Intern in the Prof Kate Hardy and Prof Stephen Franks lab, IRDB Hammersmith
Bars manager at the Roundhouse
NHS STP Reproductive Sciences Trainee
My main areas of interest
I’m currently working on prenatally androgenised mice as a putative model for PCOS, so my main area of interest is PCOS and its associated pre-diabetic state disrupting the fine balance of the female endocrine axis. I also nurtured specific academic interest in genomic imprinting disorders and the potential for stem cell research to abrogate infertility. As I am going to start the NHS STP in Reproductive Science I am also interested in improving patient pathways along their ART journey and progressive treatments for infertility and embryo culture, as well as recent progress in CRISPR/Cas9 technologies and their potential application in IVF.
Most beneficial things about the programme
The diversity of topics was really beneficial, and provided real scope to the course: from cell signalling through to anatomy, from conception through embryo development to birth as well as addressing the inevitable ethical dilemmas in reproductive medicine. I enjoyed every lecture, and each was delivered by an expert in the field, with passion and to a high standard. It was great to have the opportunity to talk with lecturers to discuss and problem solve more complex concepts, as the set up in the IRDB is quite intimate and relaxed. Being based in Hammersmith Hospital also gives a sense of the importance and immediacy of the research being done at the IRDB and also means you are in an excellent position to gain work experience in a field you are interested in. Lecturers also work really hard to make some really excellent handouts with easy and accessible diagrams which make revision much easier!
Most enjoyable aspect of the programme/Imperial
I really enjoyed the opportunity to have a tour around the IVF and andrology labs, and would thoroughly recommend if possible. It was great to speak directly to a HCPC registered embryologist about their experiences whilst also learning about the strict regulation and management side of running a busy and successful IVF lab. It was incredible watching the egg collection, ICSI and embryo transfer procedures and watching the invaluable work, support and expertise that the clinical embryology team provided to patients along their ART journey.
I also really enjoyed the range of guest speakers from leading researchers in the field to doctors and surgeons. Standout talks included a talk by Sir Robert Winston, who is a fantastic orator and really inspiring and also Nessa Carey’s informal discussion on the rising profile of epigenetics. While Stuart Lavery’s lectures really challenged my critical thinking capabilities and preconceptions regarding the ethical dilemmas in reproductive medicine.
Also make the most of the other benefits that Imperial has to offer: I recommend the excellent careers advisors for CV and application advice, talks for post graduates and discounted extra-curricular classes such as languages (French, Japanese etc.).
Since the Masters I’ve…
Since completing the PG Cert, I have been interning in the Prof Kate Hardy and Prof Stephen Franks lab working with the team on prenatally androgenised ovarian tissue, using immunostaining to visualise protein co-expression in growing follicles. Both have been very supportive mentors, and it was great contributing to lab meetings with other MSc students and getting to know the PhD students. I also travelled around Japan for a month, the flexibility of the PG Cert allowing me to do so.
I have been accepted onto the NHS STP for Reproductive Medicine in Manchester. While it took a lot of perseverance to get there, I believe persistence and the specialist knowledge acquired during the course helped broaden my understanding of this incredibly rewarding area of healthcare and I am very much looking forward to starting my new career.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions in lectures if you don’t understand – chances are if you don’t understand the rest of the room won’t either! And if you're interested in a topic go and speak to a lecturer after their talk and ask questions if you don’t want to ask in front of the rest of the class – if you show an interest in their work, they will reciprocate! Also if you are stuck, do ask for help, contact your personal supervisor and be honest if you are struggling because the course is designed to challenge you! Remember everybody at the IRDB wants you to do well so don’t be scared and make the most of this incredible institution!