Science fun: Playtime, reflections, and illusions.

Half-term reflections and fun with my young grandchildren (fun for ’grown-up kids’ too). We took these photos at the Museum of Illusions in Dubai. I highly recommend a visit there.

Photos of JDC and Illusions taken at the Museum of Illusions

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 09/11/22

‘Jabbed to go’, proceeding with caution, and a trip to the UAE.

I have just arrived back from a few interesting, invigorating, and enlightening weeks in the UAE. This visit was primarily for an important personal family commitment in Dubai, but I was also making the most of the trip on many levels, some of general interest to me and some work-related. On the basis of ‘jabbed to go’- I did go but still proceeded with caution by having my 4th covid vaccine jab some 6 weeks ago (and the annual flu jab around the same time). The trip proved to be an excellent and productive experience.

More to come about this mini adventure…

Meanwhile, I have a few comments about proceeding with caution:

Having received NHS invitations for my 4th covid vaccine jab and seasonal flu jab I ensured I was booked in as soon as possible.

‘Jabbed to go’.

Mask wearing although required in some specific situations seems to be largely a matter for personal judgement these days. My experience in the UAE felt safe and reassuring. However, on arrival back in the UK seeing the packed airport arrival hall and extensive queuing of hundreds of unmasked people I immediately put a face mask on as a precaution. The staff were doing their best in difficult circumstances. Such situations at airports really need to be improved!

I am still feeling ‘picky’ about travel and events – making the most of any trip I do take and getting maximum value out of any event.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 6/11/22

Looking forward: Life Science students and early career researchers.

Very best wishes to all those embarking on studies and research careers, particularly in life sciences and of course generally as well. How the world and humankind need you! How we should all be encouraging and supporting the younger research generation. For all those students and researchers driven by a passion for their subject it should be a time to really enjoy studying and research for the sake of research; a time to explore interests and have a great life and social life too. It’s not the easiest of times and research can be very frustrating with many ups and downs. It was ever thus. It is however an adventure with opportunities to grasp, whilst keeping a sense of perspective and having fun! Many of us are willing you on to a great future!

Looking forward…

The skills learnt will be transferable for many different career options. Early career researchers have much to contribute, and they deserve to be challenged, encouraged, and supported in their research careers. They also have so much potential in many walks of life and different spheres.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 27/9/22

Summer reflections and perspectives.

Summer holidays are coming to a close for many people. On reflection I’ve had mainly a fun and productive summer, but I am conscious that it has not always been so for many people including myself, particularly recently. Looking back to a previous holiday earlier this year I share some photos I took capturing some different moods and moments over a period of a few weeks in the same place on a different holiday. We shouldn’t take things too much for granted in life or how other people are feeling.

Moods and Perspectives sea views

Here is another photo I took from my garden on return from my holiday back to the UK last weekend.
Rainbow and trees from the garden in the UK
(Photo capturing a moment on the evening of 18/9/22).

Behind many a photo lies an interesting story to tell…

To hope and optimism.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 23/9/22

‘Looking back so that the view looking forward is even clearer.‘

It is a period of time for thoughtful reflection.

It has been an emotional time in the UK and worldwide, with many different feelings and perspectives.

This week as the world bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth ll the ceremony was impressive in its scale, impact, and organisation. Whether it was to everyone’s taste or not, for a great many people it provided a focus – a coming together, and time to pause and reflect on many things.

Let’s hope this is an impetus to build on the ways we are similar, because despite our many differing views, there are some values and dreams that most people hold dear and aspire to for future generations and for the future of humankind.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 21/9/22

(Note: original source of quote is unknown)

Stay with me – a poem of loss and comfort.

I have very occasionally had the most vivid dreams about each of my parents which brought me great comfort. My mum died 10 years ago this May and my dad died 27 years ago this September. I recently wrote this poem to capture some intense feelings of loss and comfort. I thought it might be timely to share my poem with you as many people will be missing loved ones.


In a dream
You are here.
I can see, touch, and sense you.
I know it’s a dream
But just for now
Please stay with me a moment.

Life hurts.
I still miss you.

©Julie Charlesworth, 2022

Losing one parent was hard. With the second parent also gone I felt a profound sadness and a surreal sense of emptiness. However, their most precious legacy is their values, and the stories that continue to be passed on. In this way, I still feel the closeness and love of my parents.

I wrote this poem in memory of my parents and thinking of all those in mourning or missing loved ones.

Thinking of families and individuals who have lost loved ones or are reminded of the loss of loved ones, particularly this week and during difficult times.

It is also a period of time for thoughtful reflection.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 10/9/22

PhD.  First-author publication in Nature. Grateful for the chances that made this possible.

First-author publication in Nature on my own cancer research and DNA repair work! I still regard this as a career and life highlight. Published as a PhD student! The joy of science discovery and success in my early to mid 20’s (after an earlier blip at 18y).

[It was a key paper in the field – published in 1979 during my PhD research years and in my maiden name Buckley; my subsequent publications are in my current name Charlesworth.]

I am grateful to those at Manchester University who gave me a chance at 18 years old. Over the next three years I earned my degree in biochemistry. Thereafter, I went on to achieve a PhD and research success in my early 20’s at the Paterson Institute and the Christie Hospital, Manchester, UK.

Significance of research findings. As far as we were aware this was the first published evidence of such inducible DNA repair. In this case ‘Pretreatment with acetylaminofluorine enhances the repair of O6-methyl guanine in DNA.’ Other researchers subsequently published similar findings in other systems. My findings were found to be reproducible and the basis of further research by many others in the field.

It is noteworthy that these research results were the opposite of my initial PhD hypothesis and expected findings. However, the results turned out to be so much more interesting!

I was not particularly skilled in lab technique. I wasn’t the best PhD student.

My success was largely down to dollop of luck and sheer tenacity!

I am particularly grateful to my supportive supervisor Dr Peter O’Connor (‘PJ’) and helpful technicians at the Paterson Institute, Christie Hospital. Fellow PhD students, Post docs, and a lively and diverse scientific community made this an unforgettable experience intellectually and socially!

There would be many ups and downs to follow.

Little did I know how many different opportunities would unfold over the years.

I could not have predicted that writing, medical communications and science communications would feature strongly later in my career. Although at the time I really enjoyed researching and writing the introduction to my PhD thesis. There would be many twists and turns to come – life happens.

My interest in cancer research and my fascination in DNA continues. It seems DNA is ‘in my DNA’😉🧬😊.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 25/8/22

A message on Results Day for the 18 year olds.

It happened to me at 18y old. Thinking of those students who might miss their predicted grades for this year’s A levels etc. It has happened and will happen to many others too and they went on or will go on nevertheless to achieve high academic achievements, other successes, and happiness.

Congratulations to those who are delighted with their results today – celebrate and be proud. To those who are disappointed – be aware that most successful people have a blip or a few blips along the way. Don’t panic – you’ll learn a lot from this. Have the tenacity to try and get what you want most at the moment, and have a plan B. Sometimes a different choice proves to be even better in hindsight. It will seem like a momentous day for many teenagers and parents. Take care, see the broader perspective, and keep positive. There will be many opportunities ahead!

I am thankful to Manchester University for taking a chance on me many years ago. It turned out to be the best choice for me!

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 18/8/22

Uplifting posts on parental joy!

Parental joy! I find it uplifting to see the recent posts of pride from many mums and dads – the love is palpable. Graduations, weddings, and birthdays. Simply and very importantly family holiday time. These aspects of life, work, and play – create memories, and perspectives of parental joy whether from our own parents or for our offspring.

I am grateful to have had all these occasions to celebrate over the years being a mum of 3 grown up ‘kids’. Proud of all their high academic, professional and career achievements of course. Happy to see them finding love and over recent years their weddings. Most of all I am proud that they have grown up to be lovely human beings with good values. Some of those values I recognise, and I hope I have passed on from my own parents. Do not underestimate the intelligence and values of the smart working class. I think it is important to remember your roots, pass on the stories, the values, and the love.

None of this is taken for granted because there are many ups and downs for everyone. My parents were proud of me too. I feel thankful and full of gratitude to be a proud mum of 3 and a very happy grandma of wonderful grandchildren.

Thinking of parental joy whether as parents ourselves or as sons and daughters of parents (current or passed).

Enjoy the celebrations, and memories with family (whatever that means to you, and whoever and however you want to celebrate).

Remember your roots and values.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 11/8/22

Yorkshire Day – 1st August 2022.

Happy Yorkshire Day!
Manchester made me, I’d have to say.
But I was once a Yorkshire lass.
Born and bred there some time past.

Thankful to have some Northern grit.
And, what the world needs now is some Northern wit!

🎉Thinking of Yorkshire folk and those with Yorkshire connections🎉

Today, I am pausing to think of my Yorkshire roots.

by Dr Julie Charlesworth 1/8/22

(On the subject of Yorkshire roots, I should add that the Yorkshire rhubarb in my garden continues to thrive in 2022! See previous post on home comforts and humour in tough times.)