We Are Randox | QUB and Ulster University Students Take The Top Spots in the Randox Placement Awards 2019
A Queen’s University Belfast student has won the top spot in global healthcare diagnostics company Randox Laboratories’ annual Student Placement Awards.
Pearce Allingham from Andersonstown, who is studying Medicinal Chemistry, was not only placed first in the Science category but was also crowned Best Overall Placement Student.
Since September 2018, Pearce had been working alongside the scientific team in the New Technology Evaluation department, taking part in the development of Randox’s newest and most classified innovations.
Speaking at the awards ceremony at Randox Laboratories HQ in Crumlin on Friday 14th June 2019, Pearce commented,
“I’m so pleased to have won this award. I couldn’t recommend a placement at Randox highly enough and it has allowed me to see what I’m capable of when I apply myself to a field I’m passionate about. From day one I was made to feel like a scientist within the team – not just a placement student – and it’s amazing that some of my contributions are helping to advance Randox’s diagnostic capabilities further. I look forward to applying my new knowledge and skills in final year and to forging a career in research – maybe even back here at Randox.”
Randox Laboratories welcomes over 60 placement students through its doors each year across Science, Engineering and Business-related disciplines, including Sales and Marketing. The company is keen to continue to maintain its reputation as a key placement provider in Northern Ireland, as explained by Linda Magee, Operations Director at Randox Laboratories.
“We host many high calibre placement students at Randox each year and the Randox Placement Awards is the pinnacle in highlighting the fantastic contribution that these students make. Pearce, in particular, impressed us with his work ethic and initiative in one of Randox’s most cutting-edge R&D teams. Gaining industry experience is vital for young people and that is why we pride ourselves on the range of placement opportunities we provide here, especially through the Randox APEX programme which offers students a paid summer placement between first and second year, a paid placement year in third year and, finally, a graduate position on completion of their degree with a 2:1 classification. It really is the complete career package for any aspiring student.”
David Boyd, a QUB Engineering student from Belfast, won in the Engineering category of the Randox Placement Awards while Andrew Wilson, an Ulster University student from Bangor, was placed first in the Business category.
David Boyd, Engineering Placement Award winner, commented,
“As part of the Engineering team, the opportunities I’ve been given here have been second-to-none and I look forward to completing my Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. I used to think I would go on to work in the energy sector with renewables and nuclear but my time in Randox has shown me a different industry which I would love to return to.”
Andrew Wilson, Business Placement Award winner, also said,
“Being given the same responsibilities as the rest of your colleagues is a great way to learn quickly as you get immersed in live projects and real business. One of the most interesting aspects for me was the opportunity to travel to Hamburg and Chicago for customer visits and conferences. Dealing with different departments such as manufacturing, finance and logistics, along with my own sales and marketing team, has given me an insight in to the workings of an international company which has been an invaluable experience.”
Randox Placement Awards 2019 results
1 Andrew Wilson (Marketing, Randox Food Diagnostics), an Ulster University student from Bangor
2 Kathryn Wilson (Sales, Randox Biosciences), an Aberystwyth University student from Larne
3 Adam Donnelly – (Marketing, Randox Corporate), an Ulster University student from Bellaghy
1 Pearce Allingham (Chemistry), a Queen’s University Belfast student from Andersonstown
2 Rachel McCloy (Biotechnology), a Liverpool John Moore’s University student from Ballymena
3 Thomas Smith-Zaitlik (Molecular), a Nottingham Trent University student from Henley-on-Thames.
1 David Boyd (Engineering Design, Mechanical), a Queen’s University Belfast student from Belfast
2 Reuben Cotton (Engineering Design, Mechanical), an Ulster University student from Lisburn
3 Niall Devlin (Engineering Design, Software)
Overall Randox Placement Awards winner: Pearce Allingham
For further information please contact the Randox PR team by emailing email@example.com or phoning 028 9442 2413
A huge congratulations is in order for Science Higher Level Apprentice Sarah Casey who battled it out at the NI WorldSkills Regional Heat on 4th June to be awarded a well-deserved second place.
This was the first WorldSkills NI Regional Heat for Laboratory Technicians and was hosted at Southern Regional College, the Life Sciences Hub for Further Education in Northern Ireland.
The laboratory technician competition is based on real life scenarios in science that demonstrate technical competence in the use of complex instrumentation, laboratory equipment and skills. The competition is designed to reflect the work of a laboratory technician and tests their skills in techniques and procedures to solve practical problems through analysis, tests and measurements while ensuring safe and ethical working practices.
“This regional heat was a fantastic opportunity for higher education students across the sector to showcase their technical and analytical abilities. The competitors have performed exceptionally well under such challenging conditions” said Dr. Asha Jamil, Life Sciences Hub Development Manager at Southern Regional College.
She continued; “Judges have come from a variety of specialist scientific backgrounds from both education and industry across the UK and I am delighted that competitors from NI had this opportunity to demonstrate their range of skills on such a prestigious platform. Judges also commented that they were highly impressed by all the competitors’ technical and analytical skills and their professional approach to this challenging competition.”
Judges were representatives from Middlesex University, Norbrook Laboratories, and also included the current Team UK Laboratory Technician winner, Tonicha Roberts, who is a Forensic Reporting Scientist with Eurofins Forensic Services, UK.
Competitors came from a range of higher education programmes from across the NI sector including Foundation Degrees and Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA) programmes. The HLA students study their underpinning Ulster University Foundation Degrees at Southern Regional College (Newry and Portadown campuses) and are employed with Norbrook Laboratories, Randox and Almac.
Sarah Casey, who was awarded second place, is currently a Southern Regional College student completing the Higher Level Apprenticeship in Applied Industrial Sciences (Life Sciences Pathway) in the Randox Science Park in Antrim. Sarah also won Southern Regional College’s Science Competition in January 2019.
The top performing competitors across the UK will now have a nail-biting wait to see if they have scored high enough to qualify for the WorldSkills UK Final at Birmingham’s NEC in November. We wish Sarah the best of luck!
Randox IT are recruiting and are looking for enthusiastic team players. Here at Randox, our IT team work from the state-of-the-art Randox Science Park in Antrim, only a short walk away from the town centre and Antrim Train Station.
Whether you’re interested in a placement or graduate position, or are already experienced in your IT field, there are roles at Randox IT for you.
Randox IT staff work in the following areas;
- Software Testing
- Software Development
- IT Operations
- Web Development
- IT Support
Randox IT are in a unique position to work in a company that helps people to live healthier for longer. The vision of Randox is one of ambition, innovation and commitment to improving health worldwide. We firmly believe that the healthcare of tomorrow depends on the innovations developed today. We are advancing cutting-edge science and technologies that hold the key to groundbreaking improvements in diagnostics and healthcare.
In recent years, we’ve developed diagnostics tests for stroke, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and many more, as well as the development of workplace drug testing kits, animal feed tests and food tests for milk, wine and honey. Randox IT are key to making this all possible.
Every day is different here but, ultimately, our teams are working to constantly evolve and improve our diagnostic capabilities around the world so that we can help to make a difference to global healthcare.
Randox is a global company with its roots firmly in Northern Ireland. Randox IT work with the latest technologies and software developments, allowing staff to even get to grips with unreleased prototypes. We always strive to expose our staff to the latest in IT innovation, not only to improve healthcare worldwide, but to continually expand the skills of all our teams.
If working in a close-knit, friendly team with access to cutting-edge technology sounds like the kind of place you’ve been looking for, why not get in touch?
Visit https://www.careers.randox.com to see all our current vacancies or email your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Evidence Investigator is a compact, semi-automated benchtop analyser which is renowned for its versatility, robustness and effective reporting methods. The Evidence Investigator has offered efficient and comprehensive testing in a wide range of laboratory settings for many years including, clinical diagnostics, molecular, research, toxicology and food diagnostics.
The Evidence Investigator is the perfect fit for medium throughput laboratories seeking maximum use of bench space and can process up to 44 results from a single sample, with a maximum throughput of up to 2376 tests per hour.
It is extremely well equipped to provide reliable and accurate results because results are generated using Charge Coupled Device (CCD) camera, which quantifies chemiluminescent light. The light then measures the degree of binding between the sample and specific biochip bound ligands. The Evidence Investigator image processing software translates light signal generated from chemiluminescent reactions into analyte concentrations which removes the need for any manual processing of data.
Our molecular product range offers diagnostic, prognostic and predictive solutions across a variety of disease areas including sexually transmitted infection (STI), respiratory tract infection, colorectal cancer, familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Additionally, we can provide a wide range of assay formats including single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) genotyping, pathogen detection and mutation detection. The technology allows simultaneous detection of multiple analytes from a single sample for efficient and cost-effective testing.
STI and Respiratory Arrays
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) affect more than 1 million people every day and each year 500 million new cases of STIs occur.1 Therefore, it is vital for early and accurate detection. Randox’s Sexually Transmitted Infections Multiplex Array simultaneously detects 10 bacterial, viral and protozoan including primary, secondary and asymptomatic co-infection for a complete infection profile. The assay is based on a combination of multiplex PCR and biochip array hybridisation. Innovative PCR priming technology permits high discrimination between multiple targets.
Respiratory tract infections are caused by many viral and bacterial pathogens and are the second most common cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.2 The Respiratory Multiplex Array is the most comprehensive screening test for infections of both the upper and lower respiratory tracts, simultaneously detecting 22 bacterial and viral pathogens from a single sputum lavage or nasopharyngeal sample.
Both arrays detect the most common and frequently requested infections in sexual and respiratory health. These comprehensive, highly sensitive and specific tests enable identification of co-infections simultaneously, often in asymptomatic patients and enable antibiotic stewardship.
KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA Array and Familial Hypercholesterolemia Arrays I & II
The colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer worldwide. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is: about 1 in 22 (4.49%) for men and 1 in 24 (4.15%) for women.3 The KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA Array simultaneously detects 20 point mutations within the KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA genes. The assay is validated for use with the DNA extracted from fresh/frozen and formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue. The array is CE marked for routine clinical use.
Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a genetic disorder of lipoprotein metabolism. 4It is the most common autosomal dominant, or inherited disease and affects the plasma clearance of LDL-cholesterol, resulting in premature onset of cardiovascular disease and higher mortality risk.5 Early diagnosis is crucial as by the time the FH sufferer enters early adulthood they will have accumulated >20 years of continuous exposure to build up of fatty or lipid masses in the arterial walls and are at the hundred-fold greater risk of a heart attack than other young people. The Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) Arrays I & II are rapid, simple and accurate detection of 40 FH-causing mutations within the LDLR ApoB and PCSK9 genes.
These unique biochip assays permit high discrimination between multiple targets in several genes with a rapid turnaround time (3 hours). The arrays enable detection of the most frequently occurring mutations known to cause disease (FH) and adversely affect patient treatment (KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA). A unique primer set is designed for each target which will hybridise to a complimentary oligo-nucleotide probe spotted on a biochip discrete test region (DTR).
Cardiovascular Risk Prediction Array
Coronary Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world and its prevention is a core activity for public health systems worldwide.6 Randox have the Cardiac Risk Prediction Array which will allow for 19 SNPs to be genotyped simultaneously, which incorporate a test to identify patients predisposed to statin-induced myopathy.
This array identifies individuals with a genetic predisposition to coronary heart disease (CHD). The innovative multiplex primers are designed to discriminate DNA sequences which differ only at one base.
For more information on our Evidence Series or Molecular range of Assays, contact us at email@example.com
There are many different science roles at Randox which require many different skillsets – and there are as many different pathways to get to them! One such pathway is the Higher Level Apprenticeship offered by Randox in collaboration with Northern and Southern Regional Colleges.
Sarah Casey is both a Randox Higher Level Apprentice and a student at Portadown Southern Regional College. We caught up with her fresh from her win at the Southern Regional College Science Competition in January 2019.
Sarah, congratulations on winning the science award at Southern Regional College!
Please tell us more about the Science Competition you took part in – and won – at Southern Regional College.
The competition was held at the SRC Newry Campus and consisted of two experiments. I competed against other students from Randox, Almac and Norbrook.
For the first experiment, I had to find the concentration of an unknown sample of copper sulphate. I carried out a serial dilution using a known concentration of copper sulphate and then found the absorbance of each of the standards. I then found the absorbance for the unknown sample as well. From this I was able to plot a graph and determine the concentration of the unknown sample.
For the second experiment, I had to carry out a titration of iodine against sodium thiosulphate. I added the sodium thiosulphate to the iodine solution until the solution appeared pale yellow. I added a few drops of the starch indicator and continued titrating until the solution appeared colourless. I recorded the titre and then repeated the titration two more times to find an average titre. I then had to complete several questions relating to this experiment.
What did you study before you applied for the Higher Level Apprenticeship?
I previously studied A-Levels at St. Joseph’s Grammar school, undertaking Biology, Chemistry and Digital Technology. I always had a keen interest in science when I was younger so after studying Biology and Chemistry for A-Level I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in this field. In school I enjoyed the practical aspect of subjects which lead me to want to take part in this Higher Level Apprenticeship.
Where are you currently studying and what do you like most about your course?
I am studying the Life Science pathway of Applied Industrial Science at Portadown Southern Regional College. This course is based on biology and I have just finished semester one. I enjoy learning about buffer solutions, oxidation and redox reaction. For semester two, I look forward to studying physiology and continue to gain more knowledge about biology.
How did you hear about Higher Level Apprenticeships at Randox?
I heard about the higher level apprenticeship from my Careers teacher at school. He highly recommended that we tried out for the apprenticeship. After I applied after carrying out some research online. I was then offered a place here at Randox and started in September 2018.
Could you give a brief description of a typical day at Randox for you?
At the moment, I am based in the QC Serum department carrying out value assignments for Randox products. On a typical day I will come into work and carry out the daily maintenance on the RX Daytona and Imola. I will then have a look through the assignment folder to check what lots need to be assigned a value. I will gather the calibrator, controls and test lots in order to reconstitute them. While they are rolling, I will collect the necessary reagents. The test is then carried out. Afterwards I will type up the results into a spreadsheet to check if the lots have passed. I can carry out nest tests, two-day assignments and calibrator validations for chemistrys, lipids and cardiac. In between runs, I check sheets that are sent to customers.
What qualifications will you have when your Higher Level Apprenticeship at Randox ends?
I will finish my apprenticeship in September 2020. Since joining Randox only a few months ago I have already gained so many invaluable skills. By the end of this apprenticeship I hope to be competent with most or all the analysers used at Randox while continuing to exhibit good laboratory practice. At the end of the apprenticeship I will gained a foundation degree in Applied Industrial Sciences. I can then progress onto year two of Biomedical Science at Ulster University.
Would you recommend a Higher Level Apprenticeship at Randox to someone else and why?
I would highly recommend the higher level apprenticeship. It is a great experience and provides all the necessary skills required to pursue a career in this industry. Also, it allows you to earn while you learn so it’s a win-win situation as a student!
For more information about Sarah’s story or to hear more about the Higher Level Apprenticeship at Randox, please contact RandoxPR@randox.com.
Do you have a flair for science? Are you an electronic, mechanical or software engineering expert? Or, perhaps, you are a mastermind of manufacturing know-how. There are world-leading careers on offer for world-leading candidates at Randox Teoranta in Dungloe this December.
That’s the message that global diagnostics firm Randox Teoranta wants to send to students, graduates and experienced professionals alike as it opens its doors to the public once again on Monday 24th December 2018.
Held from 9am to 12noon, the morning is an opportunity for those interested in science, engineering, software development and manufacturing roles in Donegal to have a tour of the state-of-the-art facility and chat with Randox Teoranta staff members about the careers on offer.
Randox Teoranta is particularly passionate about attracting back those who have left Ireland to find careers further afield due to lack of opportunities in their particular vocations. Dream careers in science, engineering and manufacturing are available on the doorstep in Dungloe.
Dr. Ciaran Richardson, Head of Research & Development at Randox Teoranta, commented;
“At Randox Teoranta, we’re constantly pushing the boundaries of healthcare and diagnostic capabilities, allowing us to offer world-class career opportunities in the heart of Donegal.
“Our scientists are working on a range of research projects which will lead to quicker diagnoses of conditions such as stroke, gastrointestinal disorders and chronic kidney disease. In 2016, our scientists even developed a pioneering new test to determine a patient’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“There are also opportunities for software developers, electronic & embedded systems engineers, validation and mechanical engineers as our technology continues to advance to accommode our scientific breakthroughs.
“Our manufacturing department also boasts a number of competitive roles which are essential to Randox Teoranta’s continuation as a world leader in healthcare diagnostics and associated technology.
“There are fantastic career opportunities here in one of the most beautiful parts of the world – and the quality of life is second-to-none.”
There are a wide variety of career opportunities available at Randox Teoranta. From placement opportunities for college and university students to graduate roles in a variety of fields, young scientists and engineers have the opportunity to get their ‘big break’ on the career ladder with a globally-recognised company.
There are also opportunities for experienced and driven individuals looking for a smart career move. Randox Teoranta offer competitive salaries, career progression, personal development and the opportunity to work in a cutting-edge company paving the way in ground-breaking global health diagnostics.
Healthcare shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. Neither should your career.
Randox Teoranta’s Open Morning will take place on Monday 24th December 2018 from 9:00 until 12:00 at Randox Teoranta, Meenmore, Dungloe, Co. Donegal.
Students, graduates and experienced professionals are welcome to visit along with their family and friends. Potential candidates are welcome to bring their CV on the day or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Booking is not required, however, more information, including directions, can be found by searching Randox at www.eventbrite.ie.
More information about the open day can also be found by contacting +353 7495 22600 or emailing RandoxPR@randox.com.
Randox Laboratories and Ulster University have launched a £5 million skills development initiative to support up to 10 individuals annually through PhD level study in the Life Sciences sector.
The Randox-Ulster University-Industrial PhD Academy, which aims to encourage the development of advanced, higher level skills in key industry sectors, will further reinforce Ulster University’s position as one of the top universities for biomedical related research impact and, enhance Randox’s competitiveness in the growing global healthcare sector.
Up to ten PhD researchers will be supported annually, including Randox employees and individuals from the wider sector, who are working on a range of scientific projects, with the ultimate goal of new product development. They will have the opportunity to work on new research projects, driven by industry and jointly supervised by Ulster University and Randox, to enhance their own individual skill sets whilst delivering groundbreaking advances in the life sciences sector. Ulster University and Randox will each fully fund up to five PhD researchers annually.
To date PhD researchers enrolled in this new programme of Industrial Research have started exciting projects in areas of medicine including mental health, diabetes and cancer, with more projects being developed. All projects share the common goal of delivering new diagnostic approaches for early detection of disease and earlier intervention where possible.
Professor Alastair Adair Deputy Vice-Chancellor Ulster University said:
“Ulster University is renowned globally for research in personalised medicine, cancer, diabetes and mental health and this makes us the perfect fit for a global industry leader like Randox. Ulster University and Randox have a longstanding partnership built around research, knowledge sharing and collaboration which has placed both organisations at the forefront of diagnostics and health research globally.”
Ulster University Professor of Personalised Medicine Tara Moore, said:
“The life sciences sector is of critical importance to our economy and health. To truly maximise our contribution to the economy and to fully exploit new advances in science and technology we must focus on advancing the skills of our workforce, ensuring the most talented people reach their full potential by working with partners to tackle new challenges and drive new discoveries. A strong and growing life sciences sector ensures patients will continue to benefit from new technologies which will help to improve diagnosis getting them the treatment they need quickly.”
“This new Industrial PhD Academy is a further step forward in our commitment to respond to national priorities such as the Industrial Strategy, aligning the research community with industry to drive innovation, building on the world-leading reputation of Randox and supporting a new generation of researchers in this strategically important sector.”
Dr Peter FitzGerald, Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, said;
“At this time of rapid and significant change in the UK, it is critical that the next-generation can meet industry’s ever-changing demands. The current STEM skills shortage costs the economy £1.5bn/year and will only be resolved if all companies in the sector recognise they have a role to play now too.
“In the last 4 months, we have made significant investments within Northern Ireland, in both R&D infrastructure and now in helping aspirational scientists at Ulster University to develop the critical skills to make a positive difference to patient healthcare around the world. We are unapologetically ambitious in our determination to cement Northern Ireland’s reputation as a global hub for life sciences and our own position as a worldwide leader.”
For further information about the Randox UU PhD Academy please contact Randox PR by email: email@example.com or by phone: 028 9442 2413
An Ulster University marketing student has won the top spot in global healthcare manufacturer Randox Laboratories’ annual Student Placement Awards.
Matthew Steele from Bushmills fought off stiff competition from fellow placement students in science and engineering programmes by attracting the judges’ attention for the work he carried out within two new and novel ventures taken on by the company.
In recent years, the founder of Randox Laboratories, Dr Peter FitzGerald, has extended his business portfolio to include the Bushmills-based Dundarave Estate and Cherryvalley Farm in Crumlin. Matthew’s focus has been to develop and promote tourism activities at the Estate, such as clay pigeon shooting, as well as Cherryvalley Farm produce. He worked with the company’s IT department and Finance team to complete various projects and created a digital communications strategy.
Additionally, when Matthew was faced with the familiar catch-all that employees may find themselves asked to carry out additional tasks, he won plaudits within the company for stepping in to dip sheep on one occasion!
Speaking after the awards ceremony Matthew commented;
“Placement has been amazing for me and I would encourage everyone to do it. The year has gone so quickly, because you get thrown in straightaway. You’re not seen as a placement student – you’re a member of staff right from the start. This experience has given me so much, widening my business knowledge and teaching me so many new skills. It’s been great.”
Department winners in the engineering and science placement programmes are respectively Ulster University student Dale Love from Ballymena and Jamie Boyd, a Queen’s University Belfast student from Cookstown.
Across the company, 39 university students took part in this year’s placement programme. Lasting 50 weeks, the initiative provides young people with the experience needed to pursue a career in their chosen field.
Linda Magee, Head of Randox Human Resources, commented;
“We are delighted for all our winners in this year’s placement awards. Matthew, in particular, impressed us with creative and successful strategies, and the wholehearted approach he brings to working with us. The Randox Placement Programme is one of our most important initiatives, because gaining industry-experience is now critical for young people. Randox is committed to developing meaningful ways of supporting them, and we are encouraged year after year by the calibre of students who apply to join us.”
For further information about the Randox Placement Awards please contact Randox PR by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 028 9442 2413
What is health care? When we think of caring for our health, we think of going to the doctor when we feel ill. The healthcare cycle we’re accustomed to is one where we wait for symptoms to present themselves and then we visit a doctor, hoping to be prescribed medication to limit our symptoms.
Is this really health care? Are we really caring for our bodies in the best way possible by waiting for illness to manifest itself? What if we could properly look after our bodies by taking action early to stop illness in its tracks?
The key to this is identifying indicators of pre-illness, and the technology that allows you to do this is now available directly to you through Randox Health.
After investing over £220 million in the invention and production of revolutionary blood-science technology, a single Randox Health check will deliver a complete picture of your health – as it is now and crucially how it is likely to develop in the future.
Randox Health has proven that signs of disease or irregularity can be caught at their earliest stage. This means that, with early action, some cases of illness can even be prevented altogether. Our health checks include, but are not limited to, cancer surveillance, fertility monitoring, heart health, nutrition, digestive and diabetes health.
In other words, from one health check, you’ll receive up to 350 results and afterwards avail of expert advice from the Randox scientists or a Randox Health GP. Not only that, but a complete 12-month programme and repeat testing come as standard so you can have full confidence that you are really taking care of yourself.
Look out for our new ‘Health Made Simple’ blogs beginning next week, where we’ll be delving in to the sophisticated science and diagnostic tests that power each Randox Health check.
You’ll find out about our Everyman, Everywoman and our Signature health checks, as well as our Specialised testing options which focus on specific health issues.
Find out more and start your Randox Health journey today.
For further information, please contact the Randox PR team via email: email@example.com or phone 028 9442 2413
Behind the doors of Randox, ground breaking scientific research is happening.
From Alzheimer’s disease to gastro-intestinal disorders, bladder cancer to cardiovascular disease, diabetes to kidney injury, our team of R&D scientists work on pioneering research projects in the areas of health that matter most, and ultimately, they save lives.
This week, we spoke to Carol Naughton, R&D Scientist in our Randox Teoranta team in Donegal, who has recently been part of an award-winning film documentary which aims to let people into the minds, the labs and the projects of scientists working on pioneering health research like that which takes place in Randox.
The film project, called ‘Feats of Modest Valour’, focuses on the lives of three individuals with Parkinson’s disease, Brian, Tom and Milena, and on a team of scientists working to find a cure for the condition. Aiming to bridge the gap between scientists and the very people the research will have the most impact on, Carol explains how working with Parkinson’s disease sufferers was the most humbling experience of her life.
Here’s Carol’s story.
The opportunity to be involved with Feats of Modest Valour (FOMV) was a gradual one. It was towards the end of my PhD when my supervisor, Dr. Eilis Dowd was awarded a grant as part of an EU consortium called Horizon 2020, with a new initiative to cure Parkinson’s disease. One of the remits of being in receipt of this grant was a community outreach programme called Science on Screen, and because of this, the Feats of Modest Valour documentary was born. It was commissioned by the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) and the Galway UNESCO City of Film and Galway Film Centre.
Several projects were pitched to film makers to connect with the general public, and as a result of our pitch which revolved around the gene-environment interaction and increased susceptibility in Parkinson’s disease, ISHKA Films (Alice McDowell and Mia Mullarkey) production company decided to focus on our work. As part of the Horizon 2020 grant, the brain mattrain project is focussing on the development of a new biomedical device for Parkinson’s disease which will, for the first time, target the underlying cause of Parkinson’s disease rather than purely addressing the motor symptoms.
One of the most appealing aspects of the project was the platform for engaging with the general public. There is so much fascinating research being performed for a host of diseases all over Ireland but yet there sometimes seems to be a disconnect between that and the very people who the research will have the most impact on.
This was something we were very interested in when we hosted a conference in Galway in 2014. For the NECTAR (Network for European CNS Transplantation and Restoration) conference, which brings together a unique audience of clinicians and scientists from all over the world to disseminate their research and results of clinical trials. We wanted to do something different, to broaden the scope of the conference, so we integrated a patient-oriented focus into the programme. The founder of Cure Parkinson’s UK, Tom Isaacs (1968-2017), who was diagnosed with the disease when he was only 27, attended the event and spoke passionately about trying to bridge the gap between clinicians, scientists and patients. Being part of FOMV gave us the opportunity to do this, to merge science and real life.
It helped therefore that I had been spending quite a lot of time with Brian and with people from the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland. It has several branches all over the country so I spent quite a lot of time talking with them, organising charity walks, hosting information days and securing funding for speech and language therapists for them. Considering the wealth of knowledge that you can acquire throughout the course of a PhD, it is really rewarding being able to give something back.
When I look back, easily the best part about FOMV was spending time with people with Parkinson’s disease. It is quite easy to forget the bigger picture, the reason why you set out to do research in the first place. This was an opportunity for me to interact with people who were suffering with Parkinson’s disease and talk with them and explain to them about our research. The platform for relaying scientific research to the general public is definitely an under-utilised one. For the majority of research, people do not know what is going on. When the tailor for the documentary was first shown to people, the most common response you heard back was: “I can’t believe this is happening on our backdoor,” or “That was so easy to follow and to understand,” or “Why don’t more scientists do this to explain their research to us?”
Our documentary was recently submitted to a film festival in New York called the Imagine Science Films (ISF) festival, in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The select jury included Nobel prize-winning scientist Professor Martin Chalfe, and award-winning science columnist for the New York Times, Professor Carl Zimmer.
We were absolutely delighted when FOMV won The Scientist Award, which is awarded to a film that portrays, accurately and importantly inventively, the life of a scientist. The goal of this award is to encourage more scientists to create films that let people into their minds, into their labs and into their lifestyle. In addition to the top science award, FOMV was also awarded runner up People’s Choice Award. This award is presented to the documentary that receives the most audience votes during the festival.
Being part of Feats of Modest Valour was definitely one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. I have met so many people who suffer with Parkinson’s disease and in the face of such a relentless disease, they have such incredible resolve to make the most of their lives. We tend to take so much for granted and forget to appreciate the little things. And while that sounds very clichéd, Milena, Brian and Tom are no longer in a position to do that. They live a completely clockwork existence based around the particular time when they take their medication. And even then, their days are more bad than good.
That’s why the title of the documentary ‘Feats of Modest Valour’ is based on a poem called ‘No signs of struggle,’ by an American poet named Robin Morgan, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease;
“You can spot it in the provocation of a button, an arm poking at a sleeve, a balancing act at a night-time curb while negotiating the dark. Feats of such modest valour, who would suspect them to be exercises in an intimate, fierce discipline, a metaphysics of being relentlessly aware.”
Make sure to tune in to RTE One on Sunday 12th of November, when ‘Feats of Modest Valour’ is on at 10.35pm.
For current vacancies in our team, visit careers.randox.com