Completed my profile with a cup of tea. Back to the lab for antibody staining!
Name of MRC-funded unit/centre/institute
Institute of translational medicine, University of Liverpool
University of Liverpool
University of Aberdeen, 2005-2012, University of Glasgow 2015-2016, University of Liverpool 2017-present
BSc. (Hons.) First Class (Biomedical sciences), MBChB (Medical degree), MSc. Distinction (Stratified medicine)
Various hospitals including south and north Wales, Glasgow hospitals, Merseyside and the Wirral.
Pathologist and clinical fellow (MRC researcher)
Favourite thing to do in my job: Making and viewing microscopic images of parts of the human body - the beauty and complexity is constantly astounding.
A climber, mountain biker, kayaker, hill walker and general lover of the outdoors who spends his work time helping to cure lung cancer.,
I currently live in Liverpool, but have studied, worked and lived all over the UK, from East Sussex to Shetland, Wales to Glasgow. I am happiest when outdoors, and am particularly fond of the “extreme” outdoor sports, though I am not as fearless as I was!
White water kayaking, rock climbing (particularly bouldering), hill walking, skiing and mountain biking are my favourites, but I am happy to try anything: sky-diving, caving, scuba-diving – if it looks like fun I will give it a go!
I live with my girlfriend (a semi-professional climber) and we will be getting a new dog to stay with us and come outdoors when we do.
When not outdoors I have been known to spend many a good evening playing computer games. I haven’t bought a new game in years but I reckon I could still beat anyone at a game of C&C Red Alert 2!
I'm a doctor and a scientist. I get to help patients with lung cancer and work on my own research to make lung cancer treatment better.
OK so I said I’m a doctor and that is true! But specifically I’m a pathologist – so I’m not who you would see at a GP or even if you came into hospital.
It doesn’t mean I work on the TV series CSI either! (although I have some friends who do something similar).
In fact my work as a pathology doctor involves taking lungs that have come from patients with cancer and using the information from them to guide other doctors, surgeons, cancer specialists and the patients to the best treatment options.
My own research focuses on a new style of drug used in cancer.
Simply put – these new drugs use the immune system to fight cancer. Normally the immune system fights infections like bacteria or viruses – but clever drugs gets them to fight cancer instead.
These drugs can work well but they aren’t perfect – so my research looks at ways we can make these better!
My Typical Day
No two days are ever the same - but broadly, a pleasing mix of clinical work, research in the lab, meetings, writing, talking and chatting with colleagues.
Most mornings I’ll get up, enjoy a big breakfast (my guilty pleasure is chocolate cereal) and cycle into work.
After saying hello and catching up with everyone, I’ll check my pigeonhole to look for any clinical work, and (hopefully quickly) go through any emails I have.
After this, no two days are ever the same – I might be spending the day in the labs preparing sections of lung for further work, perhaps staining them with specific antibodies. Or I might be scanning in lung cancer images and using digital image manipulation as part of my research.
I might be focused on my clinical work – diagnosing and identifying lung cancer from hospital patients and helping other doctors like oncologists and surgeons to form the best plan.
There are always plenty of meetings and events to prepare for and attend. Occasionally I get to present my work at big international events like World Conference on Lung Cancer – this year being held in Canada!
The days are busy but interesting, and the variation is very important to me. I will finish off by making a well deserved cup of tea, double checking those emails, and making sure I have completed what I wanted to for the day, and having a good plan for the rest of the week.
After this – a cycle home with hopefully enough time in the day to go down to the local climbing centre for an hour or two!
What I'd do with the prize money
To increase awareness of how the immune system can fight cancer and why drugs that help do this are so important
Having participated in a number of public engagement events that vary quite considerably in nature, I know there is a lot of scope for talking to general members of the public and school children on a variety of topics.
Often when talking to the general public they know that cancer research is important, and many say that do donate – but often they wonder what specific advances are happening and what these mean for the future.
In addition, school age children are often curious to learn more about the body and I find it works best to put in a context they can relate to. Sadly, cancer is something many children are aware of through family/friends, but even if not, it probably has the biggest press of any disease group.
As such I would use the money to help participate in already established PE events (like science spectacular fair, or locally organised events for school children and public at schools, hospitals etc.) to run a stand/similar that gives people both the opportunity to understand what new advances are happening in cancer research (with an obvious focus on the immuno-oncology drugs used in lung cancer as this is my specific area!) and encourage them to be excited about this.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Inquisitive, unconventional, enterprising
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
As a doctor I was once called to see a unwell man on a cancer ward. I already knew this man but he was incredibly unwell. Its rare I get to say this - but I really did save his life. Whenever I am feeling low or uninspired - I try to remember all my work and research will hopefully save more lives in the future.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My dad. My research is mostly around cancer, and he was unwell with cancer when I was in primary school. The sense of wanting to help him and others to beat cancer certainly helped drive me to my current work.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Technology - woodwork (even though I was useless at it!)
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to make help research cancer but had no idea how! I went to University to find out.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
All the time! Mostly minor things but I did once set off fireworks in the main hall....
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
One of the nice things about science is the opportunity to travel - so if not this then something that involved seeing the world.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Depends on the mood - Kiss put on one of the best shows I've ever seen, as did Radiohead. Children of Bodom I listen to a lot, but for office work something like London Grammar is great.
What's your favourite food?
Curry! Of every type.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Outdoor sports are my way of having fun - lots of things I could say - but white water kayaking over big waterfalls is always fantastic fun.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To stay in a job I love (I've done jobs I don't enjoy and there is little worse). To stay healthy and fit enough to do the sports I love. To keep having and making new great friends (and of course my lovely girlfriend!) If you enjoy your work, your time off and your friends - I think life is going very well for you.
Tell us a joke.
I'd tell you the joke about a very high wall... but you'd never get over it.