Bolton School, 1992-99
University College London, 1999-2002 – BSc in Molecular Biology
As a student I did a summer’s work in a photo lab, developing people’s holiday snaps. I also did a three-month placement in the Paterson Institute for Cancer Institute in Manchester
I’m a post-doctoral research fellow in the department of genetics
UCL Institute of Ophthalmolgoy
Favourite thing to do in science Talking and writing about my work, explaining what I do to other people – I really enjoy giving talks and lectures as well as writing about my research and about exciting developments in related fields.
I use modified viruses to deliver gene-based therapies for inherited diseases that cause blindness, and investigate new animal models of these diseases.
In recent years we’ve learned more and more about diseases that cause blindness, identifying which genes go wrong – the lab I work in is interested in restoring these mutated or missing genes to restore function to the cells in the retina responsible for sensing light.
To deliver the genes we use genetically engineered viruses as vehicles – viruses have evolved to be really efficient DNA delivery machines, so we simply get them to deliver the genes we know have gone wrong in disease. This technique is effective enough to be in clinical trials, but we’re always searching for newer, better and safer therapies.
I’ve also developed and described new models of retinal degeneration, which mimic patients’ disease, with a view to treating them with gene therapy.
My Typical Day
I generally split my day between cloning new DNA genomes for my therapeutic viruses, culturing cell factories to produce virus in, and analysing how effective my treatments are using PCR, Western blot and tissue sections
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Geeky, cheeky, short
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I went to the Cricket world cup in India and Sri Lanka – best trip ever!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I was never quiet, so often my banter got me into a spot of bother – nowt serious though!
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Presented three years’ worth of work to hundreds of scientists and clinicians at a huge international conference in the USA
Tell us a joke.
Atom one: “I think I’ve lost an electron!” Atom two: “are you positive?!”