Science for Health
31 July 2012
Laboratory Managers look after all the labs and equipment of one or more Divisions, ensuring that the science runs smoothly. Other specialist support managers are responsible for NIMR's facilities.
I started my scientific career with a six-month placement at Glaxo Wellcome in Stevenage straight after my degree from the University of Bologna in Italy. I decided to stay in the UK where there were more possibilities to do research outside academia than there were in Italy. I then spent 13 years working as a medicinal chemist at SmithKline Beecham (which then became GSK).
A couple of years ago, I decided to change career and came to NIMR as a Laboratory Manager. For 18 months I shadowed other Lab Managers and covered for them while they were on holiday, which gave me the opportunity to get to know all the different areas and all the key people in the Institute. From the beginning, I was struck by how different the atmosphere was at NIMR compared to industry and how much easier it was to talk to people. Since July 2011, I have taken on the role of Lab Manager for the Divisions of Immune Cell Biology and Molecular Immunology, following the retirement of Nick Clark. So far, I have really enjoyed my new role. I love interacting with other support staff and my scientists, helping them sort out problems with equipment, ordering from suppliers and coordinating lab refurbishments.
After successful stints at EMBL-Hamburg Outstation, University of Athens and the Netherlands Cancer Institute, I came to NIMR (nearly three years ago) with the rather daunting task to set-up the Protein Expression Lab within the Division of Molecular Structure. When I arrived, there was a lab packed with equipment waiting for me. And thanks to the help and support of my line manager and the members of the Division I had my lab up and running within a few weeks of my arrival. Since being at NIMR, I have benefited immensely from the freedom I was given to develop new protein expression technologies, the close working relationship with the members of my Division and the collaborative spirit amongst NIMR scientists.
So far, NIMR has been a fantastic place to work, giving me the opportunity to get involved in challenging projects while generously offering all the necessary resources and support, which makes the whole process very enjoyable.
Following a decision not to pursue a teaching career I arrived at NIMR on November 14th 1977 and only really expected to stay a couple of years. However, NIMR’s invigorating and academically stimulating environment together with its unique warm and friendly atmosphere, which can only be described as mildly addictive, got in the way of moving further afield and I have thoroughly enjoyed an exciting and interesting career spanning 34 years.
I first joined Dr Mike Parkhouse’s lab in the Immunology Division and became an expert in monoclonal antibody production. Following Mike’s departure in 1990 I moved into Dr Ann Ager’s lab where I spent the next ten years working on lymphocyte trafficking. When Ann moved to Cardiff in 2000 I was recruited into the expanding Flow Cytometry labs. The research skills I had gained over the previous 23 years and in particular the experience I had working with antibodies, fluorochromes, and flow cytometric methods meant that I was easily able to slot into a very busy lab. In 2010 I successfully applied for the post of Flow Cytometry Manager. Running the Flow Cytometry labs has given me the opportunity to develop the service and we are now able to offer a cell sorting service at CL2 and have just taken delivery of a new state-of-the-art analyser.
In summary, NIMR offers a fantastic career opportunity for those who want it. Combining this with the exceptional uniqueness of the NIMR environment means that my last 34 years here have been an incredible experience. I would recommend it to anyone and I hope new staff experience the same at The Crick.
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