Matthew Rees 

Graduate Research Prize Winners 2012

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As a high school student in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, my enjoyment of my biology and chemistry courses, a summer laboratory experience at Cornell University, and a desire for new and strange experiences all led me to travel across the pond and read biochemistry as an undergraduate at the quintessentially strange University of Oxford. My experiences at Oxford, particularly motivated by the instruction of Dr Mark Wormald at Corpus Christi College, first suggested to me I should pursue a career in research. My fourth-year project in the laboratory of Prof Frances Ashcroft, examining polymorphisms of the pancreatic KATP channel and their implications for neonatal diabetes, served to further this desire. 

Upon completion of my degree, I received a fellowship to work in the laboratory of Dr Francis Collins at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA for one year, researching the genetic components of type 2 diabetes. Soon after beginning this fellowship, my enthusiasm for both the research topic and working in Dr Collins’ laboratory led me to pursue a DPhil through the NIH-Oxford Graduate Partnerships Program. I was fortunate enough continue working with Dr Collins, and to join the laboratories of Dr Anna Gloyn and Prof Mark McCarthy at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolism, and have spent the past four years alternating between the NIH and Oxford. My project has focused on investigation of the functional and clinical consequences of variation within the human glucokinase regulatory protein, a critical component of blood glucose regulation and a protein of emerging importance in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes and related traits.

The training opportunities and support I received as a student within the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine were integral to my success as a graduate student and prepared me for continuing a career in scientific research. I plan to continue working at the intersection of genetics and human disease as a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA, USA.

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