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Posted on: January 5th 2024

Visit to the UCL Cancer Institute - Alice, 8V

Alice in 8V sent this report:

On Sunday, 18 December I was invited by the Worldwide Cancer Research charity to interview Dr Jamie Dean, a research scientist, at the UCL Cancer Institute in London. Jamie is working on a project to increase the efficacy of radiotherapy as a treatment of glioblastoma, one of the most common and aggressive brain tumours. I have been a Curestarter (a supporter) for Worldwide Cancer Research since 2020 when I contacted them whilst researching cancer cures and treatments for a project I had started.  Since then I have been in regular contact with them, fundraising and making donations, and last year I appeared in a mosaic art installation that was displayed at Spitalfields in London. My meeting had taken almost a year to arrange, but it was well worth the wait.  

A film crew from WWCR were present, along with the Science Communications Manager and a Marketing colleague.  There was also a photographer from UCL.  I met Jamie Dean and his team of researchers and they were all really nice and spent the whole day with me. For the first hour I was interviewing Jamie, using questions I had prepared. Sometimes we had to film a certain piece again due to noises outside, and it was interesting to see how the filming works. The room was set up with cameras, a large photo umbrella and white lights that took a little while to become accustomed to.  I also had a microphone clipped to the back of my dress.  It was quite daunting, especially as Jamie’s team were in the room, along with the film crew and the charity team, plus my mum. But once we started talking, my confidence grew and I was asking new questions based on his answers. Jamie is extremely intelligent and passionate about his work. Being a research scientist sounds fascinating, exciting, stressful sometimes but mostly inspiring.  Jamie and his team gave me many tips. This is definitely an area I am exploring for the future.

After the interview, I went to the labs where I was handed a lab coat and then taken on a tour and given lots of information. I learnt about protein in cells, I saw the centrifuges in action, incubators where cells were kept at 37 degrees and several other pieces of important equipment.  I viewed the brain of a mouse on slips that were ready to be analysed and I was also privileged to visit the experimental area in the basement where the mice are given doses of radiotherapy. This is to gather data and results needed to progress the project and find the most efficient way to administer radiotherapy to patients. Every area that I saw was different and each scientist had a different expertise. They have to work closely as a team to ensure they get results, and I noticed that although their work is extremely important, focused, precise and often serious, each person was happy and it was a friendly working environment.

Seeing behind the scenes has made me even more curious and passionate about science research. As well as the research part of his job, Jamie explained about the funding that is needed.  It is clear that fundraising is important. This is where each Curestarter can make a difference.

The filming will be made into a short clip for the Worldwide Cancer Research website and I can't wait to see how it turns out. 

It was a long, but amazing day, one that I won't forget.  I am grateful to Dr Jamie Dean and his team and the Charity, the film crew, photographers, and everyone that made this opportunity possible.

Dr Jamie Dean's project can be viewed here.

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