Biomedical Science student makes welcome contribution to fight against fatal disease

A Biomedical Science student is helping to fight a disease that threatens millions of people in some of the poorest countries in the world.

James Cooper has been contributing to vital De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) research after being awarded a grant by the Wellcome Trust.

James Cooper main

The 22-year-old has joined a team that is developing drugs to combat neglected tropical diseases, namely Human African Trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, caused by a parasite carried by the tsetse fly.

This is in line with the World Health Organisation's efforts to eliminate the disease by 2020.

James said: "The work, led by Dr Avninder Bhambra, is vital because the drugs used to treat the disease are outdate and have unwanted side-effects, in some cases even death.

"It feels good doing something to benefit others - and it's great to know the research will be taken forward."

James spent eight weeks helping create a potential new treatment after receiving the Wellcome Trust Vacation Scholarship, aimed at providing promising undergraduates with hands-on research experience.

He said: "I was thrilled to receive such a competitive grant.

"The experience I gained was invaluable. In a short space of time I learned new methods, how to use a variety of laboratory equipment, and became proficient in completing tasks to deadline.

"I got the opportunity to meet and work alongside international students, both undergraduates and postgraduates, and attend guest lectures.

"It was a really fun experience and has provided me with skills I can take forward."


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James is continuing to contribute to the programme through his final-year project.

He said: "The drug discovery research was based around what we expect to be toxic to parasites. The next stage is to test compounds against human cells."

James is currently applying for a PhD, with his eventual career goal to become a research scientist - something he'd never even thought about before coming to DMU.

He said: "I was looking to study something in the field of biology and DMU's Biomedical Science course looked interesting and had the Institute of Biomedical Science accreditation."

James has found studying at DMU "inspiring" and there is no doubt about his favourite course feature or university highlight - the Research and Innovation module and two final-year #DMUglobal trips!

He said: "The first was to Copenhagen to attend the annual congress for the European Society of Medical Oncology. I had the chance to attend talks from world-leading medical professionals, which was inspiring for someone with my desire to pursue a career in research.

"The second trip involved me giving scientific presentations to public and private schools in Bermuda, as part of Dr Carika Weldon's #ScienceWithScientists 2016 tour, and focused on developing my presentation skills for employment and my final-year project."

Posted on Wednesday 8 February 2017

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