Principal Clinical Scientist – Immunology, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Having started my career in cancer immunology research, I was keen to apply for a training programme as a clinical scientist in immunology, to see how this research could be translated into a clinical setting and benefit patient outcomes. After completing my training I was fortunate to be awarded one of the first CSO NIHR research fellowships, which allowed me to undertake a PhD part-time whilst continuing with my clinical career. My career as a clinical academic scientist with the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was further enhanced by an HEE postdoctoral NIHR 3-year research fellowship. My aim has been to integrate an academic role with my clinical responsibilities and to continue my development in my chosen field as a clinical scientist.
This fellowship has been a great opportunity to learn more about public engagement within healthcare science through the ‘People Like Me’ resources from WISE. I have used this tool in my STEM activities to encourage more young women into the field of healthcare science, who may not have previously seen themselves working in this type of role and to raise the profile of healthcare scientists to a larger audience. Recently I was awarded a public engagement grant from the Royal College of Pathologists to develop a project in virtual reality pathology.
I returned from maternity leave last year and I have experienced many of the challenges faced by healthcare scientists when returning to work. I aim to use this experience to support other healthcare scientists with caring responsibilities, both female and male. I hope to encourage others to apply for similar opportunities and to demonstrate that it is possible to have a successful career as a healthcare scientist, as well as maintaining a good work/life balance.
Since returning to work I have been working as a principal clinical scientist. This role includes leading training and education within my department, in addition to supporting research and development. We hold one of the largest repertoires of immunology tests and we are constantly developing and translating novel assays to improve diagnostic and prognostic options for patients with immunodeficiency, autoimmunity and allergy. I am also a Senior Lecturer for Oxford Brookes University and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the University of Oxford.
An additional benefit of this Fellowship has been meeting, spending time with and getting to know the other Fellows. They have been a constant source of support and advice throughout the last year. They are an inspiring group of women who face similar work and life challenges with strength and resilience.
I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by inspiring female role models throughout my career, who have supported and encouraged my aspirations. I now wish to use this experience to encourage the next generation of healthcare scientists.