This is my introductory blog post into what I hope will be an enlightening experience. This blog will be a mixture of my own thoughts, a look into what cancer is and what we can do and probably a few layman's glimpses into new research I find interesting. I am also running a "What the Hell?" series explaining key scientific concepts. Hopefully it will help you understand the random science-y things I say. I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say and please comment, ask questions and generally get involved. There's one thing scientists love almost as much as bragging and that is a hearty discussion (read: loud argument). Apologies in advance for bad grammer, terrible spelling and general lack of good english.
I started my PhD a little over one year ago with bright, wide-eyed expectations of what I could do. Needless to say the eyes are a little dimmer, a little older and wiser but still full of possibility. I'm not going to tell you what I've been doing in the last year in detail, I will get to that later, but I will tell you I've learnt a lot, cried even more and done things I'm very proud of.
If you haven't guessed already, I am a cancer researcher. I study breast cancer and how we can prevent it. I am also a geneticist and epigeneticist (which I explain in detail in another post). In a nutshell I am looking at Type II Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) and how understanding the different aspects of this disease and treating this disease can give us insight into how normal breast cells become cancer. I am currently investigating the Type II Diabetes drug Metformin, which is the most commonly used T2DM drug. In diabetic patients it can reduce the likelihood of developing breast cancer by 56%. This means, compared to diabetic patients not taking Metformin, Metformin users are less likely to develop breast cancer. It can also reduce the risk of developing a whole list of other cancers for example liver cancer and colorectal cancer. How does it do this? We don't know. Which is where I come in. Yay!
Other background information about me. I am a PhD student in Imperial College London (8th in the world for colleges...just saying...not bragging at all...) and work in the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Hammersmith Hospital. I'm a part of the Epigenetics Unit there, a wonderful little team who are always ready to help out or go for a coffee (especially when it's "very morning" - Nair) and trust me I need all the help I can get! They're a great group of people and it's a privillage to work with them (I'm not sucking up...promise). Also I'm Irish. So there's that.
So that's just a brief bit about me and what I do. I am ready to do this and hopefully you are too. So buckle up, hang on tight and get ready for some mildly enjoyable, rambling science talk!
Some of the people I work with (not all are still with us and some are missing - apologies!). Beautiful people with incredible hearts who I have the privilege to work with everyday.
Here we are enjoying the stunning vistas of the Peak District, UK (2016).
Disclaimer: I will tell you now I have a conflict of interest as far as CRUK as concerned. Of course I do. They fund me. They have given me money, some might say foolishly, to study a subject I am passionate about. I want to thank them for doing this, which is why their logo is on my pages. This is a charity which deserves recognition and I am going to give it to them. This does not mean however that they control the content of anything I put on this blog. They are supportive of this odd endeavour and have allowed me my creative freedom. Simialrly with any charity I post on this blog.
My name is Caitriona and I am a PhD student at Imperial College London, UK.