We Are Randox | Christopher McNally climbs the career leader from Placement to PhD
The name Christopher McNally may be one that you already recognise. In 2016 he earned 1st place in the Science category of the Randox Pinnacle Placement Awards, having caught the attention of Senior Management for his pioneering work developing a new diagnostic for pancreatic cancer.
Fast-forward two years and Christopher is now back at Randox as a PhD student, conducting research in prostate cancer as part of the recently-announced Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy.
We sat down with Chris to hear all about his revolutionary prostate cancer project, what motivated him to sign up to our PhD Academy and what it’s like to be back in the place where his scientific career began.
Here’s Chris’ story.
I came into Randox when I was just 19 years old for my third year at university as part of the company’s year-long placement programme. It was a great way to truly experience a working laboratory outside of the classroom and really cemented my desire to work in biomedical science.
I was lucky enough to be placed in the company’s Donegal branch, Randox Teoranta, which is close to where I grew up in Gartan, and offered me the opportunity to carry out ground-breaking medical research surrounded by my home of Donegal.
I would highly recommend the opportunity to perform an industrial placement to anyone. It helps you to prepare for what comes after university, develops your skills in the area in which you are interested, and refines your laboratory techniques. I was delighted to hear I won in the Science Category of the Randox Pinnacle Placement Awards during my time there as well, and this really inspired a confidence in me that I had become a talented scientist even before I graduated.
When I completed my fourth year of studies at Ulster University, I graduated with a degree in Biomedical Science and Professional Practice, and returned to work for Randox. The traits and qualities I learned during my placement had subsequently brought me to post-graduate employment, and I was thrilled. I was lucky enough to be able to walk straight back into the lab knowing exactly what to do and how to do it.
Despite becoming employed within Randox straight out of university however, I had this feeling that I was not finished with regards to academic study. I knew I wanted to do more, to perform more research. So, when I heard about the Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy I really was intrigued. It was the perfect platform to further my studies and be able to give more to the scientific community.
When choosing the area of research for my PhD I was keen to hear more about a collaborative prostate cancer project led by two of Northern Ireland’s leading cancer researchers Dr Mark Ruddock (Randox) and Dr Declan McKenna (Ulster University). From my time at university and my time spent at Randox, I thought I could bring my experience and knowledge in cancer research into this project, so I thought, let’s go for it.
Ultimately, the project involves looking at prostate cancer patients as well as patients who have other non-serious prostate conditions, and recognising any potential differences in the two. We can then develop a clinical diagnostic test that can identify the men at the highest risk of prostate cancer and stratify the patients accordingly.
The earlier we can do this, the quicker a patient can be treated, or not treated as the case may be. Overdiagnosis is a significant problem in prostate cancer care and many men, who do not have prostate cancer, but present with prostate cancer-like symptoms, unfortunately go through invasive, uncomfortable and most importantly, unnecessary procedures.
This work therefore has real potential to improve the management of prostate cancer, which is currently the most common cancer in males within the UK. It’s a very rewarding field to be working in and I thoroughly enjoy the work I’m doing knowing that it will have a real-life impact on many men. I’m very proud to be able to say that my PhD research will really make a difference and I now know for certain that I will continue working in cancer research after my project is complete.
Knowing that I’m helping to improve the quality of patient’s lives brings a great deal of satisfaction that few jobs can replicate and I’m excited to see what the next three years will bring.
We’re very proud of Christopher and the amazing work he is doing in prostate cancer research, and are delighted that he has made the decision to join the Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy.
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To find out more about the Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org