We Are Randox | Parkinson’s disease documentary leads to Film Festival Award for R&D Scientist Carol Naughton
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
Did you know that in partnership with Southern Regional College, Randox offers an industrial apprenticeship scheme?
This month our first group of Randox apprentices completed this Foundation Degree in Applied Industrial Science, and we’re delighted to announce that Grace Catney, an apprenticeship from our Quality Control division, has graduated with a first class degree!
We sat down for a chat with Grace to find out how she has found the apprenticeship experience, and what she wants to let students know about what it’s like to do an apprenticeship with Randox.
This is what Grace had to say:
After completing one year of my A-levels I applied for a BTEC National Diploma in Applied Science, having realised that doing A-levels wasn’t the path I wanted to take. For young students I think it’s so important to let them know that there is no one correct path to your dream job. Going directly into university isn’t for everyone, and completing the National Diploma was the best decision I made for my own education, as I gathered the hands on experience in the laboratory that I wouldn’t have had if I was to finish my A levels. During my National Diploma which lasted 2 years, I worked in my family’s chip shop and in Starbucks, which was also so fundamental in teaching me how to balance work, education and leisure.
Then when I gained a Triple Merit in my BTEC, my tutor from Southern Regional College made me aware of the apprenticeship with Randox, and so I went along to an interview which lasted around 20-30 minutes. Four people were chosen to take part in the apprenticeship programme, with three out of the four people having been on the BTEC course with me. The other apprenticeship came from a previous job and already had a masters degree. The apprenticeship programme is open to people from all walks of life.
The apprenticeship itself is a 2 year programme made up of one day a week in the Southern Regional College in Portadown, and four days a week working in Randox. At college I studied a range of modules including Biochemistry, Genetics, Professional Practice, Laboratory Procedures, Physiology, Cell Biology, Chemistry and Mathematical Statistics, and at Randox I completed 3 rotations working within Production, Biochip Quality Control and R&D Quality Control.
Carrying out the apprenticeship has helped me improve so much in many areas. Working and completing the Foundation Degree is very intense, as you are simultaneously studying for exams and learning new work skills within your department. But the benefit is that you can apply what you are being taught to your work as soon as you learn it, which makes understanding the concepts so much easier.
The most enjoyable part of the apprenticeship was the rotation through different departments. This helped me to learn a lot about the work that goes on – from the initial production of a Reagent, to Microbiology, Quality Control, Quality Assurance and then shipping to customers. Being in multiple departments has allowed me to see different stages along the production life of a product, while getting to know many incredibly talented employees throughout the company.
Working for such a globally successful company has given me the opportunity to see how science is changing the world, and to be a part of it, and it has also given me an advantage over full-time university students, because I already have 2 years’ experience in the science industry and a job secured. Education is important, but in the science industry experience is essential, and that’s what I am thankful to Randox for.
I have been treated as an employee, and not just a student. The responsibilities with which my managers have entrusted me with have given me a real insight into the role of an analyst, and the different rotations helped me to determine what area of science I would prefer to work in.
When I came into Randox all I knew is that I wanted a hands-on, practical job that would help make a difference in the world of healthcare. When I completed my final rotation in R&D Quality Control, I knew that it was the department I could see myself in permanently, and so I was delighted when I was offered a full time job.
Knowing that my work over the past few months in Quality Control has been to a level high enough to be offered a permanent job is a very good feeling. Many students come out of university with a degree but cannot find a job. I’ve done the opposite of that in some ways – I secured a job first before moving on to the next stage of my degree! The only condition of the job was that we had to pass the foundation course, and so luckily I got a first overall.
I feel a mixture of nerves and excitement knowing that I’m going to be completing my final two years of a BioMed degree while working at Randox. I think the distance learning will be an easier transition than maybe I had previously thought, given that during the apprenticeship we only had one day in class and had a lot of online classes throughout the week. I’ve never wanted to go to university as a full time student and so I’m am glad that this is available to me to complete while continuing my career with Randox. I have read a lot about the Biomedical Degree and the modules and am quite eager to begin the course.
It’s also reassuring knowing that over the past 2 years I have significantly developed my ability to prioritise work, and to balance my job and studies. This will set me in good stead for my BioMed degree. Having a full time job and completing coursework and studying for exams is very hard and can be stressful – but the end result is worth it.
It can be challenging, but that’s what I love about science – there are so many new reactions, materials, procedures, regulations etc. to learn. There can be a big workload at times, but that’s always going to happen when you’re part of such a fast-paced company, and at Randox we’re very lucky that the support is always there if needs be. Luckily, I enjoy the rush and challenge of my job, and knowing your employer is trusting you to work on their world-class products is an amazing feeling.
Although the apprenticeship is challenging, if you have the right mind-set and motivation, you will gain so much from it. I highly recommend the Randox Higher Level Apprenticeship Foundation Degree in Applied Industrial Science.
We wish Grace and her fellow Randox apprentices the best of luck on whatever path they have chosen to progress to the next stage of their careers.
For more We Are Randox stories about our amazing colleagues, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow the hashtag #WeAreRandox.
For current vacancies in our team, visit careers.randox.com
Follow football? Then you won’t want to miss our exclusive interview with Glentoran player Corey McMullan.
Mathematics placement student Corey recently signed a two year contract with the prestigious Belfast football team and took some time out during the off season to talk to us about his football journey to date.
Read Corey’s story below.
“I’ve always been into sports. When I was younger I played football, tennis, badminton…I had a go at everything really but football has always been my main passion. Some of my best memories are of the Milk Cup which is held up in the north coast. I was captain of the Derry/Londonderry team and we played against some of the biggest teams in the world including CSKA Moscow and the Corinthians from Brazil. The following year I represented Northern Ireland in the Under 18s Centenary Shield. I think getting to play for your nation is a great honour and what it made it even more sweet was the fact that we beat the Republic in Sligo on St Patrick’s Day by scoring a last minute winner.
The first team that I played for was Limivady United and then when I was nineteen I moved to Ballyclare Comrades. I’m originally from Coleraine but I knew that the Ballyclare team had a good reputation and were good at giving young players a chance on the field. I decided to go and play for them – even though it took me an hour to get to training every week.
I played with them for one year and won ‘Player of the Month’ for the NIFL championship in January before I moved to Glentoran. We had just finished playing the Institute FC in a play-off game in a home and away over two legs and I scored the winner. It was after that game that the manager from Glentoran, Gary Haveron, got in touch. He had been watching the play-off and invited me down to The Oval where I signed my two year contract.
My family were buzzing when I told them I had been signed; they take a big interest in my football and my dad has never missed a match. I feel like I’m ready for it now. I’ve been playing since I was 16 and playing for Glentoran is a great opportunity for me.
We haven’t been told who the first fixture is against but I have already played my debut in Detroit. It was for the fiftieth anniversary of the Detroit Cougars, when Glentoran, representing NI, went to America to raise the profile of football there. The Glentoran squad exceeded everyone’s expectations as they were the only semi-professional football team that were brought over at that time and they did really well. Going as part of this team in 2017 was a great experience and it was the first time that I met all the boys on the squad. I started the game which drew in a crowd of 5 thousand people. It was such a big crowd which I didn’t expect. It was a bit surreal.
While we were in the US we went to Third Man Records, a famous records store in Detroit. Usually part of the initiation process when joining a new club involves an embarrassing sing along. So while we were in the record store I sang a rendition of ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams for all the lads. Personally I’m more of a shower singer but it was a bit of craic and a few other guys got up after me. We also got to meet Scott Benson, a Detroit city councilman, and we went on a tour of the city.
Although I’ve always been a keen football player I’m also lucky to be decent at maths and I have tutored for friends and family. You never know where football can take you so in the meantime I’m currently doing my placement year at Randox, working in the Pricing and Tenders department.
I found the opportunity through the university careers portal and at the time I didn’t know that maths could take you into these areas but I’m finding out that a good maths degree can open a lot of doors. I had heard of Randox before as my uncle had previously worked for them and was involved in the early developments of the Randox Science Park. I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to pursue at university, I had been interested in languages and science but maths was probably my best subject. It sounds simple but that’s honestly the way it was!
It’s been a great experience – I get along with my team very well and I am enjoying the work. I’ve had real hands-on experience during my placement year and I have found that the further I get into my degree the more options are becoming available. I was thinking of doing a masters in maths and also considering doing a PGCE in maths, but I haven’t quite made my mind up about that one yet.
It can be tough trying to balance work and football but I do manage it fit it all in. This past year I’ve been up from 6.30am to get to work and I usually stay on late because I have training after work in Belfast or Crumlin until 8.30pm. After training, I do my own training and practice my shooting to improve my game.
I support Man United as a team but the players whose careers I’d like to emulate would be Pogba and Steven Gerrard. They both play centre mid field and have a similar game to me. Gerrard is a good athlete – there are a lot of guys who can attack and defend but Gerrard is an all-rounded mid fielder. Currently it’s the off season but the pre-season is fast approaching and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and seeing where my football career will take me.”
For more We Are Randox stories make sure to follow #WeAreRandox on our social media channels.
If you are interested in joining our global team make sure that you check out the Randox careers website to see what new opportunities we have for you.
Over 50 students from across Northern Ireland celebrated International Women in Engineering Day on Friday 23rd June, by taking part in the first annual STEM Challenge event, hosted by global healthcare firm Randox Laboratories.
The students, from the Belfast Model School for Girls and Victoria College Belfast, joined female scientists, engineers, software developers and mathematicians from Randox, for a number of interactive activities organised to mark the special day, which is aimed at tackling the gender divide in engineering and other science, technology and maths-related disciplines.
Speaking at the event was Professor Máire O’Neill of Queen’s University Belfast – Professor in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and former recipient of the British Female Inventors and Innovators Network’s British Female Inventor of the Year award.
Professor O’Neill commented;
“I’m really delighted to be here today at the Randox STEM event and to have the opportunity to speak with girls who could potentially be the next generation of scientists, mathematicians, software developers, and significantly, on today, International Women in Engineering Day, the next generation of female engineers.
“Engineering is not a job for men. The representation of engineering as a “masculine” job is a socially constructed one, and at that, an inaccurate one. The skills required for engineering are found just as readily in the young girls I see here before me today as they are in their male classmates – patience, analysis, communication, empathy and problem solving.
“Enabling these young girls here today to meet with female engineers from Randox provides them with really positive role models who can share their experiences and hopefully encourage the students to really consider what it is to be an engineer.”
The students had the opportunity to ask the Randox representatives all the questions they wanted to know about working in STEM, and were treated to a tour of the facilities at the recently acquired Randox Science Park, which has become the new headquarters for the company.
Linda Magee, Head of Human Resources at Randox added;
“We want young girls to know that engineering is as much a viable career choice for them as it is for their male counterparts. At Randox our female to male ratio of engineers is significantly higher than the UK average – 15.8% as opposed to only 9% – but we still have a long way to go and we feel quite strongly that we can utilize Randox’s status within the Northern Irish business sector to really spearhead a paradigm shift in how we view engineering disciplines.”
Mark Gray, Biology Teacher at Victoria College Belfast said;
“We were delighted to hear that Randox were hosting a schools event in support of their STEM campaign, to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day. It’s important to give girls the chance to get involved and gain hands-on experience within these different disciplines and deliver the message from an early age that they have the same opportunities as boys in every part of life, especially their careers.
“By giving them more information and explaining the benefits of STEM we’re opening the doors for girls into areas that they might not have considered before. We need to make certain that young girls have the right support and experience to choose the right job in their future professions and a campaign like this offers us the perfect opportunity to do so.”
The Randox STEM challenge on International Women in Engineering Day, Friday 23rd June, was the culmination of a week-long initiative celebrating women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths, and in leadership roles across Northern Ireland.
For further information contact Randox PR on 028 9445 1016 or email RandoxPR@randox.com
Over 50 students from Northern Ireland are gearing up to take part in the first annual ‘STEM Challenge’ hosted at the Randox Science Park. The event, held on International Women in Engineering Day, will round off a week in which the global diagnostics company will unveil a number of initiatives to celebrate and promote women in STEM.
The ‘STEM Challenge’ is aimed at tackling the gender divide and skills gap in the science, technology, engineering and maths industry. On average in the UK women make up just 9% of the engineering workforce. Though Randox is bucking the trend with almost 16% of female engineers, it is still keen to challenge itself to encourage more women to view it as a viable career option.
The week kicks off with the launch of a returnership scheme which is being supported by the NI Chamber of Commerce. This was inspired by the experiences of staff members who returned to work after a career break, and meets a growing demand for a modern approach to recruitment. It will challenge society’s misconceptions surrounding career breaks and support both men and women in restarting their careers. As well as supporting individuals, a UK Government report found that increasing the number of women in work by just five per cent could create £750m extra in tax revenue.
Tackling the gender divide from the opposite end of the career ladder will be the focus at the end of the week. Pupils in Years 10 and 11 from the Belfast Model School for Girls and Victoria College will join R&D scientists and engineers at the new state-of-the-art Randox Science Park for a day of interactive sessions and talks to coincide with International Women in Engineering Day, 23rd June.
Welcoming the students and giving the first talk will be the renowned Máire O’Neill. The Professor of Information Security at Queen’s University Belfast and one-time British Female Inventor of the Year is an inspiring role model and passionate advocate for promoting STEM careers to girls.
The company is also hosting an evening to celebrating local role models in its flagship Randox Health clinic in Holywood. Guests will hear from Dorcas Crawford, senior partner at Edwards & Co., and Johann Muldoon, recently named Best Female Architect in Europe. Both women are recognised for their commitment to equality across industry and their own personal achievements in their fields.
Linda Magee, Global Head of HR for Randox said:
“This promises to be a tremendous week but more than that, it has the potential to have long-lasting benefits. We are pleased to be supported by so many inspiring women as well as the NI Chamber of Commerce.
“Randox is an important employer in the UK and also in Donegal. With our expansion plans comes a need to recruit the very best and brightest people. We hope that our schemes and initiatives will engage young people as well as those who are thinking about returning to work.”
For further information contact Randox PR on 028 9445 1016 or email RandoxPR@randox.com
A female scientist who has been working on the development of a test that diagnoses sepsis is one of the award-winning students in this year’s university placement scheme with Randox Laboratories.
The breakthrough sepsis test is being created by the Randox Molecular Diagnostics team, which Sarah-Louise Morrow from Belfast joined in September. Her innovative work saw her win third place in the Science category at the company’s annual Pinnacle Placement Awards.
Sarah-Louise, a Biochemistry student from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), said:
“Sepsis is known as the ‘silent killer’, and the faster you can diagnose it the better for the patient. It was so inspiring working with a team here at Randox who are making such valuable contributions to global health and I couldn’t be happier that something I’ve worked on could save lives in the future.”
Now in its 26th year, the Randox placement programme is recognised internationally for providing world-class opportunities for students and graduates – one of the core reasons that the global diagnostics company was established in 1982. Thirty years on, its founder Dr Peter FitzGerald remains as committed as ever to championing new talent and driving innovation.
Between them, this year’s Randox placement students have spearheaded a number of new designs and projects which are being implemented across the company.
Catherine McCooke, a QUB Electrical and Electronic Engineering student designed a new UV radiation exposure detection mechanism; Shannon McKee, a Business Studies student at Ulster University, conducted highly advantageous market research into emerging markets such as Jamaica and Puerto Rico; and Katie Lawther, a QUB Microbiology student introduced a new cellular tissue storage and tracking system.
The title of Randox Placement Student of the Year 2017 went to Robin Walsh, a QUB student from Lisburn who developed a new chemiluminescence signal reagent which is currently being validated and will be shortly released for production.
The 22 year old’s new product delivers significantly positive effects on the chemistry testing carried out by the Randox New Technology team. It increases test output by a factor of three, saving costs and time which ultimately enables the faster delivery of results for patients.
On receiving his award Robin, who studies Chemical Engineering, said;
“The Randox Placement Programme has far exceeded my expectations. My manager and everyone else in my team have been so supportive and encouraging. I worked on high-level projects I wouldn’t have dreamed possible for a placement student to be involved with. I have gained so much experience during my time as I have been able to translate what I’ve learnt in university into a true working environment. I’ve no doubt this experience will set me apart from the competition in the future.”
Congratulating Robin and his fellow placement students, Jolene Jamison, Randox Placement Co-Ordinator said;
“Taking part in a meaningful placement scheme is one of the most important things a student can do. The young people who are selected to join our programme are given the opportunity to carry out ground-breaking research and development, often working with pioneering technologies that are exported globally.
“The scheme is highly valued by the company so it’s important to take time at its end to celebrate our students. We’re very proud of them all – their contributions are going to make a real difference to global health.”
For the first time two of the Randox Placement award winners were selected from the APEX scheme that Randox runs with UU and QUB. This innovative scheme, which enables applicants to submit “video CVS” on social media to showcase their own personalities, includes paid, full-time summer work experience after a student’s first year of studies, a year-long placement, and a full-time job offer upon graduating, should they obtain a 2:1 or above.
Catherine McCooke who won the overall prize in Engineering said:
“After winning a place through the APEX scheme, being awarded the top prize in Engineering at Randox is unbelievable. It’s particularly important to me because I feel very passionately that women should see that there are no barriers to succeeding as an engineer. I’ve worked incredibly hard with some inspiring people, and have felt respected and valued every step of the way.”
The incoming 2017 summer work experience marks the highest intake of APEX students in Randox so far. Anyone interested in applying for the 2018-19 scheme should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The top students in the Randox Pinnacle Placement Awards 2017 were:
Robin Walsh, Queen’s University Chemical Engineering – New Technology Evaluation Chemistry Team at Randox
Katie Lawther, Queen’s University Microbiology – Monoclonal Development Team at Randox
Sarah-Louise Morrow, Queen’s University Biochemistry – Molecular Diagnostics Team at Randox
Catherine McCooke, Queen’s University Electrical and Electronic Engineering – R&D Engineering Team at Randox
Ruairi Laverty, Queen’s University Mechanical Engineering – R&D Engineering Team at Randox
Adam Fawcett, The Ulster University Electronic Engineering – Engineering Team at Randox
Shannon McKee, The Ulster University Business – Regional Sales Team at Randox
Martin Conway, The Ulster University Marketing – Marketing Team at Randox
Alastair McIlveen, Queen’s University Computer Science – IT Team at Randox
Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to stay up-to-date with the hashtag #WeAreRandox for more Randox staff stories.
For more information about the #WeAreRandox initiative please contact Randox PR by email: email@example.com or phone 028 9442 2413
Placement student Elena Lazarova who works in Randox Molecular Biology R&D Firfields site explains more about Robogals, a student-run global organisation that aims to inspire more girls to join STEM careers.
Founded in 2008 Robogals has chapters in several continents including Europe, Australia, Africa, and North America. The organization has reached over 50,000 girls aged from 5 to 18 years old and by 2020 aims to inspire over 100,000 girls by running free-of charge engineering and technology workshops in local communities.
“I was first introduced to Robogals when I saw one of their Manchester representatives at the Fresher’s fair at the University of Manchester. The LEGO robot that they had on the stall intrigued me with its simple design and ability to recognise distance thus saying ‘Hello!’ each time someone walked pass it.
As I had studied programming in middle school, I was keen to volunteer and find out more about these robots and the organisation. It turned out that the program behind the robot was mostly visual and not the coding I was used to therefore it was ideal as an introduction to programming. You’d think that a Biotechnology student would be out of place teaching robotics, but on the contrary it is incredibly fun and a good mental exercise. Also coming from a country where more than 30% of engineers are women (Bulgaria), I was surprised at the gender gap in the UK (less than 10% of engineers were women) and am keen to address the issue.
Since being taught how to use the robots I made sure to go to every session the Manchester chapter had, be it at local museums (each year we went to the Museum of Science and Industry’s Science Fair), libraries or schools. My enthusiasm and skill-set led to me being elected President of the Manchester chapter for a year and netted me over a 100 hours of volunteering.
Knowing I would have a placement year, and keen to continue being part of Robogals, I joined the regional Robogals EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) team as a Mentor. My current task is to assist and advice the chapters in the region on topics from volunteer involvement to sponsorship securement.
The last workshop I volunteered at was the Deer Shed Festival in Thirsk, Yorkshire during July 2016. It is a three day family-orientated festival which includes a Science Tent where Robogals Manchester has had a place for four years. It was my second time going to it and we taught over 150 girls and boys how to use our robots which include a LEGO guitar I had built the previous year.
Finishing the Lego guitar project is one of my favourite memories. Contrary to how long people think it took me to build it – it was only four hours. Since then it has become a great attraction and a good way of illustrating how one of the robot sensors works – the ultrasonic/distance sensor. I remember thinking at the festival how many people had brought their daughters to us to ask for advice about engineering pathways. There were also a good number of children who had attended our activity the previous year and wanted to partake again which was great to see as Robogals mission is to inspire, engage and empower young women into engineering and related fields.
Most of my activities so far as a Mentor have been online via email or voice chats. But last month I met various chapter executives in the EMEA region (mainly those in the UK) for our annual SINE (Seminars Inducting New Executives) conference. This year it was held in London and hosted by the London chapter at Imperial College London from 10th until 12th February. There I facilitated the activities and did presentations on skills to have and develop as part of Robogals.
These include learning how to program the robots using the LEGO Mindstorms NXT program and developing soft skills such as team work and presenting as well as teaching. During my time on the committee I was able to learn to liaise, organize workshops, event management, and leadership skills. Now as a Mentor I can share my experiences with other members of the organization whilst further developing what I have already learned in my time with Robogals (2.5 years so far).
Currently I am working on next year’s annual conference for the organisation. When I go back for my final year at the University of Manchester, I will definitely be going to workshops planned by the chapter there. Each time I’ve been to a workshop, I’ve always enjoyed how amazed the children are at the robots. Surprisingly, I’ve always thought I wouldn’t be good with children but I am enjoying being able to inspire them and to teach them more about the STEM world.
If you are interested in joining our global team make sure that you check out Randox careers website to see what new opportunities we have for you.
Since the opening of Randox Teoranta back in 2010, our team of scientists, engineers and software developers has grown significantly.
Career opportunities at our state-of-the-art research, development and manufacturing centre is utilising the talented skill set of Donegal people and newcomers alike, while actively attracing the Donegal Diaspora back to the area.
Donegal graduates who are working away from home have the opportunity to return, or for those from further afield, they have the opportunity to experience the distinct Donegal lifestyle for the first time.
Senior R&D Scientist at Randox Teoranta in Dungloe, Dr Sarah Gildea, returned to her native Donegal to work in Randox Teoranta, after having worked in the Irish Equine Centre in Kildare. She chatted to us about her PhD in Equine Influenza Virus and what she loves the most about being home.
Hi Sarah, can you tell us a little bit about your background and where you started your career?
I’m originally from Ardara which is in the south west of Donegal and about half an hour away from Dungloe where Randox Teoranta is based. Once I graduated from the University of Limerick with a Bsc in Equine Science, I got a job in the Virology Unit of The Irish Equine Centre, which is in Kildare. I stayed there for 13 years and during that time I got the opportunity to complete my PhD in Equine Influenza Virus.
Why did you choose Randox Teoranta?
After travelling to Kildare each week I finally got the opportunity to return home to work last June when I was lucky enough to join the Randox Teoranta team here in Dungloe. Travelling to Kildare was beginning to take its toll on me – I wasn’t home until late Friday evening and then I was away again on Sunday so it was always a short trip home. Don’t get me wrong now, it’s great to travel and see different parts of the world that you wouldn’t get the opportunity to see otherwise, but being a bit of a home bird I had wanted to come home for a while. I never thought that I would get the opportunity to work at home in the field of science, especially veterinary science. So as you can imagine I was delighted when I heard that Randox was opening a new R&D site in Dungloe and was expanding their expertise to include a veterinary division. I thought it was such a rare opportunity to be given the chance to work in my area of expertise so close to where I grew up.
What’s the difference in terms of the facilities between Randox Teoranta and the Irish Equine Centre?
Coming from the Irish Equine Centre where I was involved in diagnosing diseases for race horse trainers and veteran surgeons from all around Ireland to Randox Teoranta where I am developing tests to supply the likes of Irish Equine Centre and like-minded companies had its advantages. I already had a broad knowledge of vet diagnostics and diseases but now instead of diagnosing diseases I am creating the innovative diagnostic tests that the Irish Equine Centre would use. It meant that I already had a good knowledge on the flaws of some of the current tests and my experience gave me a good insight for what’s important when developing new innovative diagnostic tests.
How important is it that companies like Randox invest in places like Dungloe?
By investing in science and engineering at Randox Teoranta I have not only been able to bring back my knowledge and experience to my home county, but also teach and educate those in the community who are interested in pursuing a career in science but don’t necessarily want to travel far from home. Randox Teoranta not only allows me to give back to the community but also make huge savings on travel expenses as I no longer have to commute long distances to work each day. But really the most important thing for me is being close to all my family and friends.
For more information about our Randox Teoranta Open Morning on Friday 23rd December please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure to share on your social media platforms using the hashtag #TalentedTeoranta!
As a world-leader in diagnostics, dedicated to improving the health of populations across the globe, we know the importance of inspiring and nurturing the next generation of scientists who will carry on our hard work and strive to realise our vision.
Our scientists at Randox are all equally passionate, knowledgeable and experienced, and as such often make visits to schools, universities and colleges to spend time with students interested in asking our team about what it’s like to work in a global healthcare company.
This month, Marta Crudden, an R&D Scientist in our Serum Production Team, paid a visit to St. Bride’s Primary School in Belfast, to spend the day with the pupils there and showcase what a career in science has to offer.
“When I was offered the opportunity to speak at St. Bride’s Primary School I jumped at the chance, because I am passionate about encouraging school children to pursue a career in STEM. I have a Biomedical Degree from Queen’s University and also spent 5 years there conducting cancer research, so science has played a big part in my life.
“I was delighted to be able to share my experiences with the children, who were very interested in what I had to say. It was very enjoyable listening to and answering their imaginative questions, and I particularly enjoyed the presentation I gave to the pupils on DNA, because they were all incredibly curious and eager to learn more.
“They were fascinated to hear that all cells, not just humans, have DNA, and therefore were throughly attentive when we moved on to our interactive session on DNA. During this session I showed them how to extract DNA from strawberries and what it really looks like in a real organism.
“This prompted a lot of interesting questions about cloning animals, including dinosaurs! There is nothing quite like the imagination and curiosity of children!
“A few days after my day at St Bride’s I received a number of messages from some of the parents saying thank you for my talk, and for inspiring their kids to become interested in science.
“I like to think that some of those children will go on to choose STEM subjects when they go to highschool, and could even end up working here at Randox! I’m delighted to have been able to share the work we do with the next generation of scientists.”
For more information on how Randox promotes STEM careers within schools and universities please contact email@example.com
We wouldn’t be the experts in Equine Health we are without our team of highly knowledgeable and experienced veterinary scientists.
Dr. Sarah Gildea, Senior R&D Scientist at Randox Teoranta in Dungloe, Co. Donegal, Ireland, has a BSc Equine Health, a PhD in Equine Influenza Virus, and spent many years working in the Virology Unit of The Irish Equine Centre prior to joining our team.
‘Randox Diagnostics: Leading the Field in Equine Health’
by Dr. Sarah Gildea BSc PhD, Senior R&D Scientist at Randox
“With over 30 years’ experience, Randox is a leading specialist in the development of veterinary diagnostic solutions. Our extensive product portfolio includes diagnostic reagents, quality controls, external quality assessment (RIQAS) and the Rx series of clinical chemistry analysers which are specifically designed to monitor the general health and well-being of a diverse range of animal species.
“Long established in the equine market, our clinical chemistry analysers provide the largest and most comprehensive test menu available and are used extensively to monitor the health and nutritional status of horses all around the world. In addition, our clinical chemistry tests can also be used for therapeutic drug monitoring, assessing reproductive fitness and as an indirect method in the diagnosis of certain equine diseases/conditions.
“Equine infectious anaemia (EIA) otherwise known as “swamp fever” is a viral disease affecting horses which can cause intermittent fever, anaemia, emaciation and eventual death. Although the disease is not always fatal, infected horses can become disease carriers thus posing a significant risk to other equines. Hence, rapid diagnosis is of fundamental importance. In a study carried out in Romania where the virus is endemic, a novel link between oxidative stress (measuring Total Antioxidant Status, Superoxide Dismutase and Glutathione Peroxidase) and EIA viral infection was established (Bolfă PF et al., 2012). The assessment of oxidative-antioxidative status in blood has also been investigated for a variety of other equine diseases and a correlation between oxidant-antioxidant imbalance and exercised induced pulmonary haemorrhage (Mills and Higgins, 1997), equine motor neuron disease (Delguste et al., 2007), recurrent airway obstruction (Deaton et al., 2006), joint disease (Dimock et al., 2000), endometritis and colic (Krumrych et al., 2013) has been identified. Such findings highlight the broader use of clinical chemistry tests in studying the pathogenesis and pathomechanisms of equine diseases.
“The increased participation of equine athletes in different sports and disciplines has resulted in a rise in the incidence of joint problems, with osteoarthritis now a common finding among performance horses. Similar to all athletes, the equine appendicular skeleton is under extreme pressure when participating in any intense physical training or equestrian events. Although some horses may remain clinically unremarkable, such physical exertion can result in various inflammatory disorders with subsequent increased risk of injury. Analysis of total protein in joint synovial fluid using the Randox Rx series of clinical chemistry analysers plays an important role in the study of equine orthopaedics worldwide and in the identification of appropriate therapeutic tools to enhance healing. The measurement of other well established biomarkers e.g. Total Antioxidant Status, Superoxide Dismutase, Serum Amyloid A and Creatine Kinase in monitoring response to exercise, transport, trauma and stress have all been previously reported using Randox technology and the results well documented in the scientific literature.
“In addition, using our clinical chemistry analysers, the measurement of seminal plasma antioxidant activity has been demonstrated as a useful indicator of semen quality and subsequent reproductive capability in performance stallions. In a study carried out by Härtlová et al., (2013) stallions experiencing induced sport workload stress were found to have higher levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) compared to those without workload stress. A correlation between an increased level of these intracellular enzymes in seminal plasma and defects in the spermatozoa membrane has previously been established (Katila, 2001).
“Randox is also actively involved in the development of tests for the detection of performance enhancing substances in horses. Such testing protects the safety and welfare of these animals and ensures that competitions are won primarily on merit. This testing is performed not only using our innovative Biochip Array Technology but also our Rx series of clinically chemistry analysers. During prolonged strenuous exercise, racehorses can experience acidemia. In an effort to enhance racing performance “bicarbonate loading” by trainers was first identified in the early 1990s and since then some racing authorities have identified a limit of total carbon dioxide (TC02) concentration which is permissible in horses prior to competition. A comparative study carried out in Australia which examined the capability of four clinical chemistry analysers (Beckman Synchron EL-ISE®, Beckman Synchron CX®5, Beckman UniCel DxC®600, Randox DaytonaTM) to measure TC02 in equine plasma reported that the Randox Daytona offered a high degree of accuracy and precision when compared to the gold standard. Of important logistical consideration however, this study identified the Randox Daytona as the only instrument sufficiently “portable” to allow TC02 testing to be carried out not only in a laboratory but also “onsite” at a racetrack in a laboratory vehicle (Jarrett et al., 2010).
“So as you can see – for all your equine needs from general health screening, monitoring response to exercise or injury, identifying suitable therapeutics and their appropriate threshold, studying the pathogenesis and pathomechanisms of certain equine diseases and assessing reproductive fitness – the Randox Rx series offers it all.”
For more information about our work in the area of Equine Health, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Bolfă, PF., et al. (2012) Oxidant-antioxidant imbalance in horses infected with equine infectious anaemia virus . Vet J 2012, 192: 449-454
Deaton, CM., et al (2006) Comparison of the antioxidant status in tracheal and bronchoalveolar epithelial lining fluids in recurrent airway obstruction. Equine Vet J 2006, 38: 417-422
Delguste, C et al., (2007) Change in blood antioxidant status of horses moved from a stable following diagnosis of equine motor neuron disease . Can Vet J 2007, 48: 1165-1167
Dimock, AN., et al (2000) Evidence supporting an increased presence of reactive oxygen species in the diseased equine joint. Equine Vet J 2000, 32: 439-443
Härtlová, H., et al. (2013) Semen quality, lipid peroxidation, and seminal plasma antioxidant status in horses with different intensities of physical exercise. Acta Vet Brno 2013, 82: 031–035
Jarrett, M (2010): Alternative instrumentation for the analysis of total carbon dioxide (TC02) in equine plasma. Anal Bioanal Chem 2010, 397: 717-722
Katila, T (2001): In vitro evaluation of frozen-thawed stallion semen: A review. Acta Vet Scand 2001, 42: 199-217
Krumrych, W., et al. (2013) Oxidant/antioxidant status assessment of blood in selected equine diseases. Bull Vet Inst Pulawy 2013, 57: 225-230
Mills PC and Higgins AJ (1997) Oxidant injury, nitric oxide and pulmonary vascular function: implications for the exercising horse. Vet J 1997, 153: 125-148