NCS Student Shadows Cell Biologist For The Day

Following a wonderful lecture on the role of a cell biologist for our students, Aqsa in Year 12 spent a day shadowing Dr Christina Philippeos at Guys Hospital. Below is the student view on the experience:


The student view

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to shadow cell biologist, Dr. Philippeos at Guy’s Hospital. It was my utmost pleasure to be able to shadow someone like Dr. Philippeos who not only gave me an insight to her career but also increased my knowledge in research being done today and how it’s being used practically in treatment of people.

My day started with Dr. Philippeos telling me more about her research on developing a cell therapy on different populations of fibroblasts, which are cells that produce collagen in the skin to be used for healing of wounds and scarring. If you have a wound, fibroblasts present in the lower region of the skin migrate and produce collagen at the upper layer of the skin to repair the wound. However, if too much collagen is produced, scarring will take place. If cells from the upper layer can be administered, scarring can be prevented which is particularly useful in breast cancer surgeries.

I also had the chance to ask additional questions of my own like:

“Why do acid burns leave a permanent mark?”

“How does skin cancer develop?”

Being a cell biologist involves a lot of experiments which are conducted daily. I had the opportunity to see an experiment being conducted in a Tissue culture room and the procedures involved in conducting the experiment. In the Tissue culture room, contamination of bacteria can affect the results so precautions like wearing gloves and lab coats were taken as well as spraying all equipment with ethanol before and after use and disposing of all equipment used immediately.

After the experiment, I had the chance to attend the Journals Club which was hosted every week and involved all the researchers gathering together and sharing any interesting research that they found over pizza. This gave me a chance to talk to other researchers who were developing their theories regarding cancer and stem cells which greatly intrigued me and led me to know more about this research and do additional reading on cancer and stem cells.

One of the most crucial things I learnt from this experience was that there are so many career choices available! I personally didn’t know a job like a cell biologist existed and for someone like me who has a passion for biology, this shadowing experience definitely opened a new career pathway for me.

– by Aqsa (Year 12)



You can now apply to join The NCS for your A Level studies from September