February 14, 2017 | Simon Jenkins
Biological Sciences student Georgia Lea was attracted by both key elements of the Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship and spent two summer placements working alongside Dr Ian Wood, of the University’s School of Biomedical Science. “As an aspiring researcher, it seemed too good to be true to get paid for gaining three months of research experience and being provided with leadership training,” she says.
Georgia explains the research: “I was looking at a group of DNA-modifying enzymes called HDACs and trying to characterise the effects of drugs which switch the HDAC enzymes off causing changes in gene expression. I also worked with a famous cell line called HeLa cells which are derived from a type of human cervical cancer. I was trying to ascertain what dose of the drugs would cause 50% inhibition of the HDAC enzymes; this value is called the IC50 and is a useful measure to determine the effectiveness of a drug. This was painstaking work but at the end of each week, when the data could be collected and analysed, and I got to be the first person to see those results, it was worth it. Even when it didn’t all go according to plan!”
As well as research, the scholarship enabled Georgia to take part in training courses on interview skills, public speaking and presentation.
Georgia was later awarded a place on a one-year Industrial Placement year with the oncology research department at pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca – and puts this success down to her scholarship. “As the recipient of an Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship I believe my successful application to this prestigious company is a testament to both the scheme’s ability to provide unparalleled access to cutting edge research and the University’s commitment to demonstrating the importance of research in our world today to its students.
“All in all my scholarship has made my time at University what it is: absolutely unforgettable and life-changing. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunities afforded by the Scholarship and will continue to put time and effort in to the scheme in order to get the most out of it and my time at Leeds.”