I received my BSc in Biomedical Science from Sunderland University. During my undergraduate project, I investigated the mechanisms controlling expression of the atypical chemokine receptor, ACKR2 for which I was awarded the British Society for Immunology’s Undergraduate Prize. I was also awarded a Wellcome Trust Biomedical Science Vacation Scholarship at Newcastle University where I investigated the genetic basis of primary immunodeficiency diseases. I now work in the Inflammation, Immunology and Immunotherapy laboratories, supervised by Dr Amy Anderson, where I work on the development of diagnostic and treatment response biomarkers for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Rheumatoid arthritis; biomarkers.
June 2018 – RACE Meeting, Birmingham.
November 2018 – NIHR Newcastle BRC Showcase event: poster presentation.
December 2018 – RACE Meeting, Newcastle.
June 2019 – RACE Meeting, Oxford.
Rather than ageing, my research focuses on rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a long-term and debilitating disease. I have a long-standing interest in RA, largely stemming from the fact that my Mother suffered from established RA. I recall attending numerous hospital appointments with her as a child, and observing first-hand how the disease impacted her quality of life. Thankfully, with modern diagnostics and the development of drugs that target the dysregulated immune system, the incidence of established disease characterized by joint deformities is rare. Nevertheless, much work still needs to be done to better understand, diagnose and treat this debilitating condition, which remains a cause of disability and reduced quality of life – and hence why I chose to work on RA.
I completed my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science at Sunderland University, specializing in Immunology in my final year. In 2017 I moved to Newcastle University to embark on my PhD.
My research focuses on the development of a simple blood test (or ‘biomarker’) for patients’ with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA, an autoimmune disease characterized by painful and destructive inflammation of the joints, remains a cause of disability, reduced quality of life and increased mortality. Identifying patients’ with RA early can be challenging given the lack of laboratory tests and since everybody’s RA is different. Consequently, there is no ‘one treatment fits all’ approach. I am currently developing a biomarker that can help identify patients’ with RA earlier (diagnostic marker), and to help ‘match’ an individual to a drug that will work for them (treatment response biomarker). Such biomarkers have potential to transform the management of RA, improving patient care, quality of life and longevity.
Since joining the Newcastle BRC and wider NIHR, I have felt as though I belong to a wider community – one which not only benefits my research, but also helps me to develop as a researcher. I am also provided with various opportunities to collaborate with other researchers, both here and in Newcastle and across the wider NIHR network. This has been invaluable to my development.
Having the opportunity to engage with members of the public at a patient and public engagement and involvement event in 2018. Having the opportunity to discuss my work with the very people it will benefit was superb.
Firstly, I would recommend that you make the most of all of the opportunities (there are many!) that NIHR and the Newcastle BRC offer you – they will prove invaluable to your personal development. Secondly, remember to take care of yourself. Your research is important, but so is your wellbeing. Embarking on and completing a PhD is a long journey with many hurdles; don’t be afraid to ask for help or speak out if you are struggling. After all, a PhD is a journey that should be embraced and, most importantly, enjoyed!
Born in Sunderland and raised in Gateshead, the North East will always be my home. Newcastle is a beautiful city, filled with history and with so many stories to tell. There are always new and interesting things to stumble upon, you just have to know where to look!