Researcher of the Month: Dr. Claire Pearson
How did you get interested in your scientific work? During my undergraduate degree I worked on a research project about why the immune system is less efficient in old age, and from this I became interested in a molecule called interleukin-7.
My time in the lab was so enjoyable that I decided to pursue a PhD in the role of interleukin-7 in T cell survival at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. T cells are fascinating cells of the immune system that can help to protect us from pathogens but when uncontrolled can actually cause disease. My research started to focus on the pathological side of the immune system when I joined the Powrie Lab. Now my research interest is in a newly described population of cells called innate lymphoid cells, and how a small number of these cells in the gut could cause pathology in inflammatory bowel disease.
Q: What led you to become Lab Manager?
I enjoy lab work but I am also very keen on organising! As a post doc I worked closely with the previous Lab Manager to keep the lab running smoothly. I get a lot of satisfaction from working with other lab members, particularly our research assistants, to improve our lab systems. Every day is different and I enjoy the challenge of balancing the everyday organization of a large and complex lab with the unexpected occurrences that make life more interesting.
Q: What do you really like about working in the lab?
The TGU and Kennedy Institute contain a diverse group of scientists and clinicians, and there are so many enthusiastic and knowledgeable people around who make the lab an enjoyable place to work. People are willing to listen to your ideas and offer advice, and I’ve had the opportunity to present my work at international conferences as well as closer to home. I’ve particularly enjoyed communicating our research to the public at science fairs such as the Royal Society Summer Science exhibition, as I believe we have a duty to explain to the people who ultimately fund our work why it is important. There’s always something new to learn and the translational aspect of our lab helps me to keep a perspective on the overall aim, which is to improve the outlook for patients with inflammatory bowel disease.