What have I done in the Bioscience labs so far…?

As you may or may not know, I am in my second year of BSc Biomedical Science at the University of Surrey. This means I’ve spent plenty of time in the laboratory (in the Innovation for Health building) doing various things.

The great thing about the University of Surrey’s Bioscience courses is that they are all accredited. For most of the Biosciences and Medicine courses (such as Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Microbiology, etc.), they are accredited by the Royal Society of Biology, which shows that the course includes a range of valuable transferable skills that are relevant for employability. Some of the courses, however, are accredited by different institutions or associations. For example, the Nutrition and Dietetics course is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as well as accredited by the British Dietetic Association (BDA), which provides eligibility to apply for registration as a dietitian under the HCPC.

For the Biomedical Science course, in particular, it is accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science. Therefore, this degree course covers specific subjects at the required level to meet the HCPC standards of proficiency of biomedical scientists. This takes you one step closer to registering as a biomedical scientist under the HCPC, as the title of ‘Biomedical Scientist’ is legally protected after all.

Personally, I love my time in the laboratory. Some of you may agree with me; some may probably look at me in confusion. Everyone has their own opinion on what they would like to do after the course. I would really like to work as a medical technologist or a clinical laboratory scientist in a hospital, which is my current plan after graduation. I’m not too particularly fond of the research and development aspect, though I do find some topics interesting (particularly those pertaining to the pharmacology of drugs targeting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s). So, I was definitely happy when I got to study much more medically-relevant modules this semester, such as pathology, pharmacology, and clinical biochemistry.

For the Analytical and Clinical Biochemistry module this semester, our first practical focused on urinalysis as a test for a wide range of disorders. It’s really quite amazing to think about how your urine holds so much information on what your body is having a problem with. Disgusting, but it is true. Be thankful I’m not talking about faecal samples right now. Anyway, our practical was geared towards conducting a dipstick test on urine samples of different patients. Just for your information, for safety and health purposes, the samples are not real. They’re ‘fake’ urine samples made specifically for the test. So, once the results were obtained, we have to put together and write about each sample and why they have abnormal results while keeping in mind each patient’s symptoms. It’s probably a small step towards learning about clinical laboratory science, but it brought me a step closer towards my goal as a clinical laboratory scientist. Although, the report is due next week and I’ll definitely be hunkered down for the whole weekend finishing it.

What other experiments have I done? Good question, imaginary reader. An experiment that comes to mind would be the practical for the Molecular Biology and Genetics: From Genes to Biological Function module I had last semester. I remembered that one particularly because it was probably the longest and most complicated report I have done so far for any practical. It was on the expression of β-globin genes in differentiated and undifferentiated mice progenitor cells. A bunch of words, but yes, that is as succinct as I can get about the practical. The practical was pretty drawn out too; we had three separate laboratory sessions which were all different but culminated into one overall scientific experiment. We tried our hand at isolating RNA from the cells and we did a few different Polymerase Chain Reactions. What stood out to me was how everything came together at the end and it all just made sense. Though, it did take me a while to understand the specifics behind the process and analysis. I was definitely proud of my report which I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into.

When it comes to the microbiology aspect of the course, we’ve done that too, of course! In Practical and Medical Bacteriology, there were laboratory sessions every week that highlighted different kinds of bacteria which can induce different illnesses in humans. We studied the Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonas, and Vibrio groups of bacteria with different techniques. There were so many different techniques – different methods of isolation, identification, and quantification of the bacterial cells. It really made me appreciate the multitude of ways to analyse different bacteria.

Of course, there were many other experiments but I only highlighted the few that were most prominent to me. Here’s to more interesting laboratory sessions in the future!