McCarthy

Hey, it finally worked!

I look at the screen and smile. After an intensive six-hour lab session involving lots of careful pipetting, I’m ecstatic that the experiment I’ve spent weeks on has succeeded at last.

At the moment, I’m based in a biology research unit at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies on the planet. I’ve been on placement here for over nine months; I still can’t quite believe it some days.

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Barclays Local Genius Success

Newcastle University student, John Cornilious, wins regional final of Barclays Local Genius

John Cornilious is a final year Biomedical Sciences student who presently holds the role of Student Enterprise Ambassador for the School of Biomedical Sciences. He has been undertaking various entrepreneurship activities both on and off-campus. Recently, John entered the Barclays Local Genius (BLG) competition with his charity concept; Pamba Pedu. BLG is a platform for student entrepreneurs with tech-based and socially responsible ideas throughout the U.K. to receive professional training and compete for experienced mentorship and potential funding.

Pamba Pedu means “Our house” in Shona, a common language in Zimbabwe. The concept is a digital platform that will enable victims of domestic violence to find free overnight accommodation whenever they do not feel safe. Organisations of faith, hotels and registered foster parents (to name a few) can register their rooms in a volunteer capacity on the platform. Victims will be able to view these options and select suitable refuge based on factors such as distance. The mobile App will also be a comprehensive directory of available resources, including counselling, and network for support with other   victims.

In the regional heats, held in Radbroke, there were six teams. The range of ideas pitched to the judging panel of senior Barclays staff and external entrepreneurs, were diverse, each tackling very different problems. Amongst the competitors were projects such as CharityPick; a mobile application that lets you search for a cause which matters to you and find local charities engaging in that cause – a trivago for charities. It is mutually beneficial as it gives a voice to local charities struggling to create awareness and visibility, and empowers the donors to choose the right charity for them and donate flexibly. Another project was Stooswap: a platform allowing students to swap their rooms on a temporary basis. For example, if a student from Manchester is travelling to London and another student from London is travelling to Manchester in the same period, Stooswap connects the two students so they both get a free place to stay. This way the student community has another avenue for enhancing connection and social experience through travel with no accommodation cost.

John, pictured with the other BLG teams.

The participants concurred that BLG availed a special opportunity to practice pitching skills and consider all the aspects of a business as part of the planning process. Stooswap told John that they have learnt how they can improve their idea. CharityPick said, “We would recommend students across the UK to participate in Local Genius even if you’re not entirely sure about embarking on the entrepreneurial path as it has a lot to offer.” The feedback from the judges was specific for each idea and this was immensely useful. John will now go forward to the national final in London on the 10th April to compete against other regional finalist and runner up teams. Good luck John!

Celebrating International Women’s Day – Women in Science Blog Competition

Women make, and have made, vital contributions to science.  This is a statement that should not need to be said, but too often women have not received the credit they deserve.

This year to highlight the achievements of Women in Science we ran a blog competition in the School of Biomedical Sciences.  The challenge was to write a blog to highlight the contribution women have made to science.

The 2019 winner was Lilla Marshall (2nd year pharmacology), receiving £50. The close runner up was Caitlin Cosimini (Stage 3 Biomedical Sciences), congratulation to both, here is Lillia’s blog.

Lilla Marshall, winner of the ‘Women in Science’ blog competition 2019

Three Interesting Tales of Women in Science

By Lilla Marshall

Historically, science has been dominated by men. Since the year 2000, only 12.7% of Nobel Prizes for Physiology and Medicine have been awarded to women.

I wasn’t the best in my stats module last semester, but even I can see the problem there. Even in popular culture, if you asked the general public to name as many female scientists as they could – the majority would say Marie Curie and “that lady who had her work on DNA stolen” (meaning Rosalind Franklin).

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