How did you become interested in translational gastroenterology?
In all honesty, I had not considered translational gastroenterology as a career path until I came across the advertisement for my current role as Bio-banker. I completed my Honours degree in microbiology/biochemistry in South Africa and thereafter worked as a medical scientist in a respiratory research unit. When I moved to the UK in 2017, I knew that I wanted to continue in the field of clinical research and it was at that time I came across the role of Bio-banker for the Translational Gastroenterology Unit. After doing my research into the role and the unit itself, I found myself instantly fascinated and I felt that I simply had to be involved.
What are you currently working on and what importance does your work hold for current patients with gastrointestinal issues?
As a Bio-banker, I ensure that the patients are well informed about the research they are taking part in and that the consent, sample collection and data collection are done ethically and according to the patient’s wishes. The importance of correct patient consent and ethical sample collection and storage cannot be emphasized enough. We have to ensure that the rights, safety and confidentiality of patients are respected and protected. We as bio-bankers are often a patient’s first introduction to taking part in research and this introduction can impact how patients view research in general. This process is critical to ensure the continuation of clinical research, as without consented patients and available samples, some research simply couldn’t continue.
What do you enjoy most about scientific research?
The thing I enjoy most about scientific research is knowing that no matter how big or small my contribution may be, ethical clinical research is always a step in the right direction for patient treatment and care. Looking back through human history, it’s amazing what has been achieved scientifically and medically and we see the benefits of research every day. It brings me joy knowing that I am playing a part in some of the research that will improve the lives of others in the future.
What’s the best part of being an Oxford University TGU member?
The TGU is really a wonderful unit to be a part of. The members of this unit are a mix of different people from all over the world with different roles, who are all working toward a common goal. Not only are we continuously learning about gastroenterology, but as part of this unit we learn about each other’s cultures as well. There are often social activities that are planned within the unit which are great fun.