Emma Couves, a first-year Biochemistry student at Imperial College London was awarded a summer studentship in Westminster’s Department of Biomedical Science from the Society of Endocrinology.

Emma was given the opportunity to spend eight weeks in Dr Alastair Barr’s laboratory in Westminster’s Department of Biomedical Science working on a project and receiving guidance from him. The project focussed on examining the effect of genetic variants in certain receptors and observing the activity of receptors which are found in various endocrine cancers. 

Emma worked alongside Westminster students Sylwia Biszczuk (Biomedical Science BSc Honours) and Carla Sanmartin (Biomedical Science MSc Honours) to support future publications and grant applications by generating valuable data. As part of her studentship, Emma also submitted a report to the Society of Endocrinology’s quarterly magazine The Endocrinologist. 

Speaking of the experience, Emma said: “By conducting a research placement at Westminster, I gained a greater understanding of how scientific research is conducted as well as greater confidence with new technical skills.

“With guidance from Dr Barr, I was shown how to plan out lab work based on results of previous experiments.  I was also able to carry out procedures which, before my time at Westminster, I had only a theoretical understanding of from first-year lectures. This included Western blotting techniques, culture and transfection of mammalian cells and ELISA assays. I also gained more confidence with simple laboratory techniques including loading and running polyacrylamide gels. This studentship gave me insight into a research laboratory and significantly improved my confidence and competence in a laboratory. I hope the experience I gained from my time at Westminster will help me to carry out a PhD in the future.”

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