Technicians in Research

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3 images showing someone working in a laboratory.

Paul Kendrick
Senior Lab Technician in DAS

Myra Conway
Professor in Biomedical Sciences

Paul Kendrick Interview

How did you come to be working at UWE Bristol?

I began my career by undertaking a three-year apprenticeship as a technician at the University of Bristol (UoB). Whilst at UoB, I attended UWE as a day release student and achieved my honours degree in Applied Biological Sciences. During which time I also gained employment as a senior technician at UWE in the Department of Applied Sciences.

What are the main aspects of your role here at UWE? What is your particular skill set and areas of interest within your field?

My role as a senior technician is to support the histological practicals for the undergraduate studies in the department. This extends to training students and staff in histological techniques while facilitating research / projects across all departments at UWE.

What career development and recognition have you experienced whilst in your technician role, and any future aspirations?

My role has not really changed during my time at UWE, although I now have the added responsibility of complying with the Human Tissue Act (HTA) and all the additional protocols this entails.  I have previously been named on a paper in 2016 – On hybridising lettuce seedlings with nanoparticles and the resultant effects on the organisms’ electrical characteristics (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27424022/).

I would like to undertake an MSc or PhD but, as yet, have been unable to follow this path.    

How did you become involved in this research project? In which ways did you contribute and how does it feel to be named on the paper?

I became involved with this paper as I was approached for help with tissue sectioning and methods to detect breast cancer using immunohistochemistry.  I learnt many of these techniques from fellow colleagues such as Anthony Rhodes and Colin Philpott.  I was also asked to proof read the method section of the paper.  It’s nice to be acknowledged but I feel it is just part of my job. These types of project always involve a number of people coming together, to which my role plays a very small part.

Are you aware of any future projects that you may be involved with?

I never know what will happen next but I’m always happy to help.

Do you have any other skills, knowledge and interests you have that are outside of your role?

I have too many hobbies and interests to mention, but my current fasciation is cheese making.

What do you value most about working as a Technician for UWE Bristol?

I have a high level of autonomy and feel supported by my close colleagues. Their years of accumulated knowledge, not to mention patience, has helped to maintain my mental agility.

I would also like to take the chance to thank my old mentor’s Debbie Martin and Debbie Ford of Univeristy of Bristol, I wouldn’t have the skills, or the need to listen “Women hour” while sectioning.

Myra Conway Interview

Have you worked with Paul prior to this research project?

I have known Paul for 16 years but have worked with him mostly during laboratory teaching practicals.  I have always found Paul to be so helpful in teaching both undergraduates and post graduates.  As this research project involved the histological preparation of breast cancer tissues, Paul was the technician with the relevant skills that could help us. 

In which ways did his skills, knowledge and input assist the team?

Having technical help is invaluable for both instrumental use and method development, I have worked closely with Paul, Kim, Alison and Dave within the Faculty of Applied Sciences on different projects. 

Mai Shafei is the first author on this paper and Paul’s technical involvement was with the sectioning of the breast cancer tissues, preparation of the slides and staining methods. This ensures the tissue is sectioned correctly and quality slides are produced.  Specific markers, on the tissue, can then be targeted for analysis. 

The article will be published in the international journal, Breast Cancer, which has a wide audience and is an open access journal.  It publishes articles that contribute to progress in the field, in basic or translational research and also in the clinical research arena.  It presents original articles describing clinical, epidemiological studies and laboratory investigations regarding breast cancer and related diseases.

In what way will this research have an impact within your field?

This is an important paper which investigates biochemical information on the markers involved in delineating breast cancer subtypes. It highlights and compares two isoforms of human branched chain aminotransferase proteins (HBCAT) and their associations with the HER2, luminal A and luminal B subgroups. This is an emerging field for this marker and by using actual breast cancer tissue, we were able to distinguish characteristic patterns from its use. This type of research leads to a greater understanding of markers which could be used to help target future therapies in the treatment of breast cancers. 

Any future projects that may require technical support?

We were able to publish two papers from this thesis and we will be applying for further funding to enable us to look at proteins in breast cancer disease.  This will, of course, require further technical support and Histology supports the biochemistry cell culture models that we use.   Future studies will be HER2 focused as this is an important breast cancer sub-type that would benefit from better therapeutic strategies. 

Images of hBCAT and IDH1 proteins in different molecular breast cancer subtypes.

References:

Shafei, M.A., Flemban, A., Daly, C. et al. Differential expression of the BCAT isoforms between breast cancer subtypes. Breast Cancer (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12282-020-01197-7

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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