As part of British Science Week 2022, we have talked with members of the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research (WCMR) team at Newcastle University to discover more about their research and the importance of a positive research environment. Here, Dr Charlotte Warren who is a postdoctoral researcher within the team tells us more.
Can you tell us a bit about your research project?
I am involved in a few different projects within the WCMR at Newcastle University . On one side, I work with the clinical trials team on a number of different clinical trials. One of these trials aims to assess the diagnostic potential of stool samples in the hope that the diagnosis of mitochondrial disease can be as non-invasive as possible for patients of all ages. On the other side, I also work within the treatments team in the laboratory, where I am working on a project which aims to discover a novel therapy for a specific group of mitochondrial patients.
How did you get involved in this area of research?
Since high school I’ve always been interested in science and known I wanted to do further study. I studied Physiology as an undergraduate and was lucky enough to do a summer placement in an exercise lab within Newcastle University. It was on the back of this, I heard about the world leading WCMR and went on to complete my MRes and PhD within the mitochondrial research team.
What do you enjoy most about your research?
I love the fact that each day is different. Research is all about solving problems, so you get to spend the day finding the answers to lots of different questions, meaning it never gets boring! Also, some of the projects that I have been a part of have given me the opportunity to work directly with patients in the clinic, which I really enjoy. Seeing first-hand how mine and others research carried out within the laboratory translates directly into a clinical setting is really rewarding and drives my enthusiasm for the work that I do.
What makes for a good research environment?
This is all about team work. Although you may be the one doing the experiment or writing that manuscript, research is not an individual’s game and you rely on a having a good, supportive team around you. You need an environment where you not only get on well with your colleagues, but also have a team who you can look up to and who you are not afraid to get advice or help from. Research can be quite lonely and frustrating when things aren’t going as well as you’d like, so you need a positive and motivational environment to support you.
What would you say to anyone thinking about a research career?
You need to have a passion for what you are doing! Although it’s great when things are going well, there are a lot of times that this isn’t the case so you need that motivation of doing something you love to keep you going. Having a solid team around you will make things much easier!