Science for Health
22 August 2013
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.
For 25 years I have been a lab research technician. My first job was at the Bio-Products Laboratory in Elstree as a Research Assistant, working with blood products like plasma, IgG and Factor VIII. My role in the R&D department was to help develop new diagnostics and improve production methods. After five years I took up a part-time position at St. Thomas’ Hospital after my first daughter was born. When my second daughter was born I decided to go back to full-time work and joined NIMR. At first I worked in two different labs in the Virology Division, working with HIV and HPV and later moved to Developmental Neurobiology. In July 2012 I successfully applied for a Lab Manager position, seeing this as my best chance for career progression.
As a Lab Manager I provide primarily technical and financial management support. Lab Managers at NIMR are ‘jack of all trades’ who are ready to deal with day-to-day issues – anything that affects the research of our scientists, from resolving a blocked sink to making sure an important payment was completed. The work is endless but varied, challenging and rewarding. I enjoy the flexibility I have in setting my own schedules, and the busy nature of the role: there are rarely any boring moments. I also act as safety and radiation advisor to the divisions I serve and advise on safety in containment labs. Above all, I enjoy the interaction with people who help to resolve our daily problems; they are helpful and efficient, and after all these years NIMR is still the friendliest place I have ever worked.
After graduating from university, I started working as a Lab Demonstrator. I enjoyed this scientific teaching role but it lacked the hands-on experimental work I strived for. I applied to work at the NIMR since they have a reputation for excellent research facilities and a highly collaborative environment. Indeed there is a very positive attitude to collaborations across divisions. It is easy to find a kind colleague to show you how to use equipment and to share their protocols and knowledge.
My role is as a Research Technician in Immune Cell Biology where I have worked for the past four and a half years. My job mainly involves the genotyping and maintenance of breeding mouse lines, ensuring the smooth running of the lab on a daily basis and providing technical assistance for colleague’s experimental work. Through the years, I have acquired a diverse range of research techniques. The job is overall very varied with opportunities to carry out your own research projects and make contributions to publications. It is occasionally challenging but very rewarding and enjoyable.
My laboratory career started when I did my industrial placement as part of a Sandwich undergraduate Degree at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School in Central London (now part of University College Hospital). I went back to the same lab to work and do a PhD as a part-time student. In 1991 I came to NIMR to work as a post doc in Tony Lai’s lab in the Division of Physical Biochemistry. The lab then moved into the division of Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology (NN). Following Tony’s departure I became part of Tim Bliss’s group in 1996. I worked with Tim until he retired in 2009.
I was lucky to enroll and completed a Bioinformatics master during my final year in NN. I was asked by the present director Jim Smith to establish and run the new core Genomics facility. I have been extremely lucky with my scientific life in the Institute. I have had great supervisors who have been supportive of my career and have given me the opportunities to professionally develop myself and learn new skills. All this has led directly to my present position, which has been like walking into your dream job for me without having to leave home and the family unit of the NIMR. I have also been involved in the social aspect of the NIMR by playing an active part in NIMROD in most of time here. The NIMR been a great and successful part of my scientific life and I am grateful to my past and present supervisors and colleagues.
Surprisingly, as a child I did not dream about working in Finance and Procurement, I wanted to be an astronaut, Later in life, studying Neuroscience and during my PhD in Developmental Neurobiology at UCL, I only envisaged a scientific career. Unfortunately, for science, I realised that having continuous employment as a scientist in London would mean too many compromises so I opted for a career in science support.
I joined NIMR over four years ago as a Laboratory Manager. There is something very special about NIMR, the wonderful community we comprise, a place where people matter, friendships are built and most importantly great science happens. I feel proud that I can still contribute to science, even in an indirect way. NIMR has allowed me to realise my strengths, to believe in myself and to build a career. Recently, I moved into Procurement where I am responsible for capital equipment purchases, the asset database, and service and maintenance contracts. In addition, I am involved in the preparation for transition to the Crick. Thanks to NIMR, I am in the process of obtaining a diploma in Purchasing and Supply and am hoping to be actively involved in shaping our future at the Crick and ensuring that scientists can concentrate on science and research.
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