Genomics research can transform lives

Joanne Swidenbank is a KESS2 PhD student, partnered with Cardiff and Vale UHB and Genomics Partnership Wales. Her thesis title is: Developing the health workforce in genomics: a longitudinal, cross-Wales, multicentre, interdisciplinary case study.

"Working as a haemophilia research nurse opened my eyes to the benefits of research for people living with genetic disorders. I remember one of patients saying they felt ‘almost cured’ when a clinical trial reduced their number of bleeds, and lengthy trips to hospital for painful infusions. I realised what a difference it made, not just clinically to their health but to their quality of life.

"Technology and medical scientific advances in genetics and genomics are moving forward at a rapid pace. In order to bring these benefits to the people of Wales, healthcare professionals require up-to-date education on genetics and genomics relevant to their area of clinical practice. These could be targeted therapies (also known as pharmacogenomics) for cancer patients; diagnostic tests for rare diseases or the development of new antibiotic therapies to target antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

"My PhD looks at the best way to teach this genomics and genetics education to healthcare professionals in Wales, both in terms of content and how it is delivered. Although my PhD is looking at healthcare professional education, it is patients and the public who will benefit from new diagnostics and therapies delivered to them.

"I am only six months into my PhD but I am really enjoying it. I love the postgraduate research community here. USW has a very supportive and friendly culture amongst both staff and students which has made the transition from full-time nurse to full-time student much easier!

"In the Faculty of Life Sciences and Education we have a dedicated office which has some excellent creature comforts (which are essential for long days of studying!) and the other PGR students are a wonderful source of advice and support. We’re all at various stages of our research careers which is great as those further along can help and reassure those of us just starting out.

"I’m very open about where my PhD could take me. I would, perhaps, like to teach undergraduate nurses as well as continue my research career in academia. However I would also love to work in Welsh Government on health policy, or even in the third sector in a research capacity.

"The great thing about a PhD is that it builds invaluable skills and is a significant piece of professional development which lends itself to all sorts of roles and job sectors. The world really is your oyster!"

Related information