Meet the Scientist: Grace, PhD Student in Biochemistry

Meet the Scientist: Grace, PhD Student in Biochemistry


– I think I wanted to be a scientist because I liked finding out about things. I liked finding out how things worked. The traditional stereotype of a scientist is an old white man, with big fluffy hair, in a white lab coat but actually not all scientists look like that, and it would be really
great if we can have more people, more diverse types of people coming in to become scientists too. My name is Grace and I am 26 years old, and I’m in the final year
of my PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Bristol. So usually I work in a lab, and the experiments I do often involve moving very small amounts
of colourless liquids between very small tubes. Sometimes I work with radioactivity, which means that I have
to work in is special lab, or I work with bacterial,
or mammalian cells grown in little dishes. Experiments don’t always go right, and one of the things I’ve
found most challenging is keeping on going, and
keeping on doing experiments when they haven’t gone right
for a really long time. The aim of my PhD is to develop a tool which will allow us to understand
mitochondrial DNA better. It therefore hopefully will allow us to understand mitochondrial
diseases better, and maybe provide a cure
for them in the future. So depending on the mitochondrial disease they can present differently. So sometimes a pregnancy won’t
go to the full nine months but then sometimes there
are other individuals that don’t even develop
any display of the disease until they’re in their mid-20s. Often people can be opposed
or against genome engineering because they see it as playing God. And I think it’s right that we have an open and honest
discussion about how far we want to go to change
humans or the world around us. My research involves
developing or modifying a tool which is already available. The tool which I’m
developing and modifying is for editing DNA, and
you could theoretically say that with that tool
anyone could edit any DNA they wanted too, in reality
it’s probably not that easy. Because DNA controls every
single part of who you are, and what every living things is, if you were able or anyone
was able to edit it, you could imagine that people might start using that in a negative way. So suddenly there could emerge a whole set of businesses which will
give you a designer baby. A baby who doesn’t have that wonky nose that you wish you never had, and actually I don’t
think that selecting out traits like that is a
positive thing in our society. Because genome engineering is exciting, it often hits the headlines. However, sometimes the news
you see in the newspapers isn’t the actually scientific reality of what’s happened in a lab. So it’s really important,
when you’re reading the news about scientific discoveries that you interrogate them properly, that you read and just try and decide for yourself is that based on real science, or are they just trying
to sell you a newspaper. The reason that I’m a scientist is because some of the work that I can
do towards solving problems could make some positive
impact on people’s lives.

4 thoughts on “Meet the Scientist: Grace, PhD Student in Biochemistry”

  1. Really cool concept to expose people to what it's like to be a researcher! Great video! I'm a Biomed PhD, also promoting PhD life, and Biomedical Science of course 😉

  2. This is so interesting, currently on a biochem path and I'm excited to get to deeper levels of understanding this material!

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