Biochemistry alumni from University of Leeds

Gavin McStay

Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

The university was recommended to me and I was able to apply to programmes once I was there that would allow me to get more experience in biochemistry.

What did you enjoy about your course?

My fellow students were a great source of encouragement and support. My tutor, Professor Sheena Radford really pushed me to understand the material and make me appreciate the topic. 

Did you undertake placement or study abroad year? We would love to hear about it. 

I spent one year in industry at AstraZeneca Charnwood (site now closed) in Loughborough. This was the experience that made me decide to go into a research career. 

What have you been doing since finishing your studies? What are you doing in terms of your career? Career developments/highlights to date?) 

I completed a PhD at the University of Bristol, sponsored by a US-based biotechnology company in San Diego, MitoKor, in the Department of Biochemistry under the guidance of Professor Andrew Halestrap. I was looking at cell death mechanisms in the heart. I was able to spend 3 month in San Diego as part of my PhD. I then moved to San Diego to carry out post-doctoral work under the guidance of Douglas Green, researching apoptosis, at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. The lab then moved to Memphis in Tennessee to St Jude Children's Research Hospital. I then moved to Columbia University in New York City to work with Professor Alexander Tzagoloff to research mitochondrial biogenesis. 

What company are you working for, what is your role and what does it involve? 

I currently work at the New York Institute of Technology, a small private college based in New York City and Long Island. I am an assistant professor that teaches biochemistry and cell biology to undergraduate students. I also conduct research with undergraduate students looking into cell death mechanisms and mitochondrial biogenesis. 

What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career/will help with your future career? (How did your degree benefit your career?)

The opportunities and tutoring I experienced in the Department of Biochemistry made me want to become a full-time researcher. My tutor pushed me to understand complex material, which allowed by to grasp complicated concepts and delve deeper into the different topics. The year in industry made me realize that I enjoy working in the research lab environment and carrying out research is one of the most unique jobs one can have. 

Have you any advice you would offer to current and prospective students?

Seek out as many opportunities as you can - speak to your teachers

Do you have LinkedIn profile? Would you like to provide a link?