The Legacy of Henrietta Lacks


By Evangelia Rakou Stage 2 Biomedical Sciences Student

Who is Henrietta Lacks?

It might come as a surprise to you that one of the people who changed the course of medical research was not even a scientist herself. Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman and mother of five who died from cervical cancer in 1951.

After complaining of vaginal bleeding, she was diagnosed with the disease and sadly passed away several months after her diagnosis. However, her cells continue to impact the world and revolutionise modern medicine years after her death.

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Dr Marie Maynard Daly: The Mother of Genetics and Heart Diseases

By Luisa Roa Gil 3rd year Physiological Sciences student

Illustration of Dr Marie Maynard Daly
Illustration of Dr Marie Maynard Daly by Matteo Farinella on Tumblr

You might expect to instantly recognise the name of someone that contributed to the discovery of DNA structure, revealed the cause of high blood pressure, and became the first African-American woman to obtain a chemistry PhD, right?

However, you may be shocked by how many do not know the story of Dr Marie Maynard Daly – a woman who made multiple advances in science and opened doors for young scientists.


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My role as an EDI rep

By Alex Washington, MSci Biomedical Genetics

For a little while now I’ve been looking for ways to help the LGBT+ and disabled communities but was never sure where to go or what I could do. I do still want to find other ways to help, but I found my starting point as an EDI (Equality, Disability, and Inclusivity) representative in the School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences.

How I got the role

I originally applied to be the LGBT+ rep, thinking “well I’m really queer so that’ll work,” but Dr Parry, head of the EDI committee at the time, thought I’d be better suited for the marginalised genders role, seeing as I’m very vocal about being trans. I didn’t have much of a choice when I was 19 going on 12 but I’m still open about it now, when I easily pass as a cis man (not looking quite 20 yet but getting there).

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My Summer Travels with Cryptosporidium

Rosie, our Biomed undergrad tells you of her experience working in Wales and Liverpool on a summer research placement

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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My week as a student at the University of Padova: Views of a summer school student

By Charlotte Ripley – Food and Human Nutrition Student

A trip to Italy?! Yes please!

In June, I attended a Food and Health Summer School in Italy, mixing with students from the University of Padova and the University of Sydney.

The focus was on the effects of different food components on overall health and well-being, with topics ranging from the effect of soil on the micronutrient content of foods to the worldwide issue of obesity – so the week was specifically aimed at those with a medical or food science background. Thankfully, everything was taught in English, as even Duolingo wouldn’t have prepared me for terms such as ‘squalene’, ‘fetotoxic’ or ‘teratogenicity’.

Though the week was primarily lecture based, we visited 2 different food producers (Grandi Molini Italiani –  one of Europe’s largest flour mills – and Prosciuttificio Attilio Fontana Montagnana – a family-run prosciutto factory) and got to see some of Padova’s biggest attractions (Orto Botanica, Palazzo Bo and the Museum of History and Medicine). We even had our very own gala dinner to celebrate the end of the summer school – luckily, the lectures didn’t quite put me off the free wine on the tables.

Prata Della Valle – just a 5-minute walk from my hotel.

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My top tips for starting university when living with disability or long-term medical condition

By Caroline McKenzie

Moving to uni can be lots of change for anybody. When you’re also living with a disability or a medical condition, getting through each day, let alone being able to study can be a challenge.

I’ve just finished my first year studying biochemistry and living and learning with physical disability has often been hard! I thought I’d share a few things that have helped, and so here are my practical top tips for starting university for those living with disability/long term medical condition.

Me on my scooter outside the med school

Get a Support Plan

A Student Support Plan (SSP) looks at all aspects of learning and possible adaptations that you may need, you get these from Student Wellbeing. Meet up with your disability advisor as soon as possible, the sooner you get this in place the sooner adaptions can be made. They will be aware of things you can utilise that perhaps you didn’t realise- for me that included creating a Personal Evacuation Plan (PEP) for when there were fire alarms! Continue reading “My top tips for starting university when living with disability or long-term medical condition”

Dear International [and UK] Fresher – You CAN do it!

By Simona Jogaudaite (2nd Year Biomed Sciences)

With a flight ticket in my hand, I can still remember being so nervous and so excited at the same time before starting a new chapter of my life – university.  

My big flight to the UK from Lithuania

“How did you handle that?” you may ask. Here’re my answers and top tips you.

GET RID OF THE FEAR TO FAIL:

You think the British accent is hard to understand? Well, you haven‘t heard the Geordie accent then. I remember it was my first day in Newcastle and my flatmate texted me: “alreet”.  Continue reading “Dear International [and UK] Fresher – You CAN do it!”

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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Student Enterprise Ambassador’s #EntrepreneurshipDiary: #1

Introducing our Student Enterprise Ambassador, John.

Hi, my name is John and I am a 3rd year Biomedical Sciences student with a business idea that I am pursuing while completing my degree at Newcastle University.  I was consequently nominated to be the Student Enterprise Ambassador for the School of Biomedical Sciences (SBMS). Continue reading “Student Enterprise Ambassador’s #EntrepreneurshipDiary: #1”