Katie – Expanding my skills to the world of ion channels

Written by Dr. Katie Puddefoot

Volunteering sparked my interest in neuroscience

My interest in Neuroscience started when I was sixteen and I became a volunteer for my local Parkinson’s UK branch. My volunteering with the charity gave me exposure to the world of neuroscience research and motivated me to pursue my scientific studies to degree level. I graduated with a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Bath in 2017. I was attracted to the degree programme for the breadth of knowledge covered and the ability to select modules from the Schools of Biological Sciences, Pharmacy and Pharmacology, and Chemistry. I chose to focus on modules related to neuroscience, allowing me to study the basics of neuronal function and how this can relate to neurological disorders. As part of my degree, I undertook a placement year at Oxford Immunotec, working in their diagnostics laboratory carrying out routine blood tests for TB. This taught me valuable lab skills and how to work within a heavily regulated industry.

Blog Photo Katie 002
Katie Puddefoot – Scientist, Metrion Biosciences

Industry experience before returning to academia

Following my time at the University of Bath, I moved back to Oxford, where I worked as a Laboratory Assistant at ProImmune Ltd., in their Cellular Analysis Services department. Here, I further expanded my bench skills, learning a variety of molecular biology and cell culture techniques. My experience within industry gave me an insight into the world of biotechnology and made me want to return to academia to gain a PhD, so that I could further climb the industrial ladder.

Trying my hand at manual patch clamp

In 2018, I started my PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Leicester and was finally introduced to the world of electrophysiology. I was fortunate enough to be funded by the Midlands Integrative Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership, giving me the opportunity to carry out a three-month rotation in the lab of Dr Mark Wall at the University of Warwick. Here, I learnt manual patch clamp techniques in rat brain slices, studying the effects of adenosine on thalamocortical neurons. Taking these newly learnt skills, I returned to the University of Leicester to the lab of Dr Jonathan McDearmid to complete my PhD project. My PhD focused on how pharmacological inhibitors of the proteasome affect the synaptic and intrinsic properties of larval zebrafish motoneurons and neuromuscular junction function and formation. My PhD showed me that of all the techniques I had learnt to date, electrophysiology is the one I felt I had the most affinity for.

My new role at Metrion

I knew that following my PhD I wanted to pursue a career within industry where I could continue to expand on my electrophysiology skills. Hence, I attended the Cambridge Ion Channel Forum in Spring 2022, hosted by Metrion Biosciences and AstraZeneca. I was impressed with the work presented at the forum, so I applied for a Scientist role at Metrion Biosciences. I am excited for the opportunity to expand my electrophysiology skills to the world of ion channel drug discovery and to be working back in industry once again.