PI / Professor of Metabolic Physiology / BHF Senior Research Fellow in Basic Science
Radcliffe Department of Medicine (RDM)
Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM)
Tell us a bit about your role
I lead a research group with a mixture of Research Assistants, DPhil students and Postdoctoral Researchers, and we study human metabolism using stable-isotope tracers and a combination of in vivo human and in vitro cell models. The current focus of my research is on understanding liver fat metabolism, as perturbations in this have the potential to impact widely on metabolic health and disease risk.
I am involved in career / researcher development (Chair of the RDM Career Development Committee, sit on the MSD Research Staff Working Group). I am also Graduate Studies Lead in OCDEM.
How did I get to where I am?
I never had a career plan, was open to suggestions, like to try things, am not worried about not succeeding, more worried about not trying. I have got involved in things I feel that are important – people and their development
How do I fit into wider landscape MSD? Develop the next generation of researchers who not only work toward doing great science but toward changing the current research culture.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
My research investigates the effects of specific dietary nutrients and/or diets on human metabolism, specifically liver fat metabolism and our findings then contribute toward national and international dietary recommendations around diet and risk of disease.
Also, being part of someone’s development (professional/personal). Watching people grow in confidence, skills, abilities and being part of the process that helps them achieve things they didn’t think possible is a privilege – that includes moving on from academia to contribute to science in other ways.
Can you tell us about something you've done, contributed to that you're most proud of?
Proud (& incredibly surprised) that I have developed a research group that not only does great science, but is very productive, happy, and supportive, not least I because I didn’t finish high school I was lead to believe that University ‘wasn’t for me’.
Proud of the people (past and present) in my group of what they achieve, how they support each other (& others in the building) and how they are excited by each other’s achievements.
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
- Open/honest communication about career paths (and showing that diversity is a strength) and all paths are valued and bring different things to the table. There is no one right way; what works for one may not work for another, people should be able to feel proud and own our ‘own blueprint’ rather than suffer imposter syndrome
- A change in what academic esteem markers look like – so it isn’t all about papers and grant income, rather acknowledgement of ‘other’ positive contributions such as excellent mentoring, contributing to changing toward a positive culture etc. Also greater acknowledgement of the contributions of postdocs, students & RAs/technicians, because without them we (PIs) would not have data to present.
- A more collaborative environment, rather than it being a race to see who gets across the finish line first. More productive/effective when work together rather than trying to being better than others (comparison is the theft of all joy!)