Dr Nicola Morrice
Part of Women in STEM
Hello, I'm Dr. Nicola Morrice, and I'm a post-doctoral research assistant in the Division of Cellular Medicine in the School of Medicine at the University of Dundee. In my research, I focus on trying to understand how a condition called Type 2 diabetes develops and how it causes different complications in the body.
What is type 2 diabetes?
So type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is no longer able to control the amount of sugar that is in the blood and a hormone called insulin becomes unresponsive in the body. And this causes a whole host of complications such as heart disease, peripheral limb disease, and even conditions such as dementia. So it causes a huge disease burden. Almost four million people in the UK now suffer from Type 2 diabetes.
What do I research?
So in our research, we're trying to understand how the condition develops so that we can try and reduce the burden of the complications from the disease and bring new and improved treatments for patients to allow them to lead healthier lives.
What's a typical day like?
So my job, I don't really have a typical day, there's a whole host of different responsibilities and things that we do from the day to day to get the research done. In a normal lab day, I would go into the laboratory and do a lot of different experiments to try and model how Type 2 diabetes develops. So we use systems called cell culture systems. So these we grow cells that are like human cells and animal cells, and we will treat them with a whole host of different chemicals and medicines to try and understand how the disease develops and to understand how we can reverse it. I also have a role in teaching in the laboratory, so we often have a lot of honours students who are doing their undergraduate degrees and Ph.D. Students who I help to teach as well. I often as well we will go to conferences and we'll make posters and give talk on the research that we're doing. So we share our findings with the wider community of scientists and we also publish papers and abstracts that we show what research we've been doing in the lab. So there's a whole different mix of skills that's involved with doing the research job. So the thing I like most about my job is that it can be really exciting. You're looking at new areas of biology that's never been explored before, so you can get a result and you could be the first person that's ever seen that result, which is really, really interesting. And it's really good to be able to have a job where you're pushing through new boundaries of knowledge and trying to understand how disease develops and to improve people's lives that are suffering from those conditions.
My career journey so far
To get the job that I currently have, I had to do both undergraduate and postgraduate degree. So I did my BSc in biochemistry here at the University of Dundee and I graduated in 2013. So during that time, I was lucky to do a summer lab project between my third and fourth years, and that really helped to give me the skills that I needed then to go and further my research career. I did my Ph.D. at the University of Aberdeen, and that's when I first started focussing on diabetes research, so I worked in a different area of research that I from now I work on. So I worked on a group of chemicals called retinoids and how they are changed and how they can be used treat obesity and type 2 diabetes. So all that skills and experience helped then to give me the skills that I needed to do the job I do now within the University of Dundee.
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