Simon Tso
Clinical Research Fellow

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Transcript

Clinical Researchers are not very good at remembering stuff!

My name is Simon, I’m a Clinical Research Fellow at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital. What I am focusing on at the moment is on a research project that looks at people affected by this rare genetic skin condition called Autosomal Recessive Congenital Ichthyosis.

So everyone is made up of genetic blueprints, and in the blueprint you can look different from your siblings, from your parents, because there are small changes to the genetic code. Now sometimes, some people, for the genetic code for the skin, there are certain changes that make the skin go red and scaly and because of that change it makes people with this type of skin condition to have very dry scaly skin and can be painful as well. So by understanding the relationship between how the genetic code is, with how the skin actually look like, that would be a step to help us to improve the way we diagnose this skin condition, as well as explaining to the parents how things are going to evolve over a period of time in the future.

Every day is unique for me: one day I might be doing administrative duties, another day I might be meeting patients in the clinics, another day I might be traveling to lovely places around the country to attend conferences, to network with people and learn new things. I can be doing things from shopping (not for myself but for my research project!), to liaising contracts. So my work is so varied, I’m not just based in one place, I get to travel a lot. It’s this variety of things that I can do that makes my job so special and unique.

So what attracted me to this career: I think it really goes back to a long time ago when I was younger, I found out about people like Alexander Fleming, who is the person who discovered Penicillin, before all of this happened, people could die from having a very small wound on the body, but nowadays it doesn’t happen anymore. And it is through this amazing discovery that it made me determined to do something similar, and that’s what, you know, drove me to come into a clinical research career.

I think the key ingredient to success in clinical research, is that you need to be a very determined person, you need to have a very inquisitive mind and more importantly you need to be a good communicator so that you can talk to your colleagues, share your ideas, and explain to the public about what you’re actually doing, how it matters to them as well.

It doesn’t really matter about what background you are coming from, or what grades you actually get: the most important thing is to have an inquisitive mind and having the determination to find answers to questions. Through that we may come up with new ways of doing things like new ways of treating a disease, and ultimately, by applying that we can translate our research findings into ways that we can actually improve patient care and improve their quality of life to make this world a slightly better place for everyone.

A few words from Simon ...

I am a medical doctor who spends a lot of time carrying out research. I am working with a team of doctors and researchers investigating a group of rare but poorly understood genetic skin disease called autosomal recessive congenital ichthyosis, where affected babies have red and scaly skin. We hope that the findings from our research study will enable us to better understand the relationship between the physical appearance of affected individuals and the underlying genetic mutations that caused these skin diseases. Understanding this relationship will be crucial in improving the way we make diagnosis and management plans for affected individuals.

Exciting aspects of Simon's job

As part of my job I get to travel all around the United Kingdom to meet new people and learn new things.

I am standing at the forefront of science and technology, and have access to sophisticated equipment that few people in the world get to use.

In research, I am doing something different all the time, there is never a dull moment.

As a clinical researcher, I help to translate research findings from the laboratory into actual clinical practice which can transform patient care.

As part of the wider National Institute for Health Research Rare Diseases Translational Research Collaboration initiative, we are helping people with rare diseases to get better access to high quality healthcare.

Challenges

Sometimes, travelling a lot can be quite tiring.

In research you are testing out new ideas. You cannot always predict the outcome and you may get disappointed at times.

Grades needed
  • Complete a medicine degree programme in a university that is recognised by the General Medical Council (United Kingdom).
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