Developing new skills

Alice Rigby, dentistry student
Alice Rigby
Undergraduate Student
Intercalated BMedSci Degree
Project title: Extracellular vesicles in HPV+ and HPV- oropharyngeal cancer and their effect on macrophages in the tumour microenvironment

When did I do my BMedSci?

I did my BMedSci between the 2 nd and 3 rd BDS years starting in 2017.

My project

Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma can be categorised as being human papillomavirus positive or negative. My project looked at differences between these two subtypes in relation to the intercellular signalling within the tumour microenvironment. I isolated extracellular vesicles from cancer cells and examined their effect on macrophages, a type of immune cell found within the tumour microenvironment. As part of this research I learnt may new techniques including western blotting, transmission electron microscopy, qPCR and ELISAs.

Presentations and prizes

I was awarded a 1st Class degree for my BMedSci overall. Alongside this I won the poster prize at the University of Sheffield BMedSci presentation day. I also presented my work to the staff of the Dental School in July 2018. Outside of the University I presented my work at the annual conference of the British Society for Oral and Dental Research  n September 2019, and was awarded the Junior Colgate Prize for undergraduate research for my presentation.

What I gained from my BMedSci

I really enjoyed my year out of the traditional dental degree course and developed lots of new skills. Alongside learning new techniques in the lab I learnt how to manage my own time and workload, becoming much more independent throughout the year. The opportunity to continue with a restorative dentistry session each week allowed me to maintain my operative skills at the same time as undertaking my research project. The BMedSci also gave me an insight into academia at the same time as being a very sociable and enjoyable experience.

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