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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Cara Vallance IfLS PhD: Integration of Microfluidic Cell Culture with NMR Spectroscopy for Correlation Metabolomics, 2016/17

Postgraduate research student

Cara Vallance's Photo

Hi, I'm Cara Vallance and I studied IfLS PhD: Integration of Microfluidic Cell Culture with NMR Spectroscopy for Correlation Metabolomics within Institute for Life Sciences at the University of Southampton.

IfLS PhD projects offers opportunities for students to enter into research covering multiple disciplines, giving them the chance to obtain a range of skills, network and share information. I believe it is key for future career prospects and furthering research in many fields.

I began my career at The Nottingham Trent University in 2010 with a Bachelors degree in Forensic Science. This particular course was heavily science based and itself an interdisciplinary subject, giving me a background in areas such as Microbiology, Genetics, Instrumental Analysis and Environmental Sciences to name a few.

This fueled me to continue my studies, gaining a Master of Research in Analytical Chemistry, with the main focuses looking at Instrumental Analysis, Drug Detection and alongside information extraction techniques such as Chemometrics. Here I completed a project analyzing genuine and counterfeit cigarettes via NMR, ICP-OES and GC-MS with applied Multivariate Statistical Analysis.

My PhD is supervised by Dr. Marcel Utz from the faculty of Chemistry and Prof. Hywel Morgan from the faculty of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), and is an amalgamation of engineering, biology, chemistry and instrumental analysis. My current role involves carrying out cell culture and viability studies and optimization of cells on a microfluidic chip for metabolomics analysis by NMR spectroscopy.

Chip-based cell cultures allow us to expose cells to variations in growth conditions, and changes in the metabalome by introducing drugs, changes in temperature, biological signals and various other stimuli. This type of analysis is being considered more and more for the development of new drugs, for instance as an alternative to animal testing.

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