Matthew is a PhD student at Newcastle University. His research areas of interest include diagnostic and translational therapies towards antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In our short catch up, Matthew shares with us what he has enjoyed about doing a PhD and his research into diagnostics for AMR.
What sparked your interest in starting a PhD?
Initially I started applying for PhDs for the wrong reason, I had talked to people in industry and in academia and they told me you should do a PhD if you want to go up the ladder quicker and earn more money. However, during the application process for PhDs I started my laboratory project as part of my Master of Research course and I quickly realised I loved being in the lab, learning practical skills and seeing the techniques I had learnt in lectures put into practice. From starting that project my applications were more successful because I was a lot more enthusiastic about laboratory work and wanted to do a PhD for the correct reasons. I was physically seeing the outcome of my work and could see how one day that research would make a difference in the world.
What have you enjoyed the most about your research and your PhD?
There are many benefits of undertaking a PhD, some to mention are the ability to manage your own time and collaborate with esteemed colleagues from whom you can learn a lot. The most enjoyable aspect of doing a PhD is having the freedom to research an area I am most interested in and to go off and explore different avenues my research has taken me. I believe that I am extremely lucky to have been offered a PhD in the field of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is a subject I’ve always been interested in, so reading about the subject has never felt like work to me. During my PhD I have had access to training resources and workshops that I would never have had access to outside of academia; for instance, when I first started my PhD I was poor at writing in a scientific way, but through attending scientific writing workshops I have improved drastically.
Why is developing multiplexed point-of-care diagnostics for AMR important?
AMR is becoming increasingly more prevalent in healthcare settings. Without affective antibiotics diseases that are currently easily treatable will once again become life threatening, taking us back to a pre-antibiotic era. A point-of-care test can promptly detect AMR in individuals allowing healthcare workers to act appropriately, including by isolating patients to prevent the spread of disease and dissemination of resistance towards antibiotics.
How do you hope your research will contribute to reducing the impact of AMR?
Hopefully, I will have contributed a significant amount of work towards building a platform in which multiple targets can be detected in a single reaction that can not only be applied to AMR but can be transferred to other targets that contribute to disease. I hope that as a group we successfully develop a point-of-care test that will one day be widely used in hospitals and GP offices to screen patients for AMR. By providing early warning systems for AMR, dissemination of resistance can be prevented and in serious cases positive AMR results can be used to inform healthcare workers on the correct cause of treatment.
Tell us about something you enjoy outside of your research?
I’m big into sports, having been brought up to love Newcastle United my dad used to take me to all the games growing up, but my passion for sport doesn’t just end at football. I was introduced to squash at the age of 7 and haven’t stopped playing it since. Through friends I’ve made along the way I’ve been introduced to a whole range of sports and now most of my leisure time is spent either playing squash, golf, going bouldering or training in mixed martial arts. Although lacking in any ability to play a musical instrument I love music of (mostly) all genres, I’m a keen collector of vinyl records and you’ll usually find me in charge of the music being played in the lab.