Tissue Handling Technician (Colorectal Cancer Sample Handling Pathway)
I obtained a BSc (Hons) Degree in Biomedical Sciences from Oxford Brookes University in December 2009. From June 2010 to August 2012, I worked as a Medical Laboratory Assistant in the Department of Microbiology at the John Radcliffe Hospital. My main role was to process biological samples using aseptic techniques under standard operating procedures. I started work as an Anthropometrist/Laboratory technician on the INTERBIO 21st Project in September 2012.
INTERBIO-21st is a component study of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project. INTERBIO is a large international study being carried out in seven collaborating sites around the world (Brazil; Nairobi and Kilifi, Kenya; Pakistan; Thailand; South Africa and the UK ) that aims to assess fetal and newborn growth in health and disease. I am one of six INTERBIO-21st anthropometrists/laboratory technicians employed at the Oxford site. We have several roles, one of which is to collect and process biological samples. We process samples of maternal blood, cord blood and placenta, and buccal swabs from infants at their 1st and 2nd birthdays. We are involved in the storage of thousands of samples sent to Oxford from the collaborating sites.
Another key responsibility of the team is to carry out anthropometric measurements of newborn babies and infants aged one and two years. These measurements include head and arm circumference, length, weight and skinfold measurements. We also assess the body composition (fat and fat-free mass) of the newborns using a machine called a PeaPod.
We assess the neurodevelopment of infants at two years of age using the INTERGROWTH-21st Neurodevelopment Assessment Package. This is a 45 minute assessment that includes tests of vision, cortical auditory processing (using EEG), neuropsychological outcomes (cognition, language skills, behavior, motor skills, attention and social-emotional reactivity) and sleep-wake patterns.
The team also have a number of administrative roles. We organize the follow-up of the Oxford infants, contact General Practitioners, enter data and carry out quality control checks. A key part of our role is to liaise with the women participating in the study, hospital staff and other researchers within the department.
I am currently the lead Biobanker for the CRUK colorectal cancer (CRC) sample handling pathway in the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences since September 2017. The CRC CRUK platform aims to use patient data and results to build a database available for research in order to understand the growth and spread of cancer and how it responds to different treatments and how it can be improved.
My main responsibilities are to identify suitable patients that can take part in CRUK projects that are being carried out locally and nationally. To then consent them and collect, process and store their pathological specimens. Some samples are also distributed fresh to the projects. In order to achieve this I follow up the participants from endoscopy up until their surgery using a variety of sources and to liaise with consultants, pathologists, surgeons, nurses and theatre staff.
As a member of the NDS biobanking team I am also involved in other research projects that apply to our biobank for access of tissue. Among these studies are 100,000 Genomes Project, for OxValve cardiac study, other projects under the ORB and GI-illness ethics. A similar process is in place to coordinate and manage the samples for these projects.