Meet Melanie Seaton, a Non-Clinical PhD student. In her PhD project, she’s developing cellular micromotors to improve ovarian cancer management.
What is your background?
My undergraduate course was an integrated Master’s degree in Pharmacology at the University of Manchester.
Tell us about your research.
The aim of my project is to develop human sperm as novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools for the detection and treatment of ovarian cancer lesions at an early, pre-invasive stage in the fallopian tube.
I’m trying to do a lot of novel things that haven’t been done before so some of my shorter-term aims could be very challenging and time-consuming to get right, but that’s one of the most exciting things about the project for me! Ideally, I would love to have developed sperm which can target pre-cancerous lesions and act as drug delivery vehicles, and to have tested them in vitro, in situ and possibly in vivo by the end of my project.
Additionally, I am also working on a smaller side project investigating biomarkers in the fallopian tube fluid of healthy women compared to those at risk of ovarian cancer and those who already have it.
The collaborative environment at the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre has meant as well as having access to, for example, state-of-the-art bioimaging equipment, I’ve also been able to go into the operating theatre to collect samples from patients, accessed the University’s animal facilities for my in situ work.
Non-Clinical PhD Student
Who do you work/collaborate with?
I have a fantastic supervisory team who cover the various different aspects of my project. My main supervisor is Christine Schmidt, who is my day-to-day contact and the mind responsible for the idea of using sperm to cure cancer! I also have three co-supervisors: Richard Edmondson, a surgeon at Saint Mary’s Hospital who I work with to collect fallopian tube fluid samples from patients; Stephen Taylor, who will be providing expertise on and access to relevant cell cultures further along in my project; and Daniel Brison, the scientific director for the IVF clinic which provides me with sperm samples.
Additionally, I’ll be collaborating with Oliver Schmidt’s lab in Dresden who will provide sperm caps to aid with targeting sperm to lesions, and have already collaborated with Igor Larossa’s chemistry lab in Manchester who have synthesised and provided me with fluorescent chemotherapeutic drugs. So basically… quite a lot of people!
Why did you apply to this PhD scheme?
While researching potential PhD courses I found the Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre PhD scheme and applied right away. My project is part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and the partnership between the University, Cancer Research UK and The Christie really appealed to me as an organisation clearly focused on patient outcomes.
What’s it like to study in Manchester?
The collaborative environment at the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre has meant as well as having access to, for example, state-of-the-art bioimaging equipment, I’ve also been able to go into the operating theatre to collect samples from patients, accessed the University’s animal facilities for my in situ work. I’ve had other opportunities outside the lab such as a free trip to London to an event for Cancer Research UK PhD students.
What are your plans/aspirations after your PhD?
I’m not 100% sure yet but I know there will be a lot of options open to me. Continuing in academic research appeals to me but I know this isn’t necessarily for everyone and there may be opportunities available to me that I’m not even aware of yet. Luckily the Careers team are on hand to help with this when I need to start making some decisions!
Non-Clinical Phd Studentships
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