00:09 My career path is somewhat unusual, my first degree was in medicine at the university of Newcastle,
00:16 and after qualifying I decided to go into laboratory medicine, actually into histopathology,
00:23 but decided that really wasn’t quite for me,
00:25 and moved into an allied, sister discipline of pathology, called clinical biochemistry.
00:31 The interesting thing was that my boss at that time believed his junior doctors knew very little science,
00:39 and he sent several of us across the university to do a straightforward chemistry degree.
00:44 So I was privileged, extraordinarily privileged in being able to do a chemistry degree after qualifying in medicine
00:50 and really that triggered a very unusual and quirky career pathway
00:56 because I was never quite a doctor and never quite a chemist.
00:59 I was essentially headhunted by ICI in those days, Imperial Chemical Industries, who were looking for
01:07 who were looking for a biotechnology approach to their products.
01:13 So suddenly, out of the blue, my career switched from being a developing NHS pathologist
01:21 to being a researcher, and since then I’ve simply expanded on my research activities in biochemical senses,
01:28 and that’s really what I research on currently, and that’s what brought on for me a hugely privileged career.
01:35 My entire life has been pivotal in being based on chemistry,
01:40 and I owe chemistry a great deal of what I’ve managed to do in my career.
01:48 On the medical side, they’re a nice way of monitoring patients, especially patients who might be critically ill
01:56 or might be diabetic, because what sensors can do is to provide continuous data,
02:02 real-time information about biochemical changes inside the body.
02:07 That was the medical side of the interest, but the chemistry side was
02:11 there were, of course, one had to develop the right chemistries,
02:14 and it’s those chemistries I’ve been trying to work on for a long, long time.
02:18 But the really intriguing and interesting part of this is number 1, how do you miniaturise?
02:24 So that you can implant these devices in human beings, and number 2,
02:28 how do you implant and at the same time allow the body to tolerate this alien implant of your sensor.
02:36 So that’s brought in yet another strand of interest which is implants and biomedical materials.
02:45 I mean hospital biochemistry, we do huge amounts of biochemical measurements.
02:50 My laboratory does about 5 and a half million tests per annum, but
02:55 this is on single samples of blood, and you get a slice of time which you can investigate.
03:03 What sensors do is provide a continuous readout.
03:06 So you have a continuous trace of the ups and downs of what the biochemistry’s doing inside the body.
03:17 We were very privileged to be awarded with our lead partners Imperial College,
03:24 a project to monitor elite athletes, and one can imagine that an elite athlete
03:31 is physiologically at the extreme of human endurance.
03:35 One might almost argue he or she is in an abnormal state,
03:39 which is not a million miles away from being critically ill actually,
03:34 and our small role in this is to provide biochemical sensors that allow for the kind of monitoring
03:51 that I’ve always envisaged for clinical monitoring,
03:55 and through the continuous readout, I emphasise the continuous readout, we hope indeed
04:01 to provide better insights, to training regimes and the wellbeing and performance of athletes.
04:12 At my stage, chemistry was much more of a standalone discipline,
04:17 but now it’s an interactive discipline, whether it’s interacting with physics,
04:22 material science, and in my case, biomedicine.
04:25 It is now entering those fields and demonstrating to those fields how powerful it is,
04:32 but because the mindset of chemists can help unravel the complexities of our natural world
04:38 in a way that we couldn’t fathom in those days, and now chemists entering applied worlds,
04:44 and so we can problem solve, and more importantly,
04:49 we’re having impending crises, of global warming, of energy limitation, of clean living
04:57 and chemists are beginning to make huge inroads into those areas.
05:05 Are you switched on by research and enquiry, or are you actually switched on more about delivering
05:12 practical things for society; in my context, healthcare,
05:16 and you’re at a crossroads and then you can make that decision that armed with that
05:21 granite, fundamental stone of chemistry you have the power to make that decision,
05:27 in a much, much more informed way, but there’s a deeper level.
05:32 It is the level that you achieve even though you might have forgotten all the chemistry you’ve learned,
05:38 it is a way of thinking, and that way of thinking translates across all sorts of disciplines.
05:44 Whatever the final career is, ultimately chemistry is there to solve the puzzle
05:50 of how molecules and atoms actually interact and work, and I think that’s what chemistry gives you.
05:56 Beyond that, chemistry doesn’t commit you to chemistry per se, it opens up many, many doors beyond chemistry.