Do Something Great Banner

Claire Fitton

Part of

Job Title: PhD student, School of Medicine, University of Dundee.
Area of Science: Anatomy, Medical research.
Claire Fitton - Women In STEM

Introduce yourself - who are you and what is your job?

Hi, everyone, my name's Claire and I'm a PhD student at the University of Dundee. This means that I'm a scientist. I went to university to learn all about how the human body works so now I do lots of research to help doctors and surgeons make sure that the treatments that they want to give their patients are safe.

What do you research, why and how does this help people?

I work anatomical models to help doctors and surgeons ensure the cardiovascular treatments they are giving to patients are safe. Watch the video to find out more!

Tell us about your career journey so far

I am at the beginning of my career as a researcher so a very short story so far. I studied anatomy at university for my undergraduate degree, and then I went on to do a Masters in Forensic Anthropology. From here I went on to do my PhD which I’m still completing. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a job in a university doing research when I’m done!

What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?

If you wanted to be a scientist by me, then subjects like biology and chemistry are really important. If you enjoy them, then you could go to university and learn about a particular part of science. I really enjoyed learning about the human body and that's called anatomy, but there are lots of different science courses that you can take!

Transcript

Hi, everyone, my name's Claire and I'm a PhD student at the University of Dundee. This means that I'm a scientist. When I was younger, I decided that I wanted to be a scientist. So I went to university to learn all about how the human body works. Now, I do lots of research to help doctors and surgeons make sure that the treatments that they want to give their patients are safe. To explain a bit more about my research. I've got some images to show you.

So here we have a human body. Our body has tubes all over it that you can see here, there are tubes called arteries and the blue tubes are called veins if we take a look inside these arteries. We can see there are lots of these blobs, and these are called red blood cells, the red blood cells take oxygen from the air we breathe in to all the cells of our body so they can do their job properly. But sometimes if we don't look after ourselves and are unhealthy for a longer period of time, what can happen is that these arteries and tubes can get blocked with all this yellow stuff like you can see on the right there. And now these red blood cells can't get through or not as many can like they could before like the artery on the left. If this happens, then a doctor can help and I've got a video to show you how. A doctor can take a stronger tube, made out a special metal and enter the artery like they are here. They can travel through the artery to the place where the blockage is and we'll see that in a minute with some of the yellow stuff we saw before. Once they've reached the site of the blockage, this tube can then be expanded with a balloon below it. This pushes the blockage to the side that the balloon is removed and the red blood cells we saw earlier will now be able to travel back through and get to the cells.

However, before this treatment was tried in a patient for the first time, it was tried in a model first and any new treatment will be tried in a model first. It's my job to see if our model is realistic. So how similar is it to a living patient? Because if we can show that it is similar, then we can do lots of tests and make sure that the treatment is safe. A typical day for me would be spent inside the lab doing lots of these tests, sometimes looking down a microscope and sometimes looking online to see if any other researchers have done any work that can help me. The great thing about my job is that I get to meet lots of other scientists and doctors and people who are excited about science and want to help people. If you wanted to be a scientist by me, then you would have to pay attention in science. And then when you move up through school, you can take subjects like biology and chemistry, and if you enjoy them, then you could go to university. I really enjoyed learning about the human body and that's called anatomy. But there are lots of different science courses that you can take. I hope I've given you an example of how exciting science can be and how it can help people.

Claire Fitton
Claire Fitton, PhD student, School of Medicine, University of Dundee

If you have enjoyed these activities please share them with your friends and family.