Biobanking: an ultra-cool
alternative to a career in research
Dr Amy Peasland, Newcastle Biomedicine Central Biobank Manager
• Introduction - Biobanking
• Newcastle Biomedicine Biobank
• Storage services
• Tissue Processing Laboratory
• My role:
Newcastle Biomedicine Central Biobank Manager
• How I got there (Newcastle) from here (Leicester)
• Any point of a sandwich year?
• Why do an MSc and PhD?
• Post-doctoral academia; to stay or go?
• My alternative career
Introduction - Biobanking
• Working with human tissues; old idea
• Many areas of medical research dependent on
access to human tissues
• Biobank = collection of human tissues, cells and
blood that can be used for medical research and
• “Biobanking” - quoted in the cover story of the
March 23, 2009, issue of TIME magazine, a
feature called "10 Ideas Changing the World Right
(Biobanks = #8)
Newcastle Biomedicine Biobank
• Central Biobank in Newcastle Medical School
• Set up as response to HTA requirement to
keep relevant material in appropriate conditions
• Specialist Services
– Storage of HTA relevant
material and derivatives
– Bar coded sample tracking
– Quality Management System
– Tissue processing
– Pathological image acquisition and analysis
Biobank Manager role:
Run storage and processing facilities
PD for University HTA research license
School Safety Officer
Biological Safety Supervisor
• 1 x Histopathology Scientist
• 3 x Biomedical Technicians
• 1 x Clerical Assistant
Other aspects of role:
• Financial/budget management; allocating
• Promotion & marketing: internal, external &
• Managing unit health and safety
• Staff line-management
• Maintaining policies and systems
• Advising PIs/academic staff on all aspects of their
Biobank Manager – Person Requirements
• Higher degree in a relevant field
• Proven experience of managing a laboratory and leading a
specialist team in a laboratory/research environment
• Experience of monitoring expenditure and maintaining budgets,
and of health and safety regulations and procedures within a
higher education setting
• Proven problem solving skills
• Excellent interpersonal and communication abilities
• High level of IT proficiency
• Knowledge of the Human Tissue Act (2004)
• Understanding of ethical issues surrounding the use of human
tissues in research
How I got there (Newcastle) from here (Leicester)
• South Shields, North East England
• Good GCSE’s (don’t mention A-levels!)
• BSc Biological Sciences (Microbiology)(European Union) –
Sandwich year (1999) – Universidade do Algarve
• MSc Molecular Pathology and Toxicology – Leicester 2001
• PhD Molecular Biology – Newcastle 2005
“Alternative splicing of the mismatch repair gene hMLH1
in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia”
Any point of a sandwich year?
September 1998 – June 1999, University of the Algarve, Faro, Portugal
Research project investigating adaptive responses in Listeria monocytogenes
Scientific experience :
– microbiological techniques
– experimental design
– time management
Certificate of Basic Portuguese at the University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
– integrate into a foreign country
– immerse myself in the Portuguese language
– experience a different culture
– Result = personal flexibility and resilience!
Worth doing? Definitely!
Why did I do an MSc and PhD?
• Why an MSc?
– Wanted to continue in science
– Chose an MSc course to qualify me for a future in
– (prove I can do better than the 2:2 )
• Why a PhD?
– Love the science!
• Thinking up innovative approaches to
• Discovering new things
• Translational research; improve future
outcomes for cancer sufferers
– Needs to be the right PhD
– Do it for the journey, not just the destination…
Post-doctoral academia; to stay or go?
Junior Research Assistant
– Mechanisms of vincristine resistance in childhood ALL
– Paediatric brain tumours; gene expression in areas of
histopathological heterogeneity in nodular
– Leukaemia research; investigating small molecule
inhibitors or FGFr3 in multiple myeloma
– Drug development; investigating the potentiating
effects of small molecule ATR inhibitors on the
cytotoxicity of DNA-damaging chemotherapeutic
An alternative career?
• 5 years post-PhD = decision time!
• Stay in academia?
– Cons now outweighed the pros…
– Fierce competition for funding…
– Publication record not great…
– Different priorities now…
• Alternative career…
– Still loved science
– Felt a waste not to use the practical experience…
Working at the Biobank, Newcastle Uni
• Good choice to leave research?
– 4 years in; no regrets so far…
– Using scientific expertise and experience
– Still involved in research projects
– Permanent contract; flexible working
– Different challenges; always interesting!
Any Questions about Biobanking?
Telephone: 0191 2824285