Nana-Jane Chipampe is a registered biomedical scientist currently in the third year of her PhD researching Bladder Cancer at Newcastle University.
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Nana-Jane shares her story in an interview with us in celebration of Biomedical Science Day 2020.
Tell us about your professional background and your current research/role?
I have always been fascinated by the human body from a young age. My neighbour was a pathologist and kindly organised a week in Histopathology during ‘work experience’ week at the age of 15. I knew then I wanted to further develop my understanding of the human body. I studied Biomedical Sciences at Durham University and was captivated by the Histopathology module. To gain experience working within a laboratory, my first job in the NHS was as a medical laboratory assistant at Darlington Hospital in Microbiology. To obtain professional HCPC registration, I started a trainee Biomedical Scientist role at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough within Histopathology.
Fast-forward a few years, and I wanted to expand my skillset, particularly within research and I decided to pursue a Masters of Research at St Georges University. I thoroughly enjoyed the prostate cancer research project and additionally, I worked within the NHS Histopathology department for two hours a day first thing, embedding and cutting urgent specimens, before going up to do my research for the rest of the day.
I wanted to move back up north to be closer to my family and further enhance my skillset and pursue a career within academia and research. I applied for a research technician role and 8 months later my manager encouraged me to apply for a PhD. Generously funded by the NIHR, I was awarded a prestigious three year research project at Newcastle University based in the Northern Institute for Cancer Research.
Currently, I am at the final stage of PhD investigating mitochondrial dysfunction within bladder cancer patients following Radical Cystectomy. This has involved learning many new skills including DNA extraction, library preparation for samples undergoing whole genome sequencing, as well as combining many histopathology learnt techniques. I have a fantastic supervisory team including a Urological Surgeon, the National lead for the NHS National Highly Specialised Services for Rare Mitochondrial Diseases, the Scientific Director of Yorkshire & North East Genomic Laboratory, and a Professor of Molecular Urology.
How have you found the last few months during the pandemic?
It has been incredibly difficult being away from our loved ones, particularly those that are at high risk who have been shielding. Being in the final few months of my PhD I am mostly thesis writing, in a city away from home and have been social distancing.
How are you managing to cope, any interesting tips or strategies you would pass to others?
Strategies that I have been using to cope have been:
- Making a gratitude list and when the going gets tough, looking back at the list and being grateful for what I have around me.
- Reaching out to friends and family has helped to alleviate worries: “talking helps!”
- Looking after my physical health by stretching on my yoga wheel, taking breaks from writing and going for a walk every day and dancing! There has been a concert performance every day, starring me, myself and I at least once a day at my house! But dancing and remembering to do what I love during this time has really helped.
What do you enjoy the most about professional registration?
I adhere to the HCPC’s requirements to maintain my registration by demonstrating that my CPD activities are relevant to current and future practice and contribute to the quality of patient services. I was particularly pleased when my CPD file was chosen for audit in 2018 by The Science Council and I obtained a nomination for Outstanding CPD award.
I am proud to be HCPC registered and maintaining my CPD has encouraged me to improve my skills, knowledge and experience.
I also enjoy the feeling of being part of a wider community of scientists in the UK and beyond. The IBMS also has strong community of members and it feels great to be part of a diverse network of scientists that all interact yet work within various scientific fields and institutions.
How has professional registration helped you plan your own personal development and goals?
I understand the importance of working in an environment where I contribute to patient focused healthcare.
Professional registration has allowed me to continually expand my knowledge, skillset and techniques.
Being a HCPC registered professional as well as belonging to a professional body gives me the confidence to increase my skillset within various disciplines as there is a collective group and wider community of scientists to support me. This encourages me to continually develop my areas of expertise.
What do you hope to do after you have completed your PhD studies?
After submitting and defending my thesis, I hope to further develop international collaborative opportunities to undertake work that has a direct benefit to patients’ health. I would like the effective translation of research into clinical practice to provide meaningful benefits for patients, the public and the health care system.
Do you have an inspirational quote?
“You will never speak to anyone more than you speak to yourself in your head, be kind to yourself.”
- In your words
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