I work in the lab extracting and sequencing bacterial DNA in order to identify species/genes of interest.
Recently I have been involved with direct from sample sequencing, where we take a patient sample (like urine or sputum), extract bacterial DNA and sequence it. We can then name the bacteria and look for resistance markers (which can tell us which antibiotics will/won’t work).
Current diagnostic labs can take days to produce resistance profiles for a pathogen (this is usually held up by having to grow the organism on specialist media). By using direct from sample sequencing, we aim to reduce this time significantly, thereby treating patients more effectively and in less time.
How I became a Research Scientist
For my first degree I studied Biology at the University of Nottingham. It was pretty general but gave me some well-rounded Biology knowledge and helped me discover my real interest – Microbiology! During my first year I completed some work experience at a veterinary surgery and spent a week with the diagnostic lab looking at the animal samples and using all the diagnostic equipment. I loved it and decided to focus my career on laboratory microbiology. In order to boost my bacterial knowledge, I completed a masters in Clinical Microbiology and worked in a few labs including a manufacturing micro lab testing soap and shampoo and an NHS diagnostic lab. Although I really enjoyed these roles, I wanted to get more involved in discovering new things and finding new ways to help people – and so I decided to get into research! I currently work as a research assistant, where I do the microbiology lab work (growing bacteria, extracting DNA, and improving these techniques), which is then used for big research projects.
I’ve always known that I had an interest in science but my chosen career has taken me two degrees and a few jobs to figure out. It is ok to change your mind or even not know what you want to do as a career going into university. For example, pre-university I wanted to be a veterinary surgeon (and it’s safe to say that didn’t happen!)
In my spare time I enjoy racing cars!
Example of recent direct-from-sample sequencing:
More work Leanne has been involved in: