For the past few weeks, first-year EASTBIO student Zoe Gidden (based at the University of Edinburgh, supervised by Professor Lynne Regan and Dr Mathew Horrocks) has been volunteering in the Pathology Department at Northampton General Hospital to help set up COVID-19 testing. Shortly after returning home, Zoe reached out to the Head of Pathology, Augustus Lusack, to offer her help at what is a challenging time for the department.
Since then, Zoe has been working closely with Augustus and two University of Northampton PhD students, David Young and Charlotte Brookes, to set up an in-house molecular laboratory capable of COVID-19 testing. The team is extracting viral RNA from patient swabs and then using RT-PCR to detect if SARS-CoV-2 RNA is present. Zoe has found that laboratory techniques she learnt during the first year of her PhD (PCR and nucleic acid extraction), along with problem solving skills have helped her to make valuable contributions to the team’s efforts.