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