International Day of Women and Girls in Science – Lisa Ayers

Today is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, so we sat down with Lisa Ayers the HSST Training Programme Director here at the National School of Healthcare Science to hear all about her journey through science

Lisa joined the NSHCS as the Training Programme Director for HSST in June 2019. She undertook her undergraduate degree in Biology at Oxford Brookes University. Her first role out of University was as a Research Assistant in a Cancer Research UK laboratory, working for the University of Southampton. She found the work fascinating, although wanted to be more involved in research that could be directly translated to patient care. She successfully applied to train as a Clinical Scientist in Clinical Immunology, in the Oxford Immunology Laboratory, where she also studied for a MSc in Medical Immunology at Kings College London.

Following completion of her training and registering as a Clinical Scientist, she applied for one of the first CSO/NIHR Fellowships. This Fellowship allowed her to undertake a part time PhD, whilst continuing to work in the role that she loved as a Healthcare Scientist. Her PhD was in the novel area of extracellular vesicles, which can be inflammatory and pro-coagulant markers in the blood. She initially focused her research in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea, moving on to pre-eclampsia, coronary artery disease and hypertension.

After her PhD, she successfully applied for a part-time postdoctoral NIHR Fellowship to continue her research, whilst developing a career as a Clinical Academic in Healthcare Science. The research conducted during her PhD and Post-Doc lead to multiple publications and presentations, both nationally and internationally. She also supervised many undergraduate, masters and PhD students, and she continues to supervise a NIHR funded Healthcare Scientist completing her PhD. In 2016, she was awarded the Rising Star – Life Sciences at the CSO Healthcare Science awards, for her role as a Clinical Academic in Healthcare Science.

To further her clinical development, Lisa began working towards the Royal College of Pathologists examinations and passed Part 1 and Part 2, becoming a Fellow of the College. Around this time, she was also successful in her application to become a CSO WISE Fellow. This programme gave Lisa some amazing opportunities to promote the role of women working in Healthcare Science, visiting schools and careers fairs, attending a leadership development course, and even being invited to 10 Downing St to celebrate 70 years of the NHS. She applied for a public engagement grant through the Royal College of Pathologists to establish a Virtual Reality engagement project to use in schools and inspire the next generation of Immunologists and Healthcare Scientists.

Lisa has always had an interest in the development of Immunology as a profession in Healthcare Science, and has been involved in the national recruitment, training and assessment of scientists through both the NSHCS and the AHCS. She has also been the co-chair of the Immunology Professional Committee and editor for the Immunology content of the Association of Clinical Biochemistry newsletter.

As a senior lecturer in Biomedical Science and a Clinical Academic in the NHS, Lisa has always been interested in training and education of Healthcare Scientists. Her role as HSST Training Programme Director includes supporting and advising HSST trainees and workplace supervisors, producing guidance and policies, strategic development of the programme and working with MAHSE on the academic aspects of HSST.