Favourite Thing: Making exciting discoveries and teaching others how to make their own discoveries.
1987-1992 Holmfirth High School, 1990 – 1992 Greenhead College, Huddersfield.
1992-1996, University of Oxford, Biochemistry.
Cancer Research UK (London), Sanger Institute (Cambridge).
Cell Surface Signalling Laboratory
Area of Research:
Understanding how cells communicate and talk to each other.
Find out more:
Cells contact each other and exchange information, when this communication is jammed or garbled it can lead to disease. My research is focussed on decoding these messages and understanding how we can intervene to treat diseases.
Me and my work
I’m interested in understanding how cells talk with each other and then using this to understand and eventually treat diseases.
All of the cells that make up our bodies communicate with each other so that it all works together – at least when we are healthy. In fact, there are about 10 trillion cells in a human adult (that’s about 10,000 times more cells in each of us than there are people on the planet) and so we could imagine these discussions between cells as a ginormous Facebook network with groups of cells talking with each other. We don’t understand most of these messages and so I want to decode them so that I can understand what happens when things go wrong, for example when we get diseases. If we can do this, we might be able to correct it and provide cures and treatments.
My Typical Day
Email – chat with my team – reading – coffee – thinking – talk to other scientists around the world – more coffee – more thinking – more email.
You can think of scientists all around the globe working towards solutions to some of the major problems that confront us in our world today. Therefore, I spend a lot of time talking with scientists (usually by email or Skype) from other countries. My day starts with reading and answering emails that have come in overnight from scientists in other countires, usually America and Australia.
Scientists usually work in small groups and so I also spend a lot of time discussing with the people in my team about the puzzles and problems that we need to solve to find the answers to our questions.
I also need to keep up-to-date with what other scientists around the world have been doing so I spend a lot of time reading and thinking and out what others have done.
Genome sequencing and my research
Genome sequences have revealed all of the molecules that are involved in communication and so it’s an important resource for me and my team.
We access many of the web sites around the world created by other scientists to help us with our research. We often use the genome sequence of the parasite that casues malaria, human beings and the laboratory mouse.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Analytical, Determined, Tall
What music do you have on your iPod?
Stone Roses, Keane, Black Sabbath
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Cricket tour of South Africa with my cricket team
What do you like to do away from work?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
Many times – the best one was probably inadvertantly (honest) destroying a fence to a field and finding the farmer rounding up cows from our neighbours’ front lawns the following morning.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Together with other scientists, I discovered how the parasite that causes malaria invades our red blood cells – the hope is that we might now be able to block it.
Tell us a joke.
After the police reported the theft of a large number of toilets, they admitted that they had nothing to go on.