A workstation in the cell services facility at the Crick.

Librarians of lifeforms

Rather than experiment on a living patient, scientists studying the human body often work with cells that are grown artificially in flasks.

Intro

tool spotlight

The Cell Services team have the biomedical equivalent of green fingers, nurturing billions of cells to keep each one uncontaminated and thriving.

They’ve filed away thousands of samples of cell types, storing them in vats of super-cold liquid nitrogen so they can be grown again one day. 

At any one time, the Cell Services team hold 6,000 cell lines in the Crick’s deep freeze tanks, ready for scientists to use.

A tray of frozen cryovials used by the cell services team at the Crick.

Cell Services technicians use liquid nitrogen to put samples of cells into a state of hibernation. This vessel slowly chills cells in resilient tubes called cryovials, so that they survive the process and can be brought back to life when they’re needed.

meet

Meet Thomas

Thomas Martinez was an experienced research technician when he joined the team but depended on his colleagues to teach him Cell Services protocols.

Thomas Martinez

Mini CV

  • 2010

    A Level equivalent including Physics, Biochemistry, Biology, Mathematics, and Laboratory Technology, France

  • 2011 - 2013

    Technical university degree in Biotechnologies, Montpellier, France

  • 2012 - 2013

    Internship, MIVEGEC – an infectious disease research institute, Montpellier, France

  • 2012 - 2013

    Technician Supervisor in animal anatomy and well-being, Institute of Molecular Genetics of Montpellier, CNRS, Montpellier, France

  • 2015 - 2016

    Research Technician, Structural and Molecular Biology Department, National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, UK, and at UCL Institute of Structural Molecular Biology, London, UK

  • 2016 - Present

    Laboratory Research Scientist, Cell Services, Francis Crick Institute, London, UK 

  • Quote Thomas

    Good technique is not enough. We need to really understand the processes of growing and studying cells. Attention to detail and thoroughness are crucial skills.

    meet

    Meet Fatemeh

    Working as a Laboratory Research Apprentice, Fatemeh’s role includes cell culturing and learning the correct laboratory equipment. Cell Services is also in charge of the cryogenic store, retrieving cells from liquid nitrogen for the Crick’s researchers. Before joining Cell Services Fatemeh worked alongside Flow Cytometry, learning how cells are used in various experiments from different labs.

    Fatemeh Abolverdi

    Mini CV

  • 2004 - 2008

    Completed GCSEs including Double Science, Maths, Health and Social Care, London, UK

  • 2008 - 2011

    Completed A levels including Biology, Chemistry, Physics and BTEC Level 2/National Diploma in Applied Science at Hammersmith College, London, UK

  • 2017 - 2019

    Level 3 Apprenticeship including Cell Services rotation at the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK

  • 2018 - Present

    Laboratory Research Apprentice, Cell Services, Francis Crick Institute, London, UK

  • Quote Fatemeh

    I enjoy everything in Cell Services as we have to multitask and work under pressure to provide accurate data and results. Because the quality of cells that Cell Services provides to scientists can have far reaching effects and impacts on experiments, it is an essential foundation of the Crick’s research.

    Fatemeh Abolverdi

    Laboratory Research Officer, Cell Services

    Have you got what it takes?

    Have you got what it takes?

    Here are the top three skills needed to work in Cell Services:

    • Attention to detail
    • Decision making
    • Precision

      For more information on the different skills required for technical roles in science and beyond, have a look at the Technicians Make it Happen prospectus:

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