04 January, 2023
I am Marzana, a medical student at King’s College London, now in my third year at university. Through the Research Access Programme at the Babraham Institute I was able to complete an eight-week placement in summer 2022. I worked with Dr Anne Corcoran, Harry White, Elise French and Georgia Bullen, who study B cells (cells of the immune system that produce antibodies).
I have always had an interest in research, but as a medical student and owing to Covid-19 I had limited exposure to the field of research. In particular, I had limited opportunity to learn lab skills. Therefore, this placement was a great opportunity to learn about the research field, attend seminars by PhD students and gain valuable experience. It was also a great way to network with professionals in the field and the other participants, who all had different interests.
I was able to work in a team with diverse experiences and career paths, who were great mentors and provided support and guidance to make the most of my brief time at the Institute.
Although everyone had their own experiments, we would come together once a week at lab meetings to discuss our work, give each other feedback and suggestions. Everyone was friendly; I felt comfortable contributing to the discussions and asking questions to clarify any doubts, which allowed me to learn more quickly. Everyone in the team always helped each other. They also encouraged me and provided me with ways to learn new skills. For example, the opportunity to present at a journal club, to practice critically analysing a research paper and presenting it in a structured way.
Over the eight weeks, I was able to undertake multiple experiments. The most exciting one was testing the effect of two pro-inflammatory cytokines, TNF- and IL-6 on the development of B cells in culture.
I learnt to use new techniques such as growing cell cultures, flow cytometry and using software such as FlowJo and GraphPad Prism to analyse my culture and present the data. The whole process allowed me to build my confidence in presenting my work to other scientists, as well as confidence in my skills and ability to learn quickly.
For future students
I would advise future students to take up every opportunity to learn a new skill, such as using a novel piece of equipment, even if it is not required for their project. By doing so, you have a chance to learn from experts. Finally, talk to member of other labs to learn about their work, as this allows you to broaden your interest and knowledge.
Image description: Marzana (middle) with other RAP students in front of the Babraham Hall.
04 January 2023
By Guest Blogger