Sana from Pakistan dreams of developing novel cancer drugs in future. Read on to find out how her course is providing her with the practical hands-on experience she needs to achieve her career goals, and how much fun she is having along the way.
Hi Sana! Can you tell us about your course?
I’m studying for my master’s in Biomedical science which comprises the study of disease progression and its treatment. The modules immunology, haematology, genomics, pathologies of human diseases and drug design and delivery gave me insights into using computational biology, examination of blood cells and microorganisms to designing novel diagnostic tools. I have also gained extensive training in applied clinical laboratory skills such as cell culture techniques.
Why did you choose to study life sciences at Salford?
I chose this course because of the diversity of the modules available at Salford, and because I wanted extensive laboratory training which was available at Bodmer Laboratories. The training includes cell culture facility, MALTI-TOF, LC and GC mass spectrometry, scanning electron microscopy and FACS and more.
“I also wanted to study here because the courses are accredited by professional bodies and all of the staff were very welcoming and friendly as soon as I started speaking to them.”
Another reason for choosing the University of Salford was because I got a scholarship of £3,500 in my tuition fee and like many other international students, I was looking for an affordable choice. The course is cheaper than other universities in Manchester and the School of Science, Engineering and Environment is renowned for its academics.
What has been your favourite thing about your studies so far?
My course has provided me with skill-based knowledge which I can use in my future career. The assessments are projects, presentations, and a dissertation, which I prefer more than having written exams. My Postgraduate Scholarship Skills and Professional Practice modules taught me how to write a blog, critically analyse and design a research project.
Now that I am in my third trimester, I am given my own independent research area in the laboratory where my supervisor is always ready to help.
What are the teaching staff like on your course?
The teachers are very helpful, and they respond to all my questions.
In my first semester, most of the classes were online due to restrictions from the pandemic, but still, lectures were interactive, and everyone was encouraged to participate in the class. In the second trimester, lectures were face-to-face on campus and the best thing was the group discussions where I got to meet and make new friends from different countries. This experience helped me to gain a lot of confidence.
What industry experience have you gained from your course?
The Bodmer Laboratories are facilitated with all the equipment I need to become a Biomedical Scientist. I am currently working on cancer cells using cell culture technology and I will be learning other techniques like PCR and FACS which I can use in my career.
Can you tell us more about the projects you are working on?
I am working with Dr. Athar Aziz in his Lab on the project “Induced intracellular calcium changes to aid current chemotherapeutic possibilities”. In this project, we will be using lymphoid cells (MOLT4, C1, C7) and will treat them with dexamethasone and with Calcium channel inhibitors. We will analyse intracellular calcium concentration and the growth potential of these cells. We will be using cell culture techniques with FACS and RT PCR analysis of the cells.
I am also working as Lab Demonstrator which taught me how to interact with students as I plan to be in academia in the future.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Salford/Manchester?
Manchester was always my first choice when I was looking for universities as I knew people from here and I heard it was a friendly and welcoming city, which I can say for sure now! The city is lively with so many things happening. It is very easy to travel around the city on buses and trams as a student when you don’t have a car.
The campus is near the city centre, and you can easily go there on your day after classes to have fun and go shopping!
“I love that the accommodation, food and other living expenses are lower compared to other cities like London. There is a vibrant culture here, with mixed people which gives you knowledge of many languages.”
If you are a foodie, believe me, Manchester is the best place for you! You can get all kinds of foods from English to Pakistani (Halal), Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, African, etc, so you will not have any problem finding food even if you don’t know how to cook!
What are your career goals and how will your time at Salford prepare you for this?
In the future, I aspire to become a researcher as a Biomedical Scientist and work in academia. I would like to work on the development of novel cancer drugs and play my role in the field of science. I want to work in histopathology (also known as cellular pathology) – microscopic examination of diseased tissue samples, to establish the cause of the disease. My course work and my practical research work have given me knowledge that I can use in my field in the future and hopefully fulfil my dream.
I am also a School Representative, a Library Champion, and an academic executive. I am doing these roles because I want to help other international students, gain confidence and also gain professional experience.
Thank you so much for talking to us Sana. We hope you enjoy the rest of your studies and achieve your career goals.