Summer placement briefing by 4th year Biochemistry and Biomedical Science students

3 Nov 2015
Jessica Neville (4th Year Biomedical Science), Stephen Power (4th Year Biomedical Science), Leanne O’Sullivan (4th Year Biomedical Science), Elaine O’Brien (4th Year Biochemistry), Ellen O’Rourke (4th Year Biochemistry), Jennifer Corbishley (4th Year Biochemistry), Beth Butler (4th Year Biochemistry) and Denise Curran (4th Year Biochemistry). Photo credit: Mary Heapes, School of Biochemistry & Cell Biology.

Current BSc in Biochemistry and BSc in Biomedical Science 4th year students gave presentations to the 3rd year Biochemistry and 3rd Year Biomedical Science students on their Summer work placement experiences last year.

Photo credits: Mary Heapes, School of Biochemistry & Cell Biology.


Dr Sinéad Kerins would like to thank the current BSc in Biochemistry and BSc in Biomedical Science 4th year students who gave presentations to the 3rd year Biochemistry and 3rd Year Biomedical Science students, on their Summer work placements on Tuesday 3rd November. The 4th year students gave outstanding presentations and provided the 3rd year students with excellent information, and advice.

Overall the 3rd year students were provided with excellent information on summer work placements, which should be of great benefit to them when applying for positions during the Summer of 2016.

Beth Butler, Biochemistry 4 

Beth worked for 14 weeks in the new Glanbia plant in South Kilkenny. She gained valuable experience in current good manufacturing practice (cGMP), writing and reviewing standard operating procedures (SOP’s) and was trained in the operation, maintenance, calibration and verification of analytic instruments. Beth was also involved in validation of process equipment. She informed the audience that working in Glanbia allowed her to advance many personal skills, such as effective communication and team working.

I am extremely happy with my decision to gain experience in industry. It has confirmed my intention to work in industry and has been of huge benefit to me when applying for graduate programmes”.

Jennifer Corbishley, Biochemistry 4

Jennifer worked in Summer 2014 at Genzyme, Waterford and in Summer 2015 at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. 

At Genzyme Jennifer worked in the Microbiology laboratory on water sampling/testing, sterility, environmental/biological indicator testing, and maintenance of reports.

At the Karolinska Instituet, Jennifer worked with the Pontus Aspenström research group on a project focused on cell polarity. Jennifer gained experience in mammalian tissue culture, transfection with siRNA, SDS-PAGE, Western Blots and Immunofluorescence. Jennifer also had some time to travel and in addition to enjoying the science, she really enjoyed experiencing a new culture and meeting new people.

Denise Curran, Biochemistry 4

Denise did a Summer placement at Astellas, Killorglin, Co. Kerry. She called the company on spec and was advised to apply for their Summer placement programme. Following her successful application, she had the opportunity to carry out packaging operations and line maintenance activities. She also carried out relevant area and material checks, and conducted IPC testing of products and QC sampling. In addition, Denise set up and operated equipment needed in the process, and completed relevant documentation associated with operations.

Mary Frost, Biochemistry 4

Mary worked for 3 months in Eurofins, Lancaster Laboratories, Co. Waterford. She carried out tests on pharmaceutical products, and assisted other analysts in their roles. She expanded her knowledge and further developed skills gained from undergraduate laboratory classes.

Overall, I am delighted to have had the opportunity to gain this experience and I would highly recommend for other students to get hands on experience in a laboratory. I believe that this experience in a GMP environment will stand to me when applying for jobs as a postgraduate”.

Christina Killian, Biochemistry 4

Christina secured an APC Summer Scholarship to do a research project with Dr Susan Joyce, Bile Research Group, School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology.

Christina’s project involved screening Lactobacillus strains of human origin for bile salt altering activity. She described the experience she gained in microbiological techniques, biochemical systems, bioinformatics, DNA technologies, project organisation, planning, writing, discussion and presentation in an integrated setting.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the lab, so much so that I hope to continue my career in research and academic discovery”.

Jessica Neville, Biomedical 4

Jessica worked for Dr Collette Hand, Pathology Department, UCC on a project entitled “Do Irish Periodic Paralysis patients have a common genetic origin?”.

This projected was funded by Wellcome Trust and Jessica discovered that there is a common genetic haplotype in Irish Periodic Paralysis patients. She presented her results at the National Society of Human Genetics conference in poster format, and her abstract was published by the Ulster Medical Journal.

Elaine O Brien, Biochemistry 4

Elaine worked with Dr Sharon McKenna, Principal Investigator, Cork Cancer Research Centre, UCC. Elaine has a keen interest in cancer biology and examined the effect of Ube2l6 on autophagy induced by valproic acid (VPA) and fluoroacil in esophageal cancer cells.

Elaine gained experience in Western blotting, Fluorescent microscopy, Flow-cytometry, Microscopic imaging, Cyto-spinning, Tissue culture and Transfection.

I really loved the opportunity to manage my own project and appreciate the opportunity I witnessed cutting edge science in real life”.

Ellen O’Rourke, Biochemistry 4

Ellen worked in GSK Dungarvan for 3 months as a laboratory assistant. She really enjoyed working in a pharmaceutical environment and worked in the OTC quality control lab, where Panadol and Solpadeine are tested.

Ellen’s main duties were; logging the batches that came into the lab from the manufacturing floor, pooling samples from the batch to make a composite for further testing and tablet physical testing (ATW, thickness, hardness, friability, disintegration). She was also trained on volumetric solution preparation and analysis, pH measurement, LOD & IR moisture analysis. She also learned about QC/QA GMP requirements and SOP’s.

It was a great environment to work in and gave me an insight to what the pharmaceutical industry would be like to work in”.

Leanne O’Sullivan, Biomedical 4

Leanne was a member of the first Irish team to participate in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition held in Boston 2014, and also, was a member of the 2015 UCC iGEM team.

The 2014 project was on an intermediate filament of hagfish slime expressed in E. coli.

The 2015 project sought to develop a bacterial-based DNA detection system - Basehunter.

Overall the experience was incredible, with many highs and lows. I gained amazing lab experience, the confidence to work independently and the drive to work hard to overcome the inevitable problems faced in carrying out research experiments. Working with a student team was also a great experience, as we all learned to contribute our many skills to make the project the best it could be”.

The UCC iGEM 2015 team, won gold in a prestigious synthetic biology competition held in Boston USA, for this project.

Stephen Power, Biomedical 4

Stephen worked with Dr Cora O’Neill, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Lab, School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology.

Stephen secured a Biochemical Society Summer Studentship investigating the relationship between neuronal insulin resistance and Fyn, during the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Significant laboratory experience was gained in techniques such as, western immunoblotting and double immunofluorescence microscopy. Stephen also developed his scientific writing skills and he submitted a final report outlining his results to the Biochemical Society.

Biochemical Society News

At the same event, Dr Eoin Fleming, who is the Biochemical Society Local Ambassador, also presented and provided the students with information on Biochemical Society Summer Studentships, how to apply for same and highlighted the benefits of being a member of the Biochemical Society.


Dr Eoin Fleming, School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology speaking for the Irish Area Section of the Biochemical Society (IASBS) Dr Eoin Fleming, School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and Ambassador for the Irish Area Section of the Biochemical Society (IASBS)Photo credit: Mary Heapes, School of Biochemistry & Cell Biology.


School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology

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University College Cork, Western Road, Cork.