Xinyi Du, 2018 Crick-CRUK doctoral clinical fellow, Nicholas Luscombe’s lab
I studied pre-clinical and clinical medicine at the University of Cambridge and have always had a broad-reaching interest in science, as evidenced by my choice to intercalate in History and Philosophy of Science.
I completed summer studentships at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and Babraham Institute whilst at university, and subsequently went on to complete Foundation and Core Medical Training in London, where I had experiences in a variety of specialties including renal medicine, oncology and haematology.
After obtaining a training post based at St John’s Institute of Dermatology (Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust), my clinical experiences in dermatology and centres incorporating translational research into clinical practise inspired me to undertake research of my own to provide an additional dimension within my clinical practise, for patient benefit.
I have gone from being a clinician with some experience of ‘wet’ labs to working in a computational or ‘dry’ lab. Nick’s group has a stimulating and mixed skill background consisting of clinicians (respiratory, neurology and dermatology), biologists and individuals with bioinformatics and mathematical backgrounds who are using computational methods to study DNA and RNA.
I also spend time at the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine as I am jointly supervised by Professor Fiona Watt and Dr Magnus Lynch at King’s College London. Going from a full-time clinical role to a project combining skin biology and single-cell transcriptomics has been a fun and rewarding challenge. Nick has been very empathetic and patient in supporting me, particularly in regards to learning to code.
The Crick PhD programme makes you feel very supported as a student. As someone who previously had a very full timetable, having a structured programme and a few deadlines is actually quite reassuring. There is a really collaborative and collegial environment amongst the students, and the Crick as a whole. I feel very lucky to be working in such an amazing space with so many inspirational individuals.
My goal is to be a clinician scientist, and single-cell transcriptomics is a really exciting and fast-moving field that I hope to lead future translational research in. Future clinical practice is also likely to be much more data-integrated and genomics-driven, and I hope that my understanding of genomics and the data analysis skills that I develop during my PhD will also be transferable within the healthcare setting.