Future Genetics: A Biomedical Sciences Student's Experience on Placement

Ever wondered what placements are like on our Life Sciences courses? Well we’ve heard from Biomedical Sciences student, Misbah Hussein, who tells us about her experience on a four week placement at Future Genetics.

"In July 2020 I was given the opportunity to volunteer with a company called Future Genetics. They are a non-profit research company and focus on the discovery and development of disease bio-markers in areas that are overlooked. The sole purpose of Future Genetics is to help society live healthier lives by addressing health inequalities that exist in the UK. In accordance with the pandemic the programme had scoped out a study to look at COVID-19. This was further developed with the release of the data showing disproportionately high COVID-19 death rates in Black and Asian populations. The proposed study is called EMPOWER – BAME vs COVID.

In order to get a position onto the programme we had to provide a CV and then were moved onto the interview process. The interview was very laid-back and informal, making it a lot easier and comfortable to engage with the interviewer. There were no difficult questions as it was a matter of our understanding of the programme and what we could bring to it.

Before conducting the placement we had to undertake Good Clinical Practice (GCP) training and were awarded certificates. This helped to ensure we maintain a professional manner and it prepared us on how to deal with different situations during the placement. 

The company offer scientific lab based and clinical research opportunities. Due to the current climate we were unable to deliver our work at GP surgeries, alternatively pharmacies allowed the company to recruit participants onto the research programme.

I carried out my placement 4 days a week for 4 weeks. As it was conducted at a pharmacy, it was more challenging to catch the patient’s attention as understandably their sole focus was to just receive their medication. The organisers of the study were very helpful and gave us tips on how to approach a patient. From this I gathered that keeping the speech short and simple was the best way to communicate with them.

We had to ensure the patients understood what the research was about and were comfortable with providing personal details. However when asking to provide a buccal sample many patients were reluctant and became sceptical. This was expected as not many people would be comfortable with that.The buccal sample is needed to better understand our DNA as research estimates that our DNA and the environment equally influence the risk of infection.

There was a lot of friendly banter between the patients and us, some people were very outgoing and enjoyed discussing the research in depth. Volunteering for the programme was something very new and different for me and it allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. It endorsed me to demonstrate a confidence I never knew I had. The organisers of the programme, Mohammed and Kash were very professional and guided us step by step throughout the placement. They are conducting an excellent research study that I am proud to have been a part of."

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