"The enthusiasm of brilliant scientists who were passionate about their research was inspiring. The first hand experience of working in a laboratory setting has convinced me to pursue a career in biochemical research instead of medicine."
Kate Champion spent her summer at the Babraham Institute. Kate, a student at Impington International Sixth Form in Cambridgeshire, spent five weeks working with Dr Rudge and other researchers at the BBSRC institute on a project about lipid signalling.
Kate with Dr Rudge
How did you get involved in the Nuffield Research Placements scheme?
I was considering medicine or medical research as a career, so I was looking for work experience for the summer in a biological research laboratory. I contacted the Babraham Institute and they suggested the program to me. I thought that this unique opportunity would be interesting and stimulating.
What were the aims of your project?
The aim of my project was to investigate whether phospholipase D3 (a protein of unknown function) is involved in the secretion of autotaxin (a protein involved with the production of a growth factor involved in cancer).
I measured and compared the levels of autotaxin secreted from mammalian cells with and without phospholipase D3. I used methods that were new to me, including working with live cell cultures, immuno-precipitation, gel electrophoresis and Western blotting. It was an ongoing process of refining the methods in order to obtain a result. It became apparent that the step of removing extraneous proteins was also removing the protein being studied. When this step was omitted, a result was obtained. It was found that phospholipase D3 does not affect the secretion of autotaxin.
What did you learn most from your placement experience?
I learned from my project how rewarding it is to be part of a research team. It was exciting to experience what ‘Science’ really is. The enthusiasm of brilliant scientists who were passionate about their research was inspiring. I feel my placement gave me a taste of both the wonderful process of discovery and the frustration of experiments not as expected – both of which fuel the desire to investigate further.
How have you shared your placement experience with others at school?
I have discussed my project with many other students. Since I was the first student from my school to do a Nuffield Research Placement, I am encouraging others to apply next year. I found it to be an extremely valuable experience.
Kate with Anthony Tomei, Director of the Nuffield Foundation
What are your longer term plans and how did your placement experience affect these plans?
Before doing my placement, I was planning to study medicine, but the first hand experience of working in a laboratory setting has convinced me to pursue a career in biochemical research instead.
The Babraham Institute have taken many Nuffield students over the years. Find out what the experience has been like from the point of view of a researcher here.