Tissue Handling Technician (Quality in Organ Donation and the Oxford Transplant Biobank)
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR ROLE
My role as a Tissue Handling Technician for the Quality in Organ Donation (QUOD) biobank and Oxford Transplant Biobank (OTB) involves the collection, preparation and archiving of biological samples in order to support research concerned with improving organ transplant outcomes. Most recently, I have also been processing plasma samples for the new COVID-19 BioArchive (COBA). Working for these repositories is a very rewarding experience as the specimens for which I am responsible for processing, provide the foundation for research that has and will continue to inform clinical practice and benefit population health.
My scientific curiosity began at a young age and was nurtured by my grandad; an engineer in the Royal Air Force. I have always shared his interest in disassembling and learning about the scientific processes that govern everyday life. Through school and university, I developed a particular interest in human musculoskeletal anatomy; this fascination has since been developed through my doctoral research which focused on the structure and mechanical properties of the clavicle and ribs with increase in age.
WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL ASPECT OF YOUR WORK?
I feel privileged to be afforded the opportunity as part of my role to collect samples in the operating theatre for OTB, and see first-hand the impact that ensuing research has on organ retrieval and transplantation during this very important time for both the donors and the organ recipients. I am continually gratified that my role in processing specimens for QUOD, OTB and COBA is a small cog in a much larger mechanism that has the potential to ultimately benefit public health.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SOMETHING YOU'VE DONE, CONTRIBUTED TO THAT YOU'RE MOST PROUD OF?
Aside from processing blood samples for COBA of late, it is my involvement in organising and participating in public engagement and outreach events that I am the most proud of. My latest endeavour has been to begin producing a video using a variety of mediums to communicate the journey of a donated organ to the public, having successfully been awarded a Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund grant. In particular, I found taking part in Soapbox Science a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. Soapbox Science is an annual, interactive public outreach event that promotes the work of female scientists (http://soapboxscience.org/2019/10/04/surround-yourself-with-a-dedicated-doctoral-community-who-will-support-you-meet-hannah-mcgivern/). I am proud to have participated having been given a platform with which to help inspire the next generation of female scientists, and challenge any preconceived perceptions of women in science.
WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO SEE IN THE MEDICAL SCIENCES IN THE NEXT 100 YEARS?
The revolutionary advances in medical sciences over the last hundred years have centred on improvements in quality of care and the outcomes of medical procedures. I am of the opinion that these principles should continue to govern and propel changes and advancements over the next hundred years.
Regenerative medicine in particular, integrating the exponential rate of technological advancement with the body’s own cellular defences and pathways for treatment, will become increasingly important.
Furthermore, I have become increasingly aware, through my involvement in public outreach, that the medical sciences community should continue to and increase levels of communication and interaction with the local community in order to inform and inspire.