British Science Week 2022

As part of our celebration 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 Shane Bell who is a postdoctoral researcher within the team tells us more.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your research project?
My research project involves identifying novel drugs to treat mitochondrial disease via a range of different mechanisms, including improving mitochondrial function and removing faulty mitochondria. I use a range of different cells grown in the lab, primarily brain cells as they are often affected by mitochondrial disorders.

My aim is to understand how novel compounds can improve mitochondrial function in these cell lines. I hope this will lead to the development of drugs to successfully treat and improve symptoms in patients with mitochondrial disease.

2. How did you get involved in this area of research?
I’ve always had an interest in science and a career in research seemed the right thing to do for me! How the brain functions and works always fascinated me which led me to study for a MRes degree in neuroscience, which fully introduced me to the interesting and complicated world of mitochondria. As part of my MRes, I undertook a research project at the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University. This led to a further opportunity to continue this area of research as a PhD student and the rest is history!

3. What do you enjoy most about your research?
Many things! I enjoy working hard to find the answers to scientific questions; there is nothing more satisfying than finally solving a scientific problem, although, that often leads to more scientific questions! Another aspect I enjoy most is the people that I work with within in the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research. We are like a well-oiled machine that share ideas and have stimulating scientific discussions. It’s rewarding to have a common goal and how we use all our expertise into achieving this.

4. What makes for a good research environment?
Being open to new ideas and working towards achieving them. Good research always flourishes under collaboration and helping each other out.

5. What would you say to anyone thinking about a research career?
If you’re passionate about your science and enjoy solving problems, then I say just go for it. “Shy bairns get nowt”, as my mam always used to say!