I completed my degree at the University of Bristol in Immunology with Study in Industry. Whilst in my final year I was recommended to do a PhD at Kings College London with Professor Catherine Hawrylowicz, in the department of Asthma, Allergy and Lung Biology. I was lucky enough to be awarded a MRC and British Thoracic Society Capacity Building PhD Studentship which meant that my first year was a Masters in Immunology followed by a 3-year PhD. My project is focussing on the immunomodulatory properties of vitamin D, with particular focus on the steroid enhancing properties of vitamin D in asthma.
The department of Asthma, Allergy and Lung Biology is a very exciting place to work, as it is based in a Guy’s Hospital, therefore you get access to really precious patient samples. This enables you to do cutting edge research on asthma samples, and thus generate exciting results that are very publishable. My PhD was based around a clinical trial on vitamin D in steroid resistance asthma; therefore I am able to assess immunological differences in asthma patients before and after the vitamin D. This really helps with assessing what impact vitamin D has on the whole immune system as well as at the cell culture level.
The department has many scientists who have varied specialities, so whether you want to do cell based assays such flow cytometry, or genomic analysis, or fluorescence microscopy; every scientist within the department is very happy to help. This means that although your supervisor specialises in one topic there is plenty of opportunity to branch your project out into new areas. I am also very lucky to have access to the BRC Core Flow Facilities where there are a number of brilliant flow cytometry machines which mean you have the ability to do multi-colour flow cytometry.
Although doing a PhD is very challenging there are plenty of people around to help you, which of course include my supervisor. However the department of Asthma, Allergy and Lung Biology has a wonderful friendly feel about it and everyone is willing to help everyone.
Overall I have found my four years here a thoroughly rewarding experience where I have generated a large body of science. I already have two papers and a review published with more to come, but most of all I have made lifelong friends.