A Day in the Life of a Principal Laboratory Research Scientist

11th September 2017

Science Warehouse recently contacted a number of end users of our eMarketplace so that we could find out how researchers and scientists use our solutions and get an insight into their working day.

Clive, Principal Laboratory Research Scientist from the Francis Crick Institute is featured in this interview.

Can you provide us with an overview of your current role and what you are currently researching?

Our lab is named the Adult Stem Cell Laboratory, which is led by Dr Axel Behrens and we comprise of 16 members, of which 14 are wet scientists and 2 are dry scientists – a Group Leader and a Scientific Writer.

My role is Principal Laboratory Research Scientist and comprises a broad remit involving research and all the laboratory management.

We are currently investigating adult stem cell function in disease. Briefly by way of introduction every organ harbours adult stem cells which have the potential for long-term replication, together with the capacities of self-renewal and multi-lineage differentiation. These qualities of stem cells allow normal tissue homeostasis and also contribute to regeneration in response to injury. Many cancers involve transforming mutations that occur in tissue-specific progenitor cells. This has determined our major focus in attempting to elucidate the molecular mechanisms governing stem cell function. As well as studying tumour development using sophisticated in vivo and in vitro genetic models, we are now also applying our knowledge of stem cells and cellular differentiation mechanisms to diabetes.

How long do you intend your current project to be/take?

Our current projects are core funded for 5 year cycles and in that time we hope to make ground-breaking and novel findings which we hope to translate into the development of therapeutics to treat and ultimately cure human diseases. We are reviewed every 5 years by a panel of external international experts who evaluate whether the quality and research output of the lab is of the highest scientific excellence.  This evaluation and proposed future directions of research determine the next funding cycle.

What do you hope your final findings will be?

In our research, we ask a question about a particular problem or disease and we then hope that our findings will lead to the development of new drugs and therapies to alleviate the symptoms of the disease(s) and at best, find a cure. We are currently working hard to make significant progress in our diabetes studies and colon, lung, pancreatic cancer work. We hope that this will lead to the development of molecules to treat the studied cancers and pathologies in collaboration with internal and external partners and also with the pharma industry.

Can you provide us with an overview of a typical day for you?

I usually arrive around 8am each day. Like most jobs there is no typical day as priorities change almost as soon as the day begins. What I tend to do straight away is first update any order requests from the team that were pending from the previous evening.  I then receipt any items that have already been delivered and posted onto my tasks within the Agresso platform, followed by reviewing and authorising pending orders for other labs where I am the designated approve.

Once I’ve got a handle on these and many other items, and more importantly after my first coffee of the day, I’ll enter the lab and start my experiments. The day tends then to revolve around juggling all this with a primary focus on making things run smoothly in the lab.

I am also the primary contact for the lab regarding any issues with Health & Safety, core facilities, Human Resources to ensure effective and transparent communication between all parties.

On a weekly basis, I will do a stock-take of our most common and essential reagents, as well as checking our budget status as I am the Deputy Budget Holder for our lab for core and grant funding so need to be in tune with the budgetary activities of the lab.

How much of your time is spent on the Science Warehouse eMarketplace?

I spend about 2 hours a day on the eMarketplace – in the morning I spend a solid hour, then during the rest of the day it is on and off but probably equates to another hour.

Do you have any specific examples of when you have purchased items from the eMarketplace and can share some stories of your experience?

Having worked in this field for over 16 years, previously with Cancer Research UK and now at the Francis Crick Institute, the Science Warehouse eMarketplace is by far the best procurement system I have used.

Finding items in the eMarketplace is very easy as long as the catalogues are loaded and up to date. Having the price comparisons between Suppliers is a great advantage and helps to keep Suppliers on their toes and competitive. This also allows us to let Suppliers know if their pricing has become expensive or uncompetitive and gives them the opportunity to address this to keep their market share or lose it.

The PunchOut to certain Suppliers is invaluable, for example we order a lot of Oligonucleotides for cloning and Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the ability to be able to punch out to a Supplier with items loaded into their Excel order sheet and then bring the shopping cart back into the system, makes the process very convenient and time-saving.

I also like the fact that special offers and marketplace news is placed on the front of the ordering page.

To be frank, I would be lost without the eMarketplace and my job would be significantly more arduous, frustrating and time-consuming.

Clive, Principal Laboratory Research Scientist, the Francis Crick Institute

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