PhD in Biomedical Sciences research student at University of Leeds

Ruth Norman

Please tell us the title of your PhD?

Remodelling of the cardiac caveolar domain in heart failure and its putative influence on β-adrenergic signalling.

What research are you undertaking?

I work in cardiac research looking at cardiac myocytes – the muscle cell of the heart.

What is the purpose of your research?

To further the current knowledge of how proteins are organised in the cardiac cell membrane and its effects on internal cellular signalling. I am looking at different models of heart failure to see how this organisation changes and this influences cell function.

How will this apply to real world applications?

A better understanding of how the myocyte changes at the protein and molecular level in heart failure and how this then affects the function of the heart could point towards possible drug targets to improve heart function in heart failure patients.

What facilities and specialise equipment do you use to help you carry out your research?

We have a variety of equipment which allowed us to isolate live single cardiac myocytes from a heart, allowing us to perform functional experiments on cells. The rig I use can stimulate the cardiac cells causing them to contract, which can then be measured. The rig is also equipped with a lamp and camera which allowed you to view fluorescent dye in real time, enabling you to record the levels of calcium changing within the cell from beat to beat.

What do you particularly enjoy about your research?

I enjoy the practical and problem solved aspect of my research. It’s very hands on and often things don’t work the way you want them to first time, so it often takes some thinking (and some asking other people) to try and answer the question. Then when you have your results trying to piece them together and understand where they fit in the current literature can be quite a challenge, but can be very rewarding when the pieces start to fit together.

Why did you choose to undertake a PhD?

The lab based dissertation and lab summer project was that I enjoyed most about my undergraduate degree, so I wanted to take this a step further and pursue a PhD.

What are your plans after you complete your PhD?

I plan to continue in research as I have enjoyed my time so far, but where I will do this still remains open.

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I really like Leeds as a city and the cardiovascular research group here have a good research output.

What have been the highlights of your time at the University of Leeds?

Attending the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) conference with my Lab in Birmingham.