Career Profile - Scientific officer

Name: Elicia Fyle

Job: Scientific Officer at The Institute of Cancer Research

A levels / Equivalent : I studied International Baccalaureate (IB). I attended high school in the USA. My subjects and grades for IB are as follows:

Chemistry: 4 out of 7

Mathematics: 5 out of 7

Psychology: 5 out of 7

English: 5 out of 7

Spanish: 4 out of 7

History of the Americas: 4 out of 7

Theory of Knowledge: 2 out of 3

Overall: 29

Graduate degrees:

BSc. Biomedical Science – University of Sussex (2011-2015) – First Class Honours

MSc. Human Molecular Genetics – Imperial College London (2016-2017) – Merit

Journey in 3 words: Committed, Unique, Joyful

Briefly describe your role : I am currently employed as a Scientific Officer at the Institute of Cancer Research. I assist in lab-based medical research to investigate a paediatric cancer known as neuroblastoma. Our overall goal is to discover therapeutic targets within neuroblastoma cells, which would lead to drug discovery for the affected patients. Many neuroblastoma patients have a genetic amplification of an oncogene known as MYCN. My colleagues and I attempt to target MYCN and its associated genes/proteins using techniques such as PCR, western blotting, and immunohistochemistry. If targeting these genes/proteins reduces the cancer phenotype, these results can be used for drug development.

How did you get into your role and how does it differ from job roles such as "laboratory assistant" ?

I applied to the Scientific Officer position straight after my Master's course in 2017. I was happy to get the position. I had just finished a Molecular Genetics Master's, which I believed helped me to get into working in cancer genetics (with neuroblastoma research). To be honest, I'd say that my role is a research assistant type role, but with a fancier name haha! I assist with lab work often. I've been privileged to work on the research elements a lot, because of my awesome team who gave me many chances. My role has technical aspects, but also gives me the freedom to think of, and test new hypotheses to investigate neuroblastoma cells.

What motivated you to pursue a career in science: I developed an interest in the sciences during my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science. I was always interested in chemistry and science as a whole and so decided to pursue a career in the sciences. I enjoyed learning about cellular pathways and how manipulating pathological pathways could lead to the development of therapeutic drugs.

Work- Life Balance: In my spare time, I enjoy writing poetry about many different topics such as scientific research, Christianity, and African culture. I also enjoy walking and cooking. I’m in the process of learning how to cook Sierra Leonean cuisines!

What advice would you give someone wanting to apply for a phd ?

I am currently applying for PhDs in cancer research. I would give other people the same advice that I give myself, which is to persevere in your applications. Try out different application methods such as emailing supervisors that you are interested in or applying directly to funding bodies.

I know that I would like to study a PhD because I would like to be asking big questions regarding the investigations of therapeutic targeting, personalised medicine, and drug development. I would like to be in charge of my own project regarding cancer research and to develop in the area of collaboration and independent thinking.

What are the best and worst parts of doing a phd ( outsider looking in)

From working around many PhD students and from me experiencing a taste of what doing a PhD would be like during my Master’s course, I would say that the best part of a PhD is the independence it gives you to seek out new collaborations and to network. I’d say that the most challenging part of a PhD is when lab tests do not always produce the results that you expect. Doing a PhD certainly takes perseverance and dedication!

What is your biggest pet peeve about how the world perceives science:

My biggest pet peeve is the fact that careers in scientific research/academia don’t seem to be promoted compared to other fields such as patient-facing roles like clinicians and nurses. I do believe that this is starting to change, with more public engagement activities in schools and a growing media presence. I would like to see more young people striving to build careers in the sciences.

Outside science how would you describe yourself:

I would describe myself as a friendly and joyful person who enjoys spending time with family and friends. I am also a creative person, as I enjoy writing rhyming poetry pieces. I like to travel and experience different cultures.

Catch up with Elicia Below

Instagram: eliciafdfyle

Twitter (personal): eliciaelicia246

Twitter (poetry): primepoetry1

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I hope this post inspires you to follow your passions and acknowledge that at every stage of your career will involve perseverance, consistency and discipline to help you achieve your desired goal. Never forget that “ no accomplishment is too small and no goal is too high”

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