“There aren’t many careers that give you the opportunity to genuinely make a difference to the world, but engineering does.”
I lead a research team developing new methods to deliver drugs that reduce the risk of harmful side effects in treating diseases such as cancer.
Currently most drugs for most diseases are given by mouth or by injection. The problem with that is that they go everywhere in the body and a very small percentage goes to the disease site. The rest is at best flushed out of the body and at worst leads to major side effects.
We’re developing vehicles – bubbles specifically – to encapsulate drugs so they are inactive until they reach the target site. We want to get as many as possible into the target region, and then trigger their release. To do this, we are using ultrasound as it’s very low risk, very convenient for doctors and patients, cheap and seems to be extremely effective. We also use magnetic fields to get the bubbles to the target area.
The opportunity to make new discoveries and develop new ideas that have the potential to make a positive difference in clinical practice.
I very much enjoy working with other scientists and particularly clinicians to understand the challenges that require engineering solutions. The conventional view of engineering is not that of a creative subject, but I would argue that creativity is an essential component of my work and it is the combination of this with the need for scientific rigour that makes it so stimulating. I also greatly enjoy working with and leading a team of researchers, often from quite different backgrounds and seeing them develop into independent scientists and engineers.
I pursued a very mixed set of subjects at school: mathematics, physics and chemistry together with Latin, art and general studies; and whilst I had always been much happier solving mathematics and physics problems than writing essays, I very much enjoyed the opportunities for independence and creativity offered by art.
After a visit to the degree show for the Industrial Design course at the Royal College of Art I was determined to pursue a career as an industrial design engineer and so enrolled as an undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering at UCL. During the final year of my degree, I became fascinated with ultrasound and subsequently the wider subject of medical physics and biomedical engineering.
I have always enjoyed making things (and taking things apart) but it was actually my art teacher who inspired me to do engineering by taking me to the Royal College of Art and showing me how science and art could be combined through engineering.
We need you! There aren’t many careers that give you the opportunity to genuinely make a difference to the world, but engineering does. It is hard work and technically demanding and we shouldn’t try to hide that, but that is more than compensated for by the sense of achievement.
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