Olivia Hibbitt

Favourite Thing: Getting results from an experiment that has worked!…..This happens once every ten years by the light of the full moon!

Me and my work

Gene therapy for high cholesterol; vectors, delivery is it going to help people?

My work involves making new gene expression vectors that hopefully will help people who don’t have a working copy of a gene called the low density lipoprotein receptor. This gene takes the bad cholesterol out of the blood. When it doesn’t work too much bad cholesterol circulates in the blood stream and starts to clog up arteries. About 100 000 people in the UK have this condition and I hope that my work will help improve the treatment for them!

My Typical Day

Bacteria…..blood….cells……DNA……and that’s just lunch!

I get into work at about 9, check my email, have a cup of coffee and that is where the routine stops! Each day I could be doing something different. On Friday I did some tissue culture – growing cells taken from people in plastic flasks. I also did something called a Western Blot – this is looking at the types of proteins that are present in different samples…..Western Blots SUCK! I also had a meeting with my boss and a lab meeting and had to cycle up the hill to drop some samples off for processing! Then at about 7pm I go home to my kids!!! myimage1

What I'd do with the money

I’d use it as a scholarship for a A-level student to come work in my lab

Work experience for scientists is really important and I think it’s ridiculous that students don’t get to work in a real lab until, sometimes the third year of their degree. I would use the money to allow a couple of A-level students to work with me in my lab for a month over summer. The money would be used to pay for the things they would use and maybe give them a little bit of pocket money!

– ALSO a student on Tuesday gave me a great idea to bring this to more people! After the 4-6 week stint in the lab the students and I would go to a few schools to talk about the work we did, what it was like working in a lab, what it was like working with me (which would of COURSE be great!), whether it changed their mind about being a scientist, made them more determined etc……..

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Outgoing, stubborn, enthusiastic

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Too hard – I have to break it down into situations – Tissue culture and other lab stuff – Foo Fighters, Muse, Raconteurs. Running – Fratellis, Marylin Manson, Too many DJs; Walking the twins – Cage the Elephant, white stripes, Breaks Co-op

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I’ve been travelling europe for the past 8 years and there have been loads of fun times! Dog sledding in the Artic, hogmanay in Edinburgh; Marco Polo festival in Korcula, Croatia; watching the sun go down on Naxos!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

World peace! Just kidding – well I want my son to be an All Black, my daughter to invent the thing that will save the planet and for my experiments to work so I can find a cure for familial hypercholesterolaemia

What did you want to be after you left school?

I went to Uni to do medicine because I foolishly thought I wanted to be a doctor – My first lecture on Anatomy changed my mind and that’s what I decided I wanted to do, science!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Not really in trouble….there was the time I almost killed a A level science class by evaporating chloroform in a fume hood that wasn’t working!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Talking at conferences is pretty cool, it’s the closest thing a scientist will ever get to being a celebrity!

Tell us a joke.

You don’t want to know any science jokes! They are too lame!!!