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Medical Biochemistry to Senior Research Technician

Name : Isaac Gardiner (He/Him)

Job :Senior Research Technician

A levels/ equivalent - Biology, Chemistry and Maths

Undergrad and post grad degrees

  1. BSc (Hons)  Medical Biochemistry

  2. MSc Biomedical Science and

 Favourite science fact - There are an excess of 25 trillion cells in the human body

 Journey in 3 Words - Enlightening, Arduous and Worthwhile.

Briefly describe your current role:I work on Early Detection and Diagnosis award, supporting research in the identification of novel biomarkers for gastric cancer. My role varies from lab tasks of : Confocal microscopy and image analysis, organoid and tissue culture . I also present findings to colleagues and at conferences as well as training other staff members and students in the different techniques of our lab. 

What motivated you to pursue a career in science - My Ghanaian parents, who are medical professionals, encouraged me to take up a career in medicine, but I did not want to copy their professions, so I paved my own way.

What is a typical week like for you? Would you describe your role as varied or predictable and how does that tie into your personality? 

My role is varied, so my tasks throughout the week also chop and change. As a result, I have developed a more dynamic personality. A typical week for me involves maintaining gastric adenocarcinoma cell line(s), establishing/feeding patient and cell line derived gastric organoids, accurately noting experiments, culturing bacteria and infecting gastric adenocarcinoma cultures/organoids.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a defining moment for most - How did you stay motivated during your BSc ( highlights and low moments can be described here) 

The UK response to the COVID-19 pandemic initiated while I was in the last year of my undergraduate course. Although this was a challenging time for myself and my family, I was able to quite easily stay motivated because I was working a full-time role in COVID-19 diagnostic lab, so I was part of the ‘fight’ against SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence. 

How have your passions and interests changed since you started thinking of careers? Was there a defining moment for you? 

My passions have not changed since I started pondering about my career options. Since I lost a family member to cancer, I have always been interested in cancer diagnosis/therapy. 

How did you decide on your Msc? and do you feel you made the right decision for your career? 

My decision to undertake an MSc was based on my desire to advance in my career, as I felt I had reached the ceiling for the career progression that my undergraduate degree could facilitate. I definitely made the right decision, as my MSc course was pivotal in the acquisition of my current role.

What advice would you give someone wanting to follow the same path?

Take every opportunity to ask every question that comes to mind. There’s no such thing as a silly question, every answered ‘silly question’ provides you with knowledge that other people may be too shy to obtain. 

For your current role, what application / interview top tip would you give? 

  1. Make sure you know your work history very intimately.

  2. Familiarise yourself with the job description, essential and desirable criteria, so that you can highlight why you are a great fit.

  3. Always ask the interviewer(s) at least one question, at the end of your interview; it makes you more memorable. I like to ask what interesting projects the interviewer(s) are currently working on or what interesting projects they have worked on, in the past. I also enquire as to what their favourite thing(s) are about their role/workplace.

You’ve expressed interest in  doing a PhD - what would be your ideal project and what are some concerns? 

My ideal project would be establishing patient derived organoids for the screening of novel/repurposed cancer therapy, preferably gastric, colorectal or prostate cancer. A concern of mine, relating to undertaking a PhD, would be making sure that the studentship stipend would be sufficient for looking after my family.

Navigating ‘what's next’ can be quite difficult : What resources or thought process have helped in thinking about your career progression? 

I like to read relevant scientific papers and browse the job market, to stay up-to-date on the latest scientific developments, like new diagnostic assays, technology and novel drugs.

Have you had a mentor and how has that contributed to your career journey?

No, but I am a Christian, so I believe that I am always being led by God and this has always given me confidence throughout my career journey.

  • Outside science how would you describe yourself? 

  • I am a laid-back person, who enjoys spending time with my family, watching TV shows and movies and keeping fit.


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