A Day in the Life - Billie Crowe24 Aug 2022
Billie is a Research Scientist within Albumedix and a glowing example of our many bright minds behind the vial. Almost completing her third year working for the company, the subsequent discussion will take you through Billie's previous experience and her role within the Albumedix team. Albumedix is a recognized leader of best-in-class albumin-enabled solutions, and our Technology Centre is a vital part of our business. See what Billie has to say about her day-to-day duties in the Technical Group and see what fantastic advice she has for you!
Access the full episode here: A Day in the Life - Billie Crowe
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about how your day normally looks like at Albumedix. First of all, what is your job and responsibilities at Albumedix?
I am a Research Assistant, so I work in the development phases of how our product can be used. I work mostly in the lab, with Helen- our manager, and two other team members. Day-to-day I prepare what is needed in the lab with Sophie, prep reagents for the rest of the day and week, for example. We also work on our own projects; and, at the moment I am working with T-cells. I am currently looking at post-thaw expansion. As such, what we need to freeze them with and how can we improve the expansion of those cells to use in patients’ treatment. So, I mostly grow cells, freeze cells and count cells on a huge scale. Sometimes it’s a big project. Other times it’s a smaller project in terms of what might work on not.
What was your work experience before starting at Albumedix?
I have a degree in biomedical science from Nottingham Trent University. Before coming to Albumedix, I worked in a plant science company - which was my first job. I worked with molecular biology techniques and grew plants.
Because you now work with applied science – helping life science companies optimize their therapies for patients – what was the most important thing in finding the right career path for you?
I think it is important to do something that counts and has feedback for customers – so, how the product affects a patient’s life. That is really important to me, particularly when you have a long day at work – it is important to know that it helps someone.
You work with T-cells and other different cell types. What is unique about working with cells in comparison with other types of lab work?
Working with cells is like caring for little beings because you really have to care to keep them alive. It’s like babysitting! You have to be mindful about using the right media components or work in a sterile environment so you don’t contaminate them. It really keeps me in the present moment, focused.
Do you have a favourite cell type you like to work with?
Definitely, a T-cell – they are my favourite!
What is your favourite kind of work in the lab?
For example, we isolate T-cells from blood; and we start with quite small amounts of cells. In the end of the 10 incubation days, we will have an incubator full of T-cells. That is my favourite type of work, to see them growing and get to huge amounts of cells from such tiny quantities that we have at the beginning.
It’s like you visually see a result of your work; that’s exciting! You said you work in a team; can you tell me more about your work team and colleagues?
Some things, we do in pairs, moving things around and so on... Other things, like in a T-cell project, we just pick a job each that we can do alongside each other and help everybody get their project done. It is really nice to work together in a team and we can tell when the other person needs help so we can give a hand. We have monthly sushi lunch trips which are great!
If someone is out there and listens to your job description, what would be your advice to them if they wanted to do something similar?
I would tell them that they need to learn as many methods and techniques as they can, because that’s what employers are looking for – practical application of methods and techniques. With that, a person also learns what they enjoy and want to do further, and how methods function together.
Can you point to something you are really proud of having done?
More recently the T cells were not growing as well as we wanted. So it was a lot of investigation to find a way to get more and healthier cells. I tested different methods and media and was so proud when we found a combination that worked really well and resulted in an incubator full of cells.
Congratulations, I hope you celebrated with your colleagues! On a more personal level, is there anything that you can tell me about yourself that none of your colleagues knows about you?
I like doing Pilates and making clothes. After I finished University, my mother gave me a sewing machine and I started watching YouTube videos about making clothes; so, that is something I enjoy.
What do you make?
Dresses and shorts. It’s very difficult to make winter clothes, so it’s mostly summer clothes. I really enjoy doing that, and going for walks in the countryside, or to travel and see the world.
Before COVID, what was the last place you travelled to?
I have been to Pisa in Italy, with my sister. It was really cool to be in other cities of Italy so fast with the train, we were at the beach in less than one hour.
My last question: is there anything you received from Albumedix in terms of training or development that really pushed through your expertise?
Last year, myself and Helen wanted to do a Flow cytometry training, which is a machine we got during COVID. Because there was no “in-person” training at the time, we did a live online course for a couple of days. That was really great, because flow cytometry is such a great method to use in the lab! It would be good to do some other courses, but this time in person at a different location. It would be interesting to learn more about CAR-T therapy, which is why we grow our T-cells; and how to have them in a really good condition to treat patients.