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Bronwyn Irving

Graduated June 2017, MSci in Biomedical Genetics.

PhD Student

I undertook a summer placement in 2017 at the Institute of Child Health at UCL looking at glioma brain tumour cell line sensitivity to oxovandaium compound which I organised my own charity funding for. In October I shall be starting a PhD looking at defining the stem cell origins of brain tumours where I start for a year at the University of Leeds and then finish it off at the University of Sheffield. Originally I found the summer placement as I was struggling to find a PhD around Christmas time (which I had my heart set on finding) and thought getting some more experience over the summer might put me in good stead. Typically just after I secured the placement everything else fell into place and I was offered my PhD in February. I always thought I had to find a position early on but even now in the middle of summer, there are new positions being advertised so I probably didn’t need to get so overly stressed early on.

Bronwyn Irving

One of the best opportunities I took advantage of was completing another summer placement in the Northern Institute for Cancer Research between the summer of the 2nd and 3rd years, looking at histone modifications in prostate cancer. It was then that I really realised that a career in research is what I wanted to do and gave the first opportunity to work in a real lab and put into practice some of the methods we’d learned the theory for, for example, western blotting. I was also very fortunate to be published on a paper as a result of this.

I was also fortunate to be given the opportunity to transfer on to the Genetics Integrated Masters. This gave me the chance to choose my modules to suit my interests and learn theory at a higher level. The best opportunity was to do an extended research project where I looked at genetic variants that affect a patient’s response to a leukaemia and inflammatory bowel disease drug. As it was an extended project much of the responsibility of where the project was going was handed to me, where I could research and investigate particular genes that I had found. It was this independence, which is a lot more like a PhD project, that ignited another love for research and has set me up really well for my next steps.

I have had the best 4 years at Newcastle University and would honestly do it all again if I could. The academic opportunities I’ve had have been fantastic but so has my social life, the city is a perfect student city, I certainly worked hard played hard!