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Introduction

This is a podcast from the Nuffield Department of Medicine. We've asked Katherine Bull from the United Kingdom, why she decided to do a DPhil project in the Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM). She also talks about her research, and her experience living in Oxford.

Katherine Bull

I'm currently a student working in Richard Cornall's lab in the CCMP, which is part of the Wellcome Trust Building and the Nuffield Department of Medicine. I'm a year into my DPhil funded by the Wellcome Trust as a clinical fellowship.


The work we're doing focuses on immunity and immunogenetics within the group, and my particular focus is on applications of whole-genome sequencing, both in identifying mutants in ethylnitrosourea mutagenesis and also looking for rare human variants in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. So my work comprises predominantly of bioinformatics, analytical work, computing and statistical analysis of the data and finding new ways to mine that data for information about causative mutants for disease. I also do some more conventional lab work, analysing the mutations we find. In particular this year I've been cloning a protein kinase C alpha mutant we identified from ENU and looking at the effect that might have on the cells.

I've lived in Oxford for some years, I'm a mature student so I've known it for a while and I'm very fond of Oxford. It's a great place to work and I would say that one of the real advantages is the breadth of different kinds of research and interests people have here, the opportunities for formal and informal collaborations, opportunities to present or share your work and get advice and help is fantastic. I think one of the big benefits of being in Oxford outside of work, the town itself is beautiful, the colleges are a great place to meet people and take part in activities. Personally, I've been involved in things like a college choir at Christmas time, and college dinners are a great way to meet people and socialise. The town itself has good museums, concerts, lots of cultural activities going on. Another thing I would say is that I've got a five-year-old daughter, and I think Oxford's a good place to be with a child, childcare has been practical for us. I've been able to use the facilities at the hospital because I work within the Old Road Campus. And that's been very flexible and worked well for me.

If you want to apply for an NDM studentship, I would say go for it. It's a great place to work. Find out a lot about the groups you might be working with, and the topics they're exploring, make sure you're interested in that and that it's something you can sustain enthusiasm for four years. I would also say that you shouldn't feel that there is an Oxford type, or that you need to come from a certain background or have certain previous experiences. There's a wide range of people here from many backgrounds and I found that you can fit in somewhere.