well done James!!
Favourite Thing: My favourite thing in science is when an experiment works! I also like looking at my cells down the big fancy microscopes that we have. I think they are rather beautiful!
I attended Woodhead Primary and then Hamilton Grammar School in Scotland a long time ago!
I did a BSc honours degree in Developmental Biology at the University of Glasgow. After that I worked for a few years and then went to the MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in Edinburgh to study for my PhD in Reproductive Medicine where I spent a lot of time looking at sperm!
While I was a student I had several jobs, working in various shops selling jeans! After my first degree, I worked at the University of Bath where I was an experimental officer. I was working on how the intestine develops and looking at the stem cells inside the gut. After I finished my PhD, I moved to Manchester and have been there ever since!
I work at the University of Manchester
I am looking at new ways to make human embryonic stem cells which can then be used to help people with various diseases, like cancer and diabetes and what goes wrong with some embryos in very early pregnancy. I am also interested in how stem cells are involved in breast cancer.
Me and my work
I make Embryonic Stem Cells that hopefully will be used to treat diseases like cancer and diabetes.
I am a scientist at the University of Manchester working on lots of different things, all involving stem cells. I am trying new and exciting ways to create Human Embryonic Stem Cells that in the future will hopefully be able to help people with all sorts of diseases. I’ve been involved with looking at all the genes that are present in very early embryos like the ones in the picture to try and work out why some people have trouble getting pregnant. I also have been trying to find new ways to make embryonic stem cells, this is a picture of the first stem cell line I made.
I’m particularly interested in how stem cells are involved in breast cancer, and trying to come up with ways to stop breast cancer cells from spreading around the body. These are some breast cancer cells that I’ve grown in the lab.
I spend most of my time in the lab carrying out experiments! My job is really good fun and I can’t imagine doing anything else!
My Typical Day
Experiments, results, coffee breaks :)
Well, in my job, no two days are the same. That is one of the things I like most about my work, the variety of it all. I normally start my day by writing a “to-do” list and plan all the experiments I need to do that day. A lot of my time is spent in a room we call “Tissue Culture” which is where we grow cells and embryos in incubators. The cells and embryos are rather fussy and demanding so we need to keep them at certain temperatures, with a particular amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide. They also have to be kept super clean and free of any infections which is why we keep them in a special room! I also help to train new staff and students that come into the lab and I really enjoy this part of my job. The labs that I work in are really friendly fun places and there is always lots of chatting and laughter in the labs. We have meetings every week where we all get together and talk about the results we have. I like these meetings as we take it in turns to bring in cakes and biscuits! As well as carrying out my experiments, I have to record what I have done, and whether or not it has worked. I normally do this at the end of the day before I go home!
What I'd do with the money
I would like to travel around schools with my Stem Cell Workshop to show you guys exactly what I do all day!
I have developed an interactive stem cell workshop so people can experience working with real stem cells as well as learning how important they are in science. I’d bring stem cells to schools to let you see them like these. We will also discuss the various problems associated with stem cell research. At the moment, I have to rely on Schools coming to the University at certain times of the year, and this limits the numbers of people that can take part. The money would allow lots more people to have a go, and hopefully become more enthusiasic about stem cell biology!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Happy, Clumsy and Scottish.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Too many to pick just one! I love all the music from way back in the 1980’s, current music I like include The Wanted and Robyn!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Zorbing!!!! You get put inside a giant inflatable ball then pushed down a big hill! It’s the best fun I have ever had!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. I wish I could sing. 2. I wish I could find a cure for diseases like cystic fibrosis (as my nephew has this illness) and cancer. 3 I wish I could go into space, just to see what it was like!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
I used to get into trouble for chatting too much, but I never did anything too naughty!
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
I helped create Manchester’s first Human Embryonic Stem cell line which is called MAN-1. This can now be used by any scientist anywhere in the world for research.
Tell us a joke.
Q. What colour is a burp? A. Burple.