Since I started this project a couple of years ago, I’ve discovered a new protein that is involved in regulating when cells die. And I’ve discovered that this protein interacts with another protein that’s known to ‘chop up’ the contents of the cell when it’s activated, to disassemble the cell in an orderly way.
But there’s still a lot of progress to be made… I have to figure out exactly what the new protein does – does it help the chopping-up protein, perhaps? And then when I know exactly what it does and how it works, I can think about designing drugs to target it to make cancer cells die.
It has progressed a lot. I am now on the brink of being able to apply the methods I have developed to cancer. I am now looking through databases of bits of biological machinery that are affected by cancer-related mutations, and seeing how those mutations affect the assembly of these machines. Hopefully I will be able to spot some patterns that could have clinical significance.
I think that I’ve probably made quite a bit of progress since I started. I have found out a few things that we didn’t already know, like how many women in the UK take hormone replacement therapy, and I’ve made quite a bit of progress setting up our study too.
Whilst I wouldn’t say that I’ve found out a huge amount so far in my research (after all, a PhD is just the start of your research career), I think that I have progressed a great deal in my knowledge of HOW to be a scientist. This is in terms of both how to think about experiments and analysis, and how to write scientifically. I have also learned to read scientific papers in an efficient way – as they can often be quite complicated, so getting to the heart of them quickly is a useful skill.
My presentation skills have also improved, because you also have to be very careful what you say around other experts – every word is important!