Life as a Researcher- Dr Michael Allen

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I am a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Professor Louise Jones' laboratory group. Barts Cancer Institute has very strong ties with Barts Health NHS Trust and a keen emphasis on translational research, aiming for a better understanding of cancer as a disease and how it can be treated.  It is very important to me that my research has a direct link to patient benefit, which is something unique about the BCI.

I am a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Professor Louise Jones' laboratory.

In my current research, I aim to understand how early breast cancer (DCIS) progresses to invasive disease.  If left untreated only ~50% of DCIS patients will progress to the potentially fatal invasive diseases, suggesting many women are over-treated. Part of my work concerns how we can stratify treatment better.  Moreover, there must be a trigger causing the development of invasive disease, and thus I aim to determine what this is, hopefully identifying new targets to prevent the progression of breast cancer.

The highlights so far have been that I get paid to do a job that I love and I come to work knowing it will usually be a different experience every day!

Any scientist, from a BSc student to a PI, will know that research is littered with moments when things don’t go to plan. I’ve certainly had my share of those problems.  The most depressing moments have been getting the reviewers comments back on a manuscript you thought was finished, seeing the hideous number of additional experiments required, and feeling like it will never be published.

The key is to learn from the problems and never make the same mistake twice; and to make the most of collaboration, learning from the mistakes of others as well.

Submitting a paper is not the end- always plan for more experiments on the basis of comments from reviewers.

I plan to stay in science and hopefully start writing my own grants in the future.