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Kate Watkins

Kate's profile

In 2012, I started my undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Bath. During my studies, I secured a professional placement at GSK's largest research site in Stevenage, working as a clinical scientist in the Respiratory department. I had a fantastic year researching biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). I was fortunate enough to work on various fibrosis biomarker discovery studies that included transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics. It was during this year that I decided a PhD would be the next step for me after graduation.

During my final year at the University of Bath I spent a semester in a microbiology lab supervised by Professor Edward Feil. My research involved investigating the bacterial species found in cosmetics and the presence of staphylococcus small colony variants using both laboratory and computational techniques. During this time, I applied for the MRC DTP. I chose the MRC DTP Masters PhD scheme because it was interdisciplinary which put me outside of my comfort zone and allowed me to build on the skills I felt I was lacking.

Having now completed the MRC DTP Masters year, I can definitely say that my statistics, coding and physics knowledge as well as experimental biology techniques have improved. The Masters year was certainly interdisciplinary and gave the time to seriously consider what kind of research I wanted to commit myself to for the next 3 years. The best and most important thing about this course and the MRC program at Warwick is the team feeling and support system. I have made some very close friends and we’re always having a great time even when things are tough! Our monthly MRC meetings and the annual MRC retreat are particular highlights for me as we get to hear about exciting science in a very relaxed and social environment.

I completed two mini projects as part of my Masters year. The first project, supervised by Marco Polin (Physics), involved designing and fabricating a microfluidic device that will be used to create a lung infection model. My second mini project, supervised by Meera Unnikrishnan (Warwick Medical School), involved investigating of the role of intracellular staphylococcus type VII secretion system effector proteins and their impact on Macrophages. My PhD now combines both of these mini projects with the aim of deciphering the biological roles of the type VII secretion system proteins within macrophages and to develop the microfluidic lung mimic for studying S. aureus persistent infections and type VII secretion system mutants. I will use a range of techniques including, confocal microscopy, molecular biology, immunology techniques, photolithography and microfluidics. I am very happy that I was able to take the time to create a PhD plan that was right for me.

MRD DTP in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research

How to apply

MSc course




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