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5 minutes with... Richard Beatson

Richard Beatson is a Research Fellow in the School of Cancer & Pharmaceutical Sciences. We took 5 minutes with Richard to learn more about his career and life outside of work.

Richard Beatson image 5 mins with

Briefly, tell us about your background and career up to this point?

I started out in medicine at Glasgow before moving to UCL to study immunology. I came to King’s in 2006 to study glycobiology with Professor Joy Burchell and have been trying to stay in this fascinating and under-researched field ever since!

What do you think people in the School would find most surprising about you?

That I worked in the ‘real world’ for 2 years. I had multiple jobs working for Thames Water, Sainsburys, a Perfume distribution company, an events company and as a painter and decorator…. I even volunteered for in-patient clinical trials (which essentially involved hanging out with writers and playing board games).

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Try not to think so much, take your time and relax.

Do you have any current projects that you’d like to tell us about?

I like to try to find areas that aren’t currently being explored; for example I have a project on chronic inflammatory disease ‘immunising’ against cancers through the induction of antibody responses to shared sugar structures, which may be quite nice.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Hopefully independent and in charge of a glyco-immunology lab, however in research, it can be dangerous to dream.

Who inspires you most and why?

My mother; she had multiple severe disabilities from the age of 48 until her death 2 years ago. Seeing her strength of will to thrive and audio-write several books whilst paraplegic and mechanically ventilated at home, before finally succumbing to support withdrawal after 340 days in an ICU, will never leave me.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

I do not feel that I have personally achieved anything truly meaningful yet, however I take great pride in seeing my students and my daughter develop into positive and kind people.

What is your favourite thing about working at King’s?

The people; our School contains many extremely talented and dedicated individuals. It is an absolute pleasure to work with them.


Favourite season:

Winter. It’s all about temperature management for me. In summer it can be difficult to cool off whereas in winter you are more in control. I happily exchange the bad weather for the ability to stay on top of your own body temperature.

Favourite scientist:

At present, Sir Roger Penrose. His Nobel prize winning research on black holes is well known but it’s his later, more controversial, application of quantum physics to biology in an attempt to explain consciousness that stands out to me. Any materialistic scientist who seriously attempts to understand and explain consciousness using our current tools and methods deserves a medal!

Netflix recommendation:

It’s a bit of a cliché as many have recommended it but ‘My Octopus Teacher’; a stunning piece of work that reminds us that we are not the only beings on this planet that fear, love, problem solve, use tools and make sacrifices. As a dad, I also have to mention Storybots - I would happily watch this even if I didn’t have children!

Coffee order:

Rather embarrassingly for a researcher, I do not particularly like coffee. This may be because of my parent’s work: I grew up in schools, frequenting staff rooms, and so drank a lot of it between the ages of 7-11. I love hot chocolate, but I do worry about the impression this creates when I’m in a meeting where everyone else is sipping double espressos…

In this story

Richard Beatson

Research Fellow

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