Gavin Metcalf graduated in 2012 with a BSc (Hons) in Human Biosciences and is currently working as a MRes (and DIC) Cancer Biology Student at Imperial College London.
As a Cancer Research student I am currently responsible for investigating lung cancer cell metastasis (spread around the body) and particular proteins that can influence this process, with aims to find proteins that can be targeted with new treatments.
The role involves a variety of scientific skills, along with working as part of a close team of scientists. I enjoy the variety of skills involved and the fact that I’m contributing towards developing novel therapies for a disease that so many people are afflicted with. Challenges include the fact that biological research is never simple and successful 100% of the time, things often don’t work and a major challenge is trying to work out what has gone wrong and how to right it.
My undergraduate degree gained at the University of Northampton put me in the right position for getting onto this highly competitive course. Additionally, completing a variety of clinical and research internships at various hospitals and laboratories gave me the confidence to work within the challenging area of cancer research within academia.
The course not only gave me the background knowledge of biochemistry and Human Disease, it also provided me with analytical thinking and the opportunity to complete a research based project developing a variety of laboratory skills under the close supervision of excellent researchers.
Many skills and knowledge are useful in my work role including Biochemistry, Immunology, Disease, and Research skills including Chromatography, Spectrophotometry, Microscropy, Venepunctures, Safe handling of sharps and blood samples, computational software use including Chart 5, Excel, and SPSS for statistical analysis.
In terms of giving advice to any undergraduates interested in this work I’d suggest that they complete as many extra research placements as possible, even during your degree. Remember to not only focus on the work you are producing but also constantly question your findings. The key to being a scientist is to question everything.
The course at the University of Northampton was very well organised, with an amazing supportive network of lecturers, each specialising in particular bio-molecular areas including genetics, immunology, biochemistry, health and disease, and neuroscience.
The lectures were informative and never boring, and the laboratories that you work in are new and staffed by friendly and helpful lab technicians.
The University of Northampton as a whole was friendly and Park Campus was a pleasure to call home for three years, the openness of the campus made you feel that you were not in a large town, however the town centre was only a few miles away. I will always appreciate the support and education I received from the University of Northampton.