Researchers in a collaboration space at the Crick.

What’s it like to be a clinician at the Crick?

There are a number of clinicians working to advance understanding of health and disease here at the Crick. To highlight their work and tell us more about being a clinician at the Crick, Rickie Patani, Anna Wilkins and Rupert Beale share their experiences.

Rickie Patani, clinical group leader 

Rickie Patani

What are you working on at the Crick?

Applications are open 

  • We're looking for talented and ambitious clinician scientists working in all areas of biomedical research to join our faculty.

  • If you’re interested in becoming a clinician scientist at the Crick, applications for an early career clinical group leader position are open until 28 November 2019

Find out more about the role and application process

We study motor neuron disease (ALS) and dementia. In ALS, patients lose the ability to move, eat, speak and ultimately breathe. ALS remains untreatable because we don’t understand the disease mechanisms. In order to address this, we use human stem cells generated from real patients. We ‘transform’ these stem cells into human nerve cells and their support cells, glia. 

Our goal is to identify precisely what goes wrong at a molecular level in ALS, when this happens and in which type of cell. The more we understand about neurological diseases using this approach, the more we can accurately target underlying disease mechanisms and reach better outcomes for patients.

As a clinician, what’s it like working here?

It’s a vibrant, dynamic and evolving environment with interdisciplinarity and creative collaboration at its core. These attributes were hugely appealing to me when I applied and have been a key determinant of our recent progress. Co-location with talented basic scientists and science technology platforms really helps drives scientific discovery. The environment at the Crick has led to some fascinating collaborations for us and is allowing us to explore new areas. 

Is there any advice you’d give to a clinician considering a move to a research institute?

I would strongly advise them to go for it! I feel very privileged to have my whole research group based here in an environment that allows everyone to realise their full potential. There’s an emphasis on training the next generation of thinkers and leaders as well as an in-house translation team who have a unique vision for translational science.

For me, combining the unparalleled basic science here, with the world-class translational neuroscience at UCL – where I’m also appointed – seemed like an opportunity that I could not miss.

Anna Wilkins, postdoctoral clinical fellow 

Anna Wilkins

What are you working on at the Crick?

I’m a radiotherapist by background and am working on how tumour cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts react in response to treatment with radiotherapy. This fits into the broader work of the team I’ve joined here, as we’re all looking to understand how cancer spreads through the body and how the tumour microenvironment affects this process.

The opportunity to delve deeper into the mechanisms of tumour resistance to radiotherapy is something that’s always interested me as it could lead to more effective treatments – especially in an area like radiotherapy where biological progress has been slow. 

I’ve gained a lot of new skills in only a few months, including in cell culture, bioinformatics, microscopy and image analysis.
Anna Wilkins

As a clinician, what’s it like working here?

The Crick has a great reputation, so when I came across the work of the Sahai lab and realised that it really complimented my existing research on radiotherapy and prostate cancer, I was immediately keen to apply. The wide range in expertise of colleagues at the Crick is extremely helpful, as is how generous people are with their time to train you in advanced techniques. I’ve gained a lot of new skills in only a few months, including in cell culture, bioinformatics, microscopy and image analysis. There’s also a very collaborative atmosphere – for example, the Cancer Interest Group has helped me to get to know who is working in similar areas to me.

Is there any advice you’d give to a clinician considering a move to a research institute?

Don’t underestimate the benefits that working in a multi-disciplinary environment like the Crick can bring. This works both ways – I’m able to learn about new experimental methods and software, which wouldn’t have been possible elsewhere, while, as the only clinical radiotherapist in our group, I’m able to offer a different perspective on research. There is also a lot of support for translational projects at the Crick which as clinicians we can really benefit from. I’ve been able to set up and get funding for an exciting translational project that links my PhD work in prostate cancer with the Sahai group expertise in the extracellular matrix.  

Rupert Beale, clinical group leader 

Rupert Beale
If you want to tackle a difficult biological question and can think of interesting and clever ways to do that, then the Crick is a great place to work.
Rupert Beale

What are you working on at the Crick?

I’m interested in understanding fundamental mechanisms in cell biology and how these relate to disease. My group is focusing on the influenza virus, interrogating how this virus affects a cell’s ability to regulate internal pH. We’ve found a mechanism that partially resembles autophagy and we are looking further into how this works, its impact on the cell and exploring how it benefits the virus. 

My group work closely with a number of the science technology platforms, from light and electron microscopy to flow cytometry to proteomics, to name a few, and being able to work with experts in these fields has opened up many more ways for us to look at how influenza affects cells.

As a clinician, what’s it like working here?

It’s recognised here that there can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to biomedical research – different biological and pathological questions require their own approach. This is important as it gives clinical group leaders room to build a research group that will most effectively explore their areas of interest. 

Is there any advice you’d give to a clinician considering a move to a research institute?

If you want to tackle a difficult biological question and can think of interesting and clever ways to do that, then the Crick is a great place to work. I came here after a four year Clinician Scientist position at Cambridge. What attracted me to the Crick was a combination of the world-class research happening here in areas like autophagy, immunity and influenza biology, but also access to the technology platforms. I want to be able to interrogate pathological mechanisms without being limited to only using the tools and techniques I already know. That’s want the Crick provides - there’s such a broad range of expertise under the one roof. 

Applications are open 

If you’re interested in becoming a clinician scientist at the Crick, applications for an early career clinical group leader position are open until 28 November 2019.

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