A 17-year-old from St Leonards-Mayfield School in East Sussex has been shortlisted for the National Science and Engineering Competition’s Young Scientist of the Year award, and is already making her mark on the world of medical research. Ellie Cox recently completed a Nuffield Research Placement in which she worked on a study into breast cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research’s (ICR) Functional Genomics lab.
Ellie, who has been offered a place to study medicine at Cambridge University, was shortlisted for the National Science and Engineering Competition following her placement with the ICR, in which she helped the team’s ongoing project on functional characterisation, or seeing the effect on cell appearance and behaviour of mutations (changes to genes) in breast cancer.
The National Science and Engineering Competition finals will take place from the 13th to 16th March at The Big Bang: The UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair at The NEC, Birmingham. Ellie is preparing to showcase the scientific report of her ICR investigations to the event’s 60,000 visitors.
Ellie, who has been invited to meet her local MP, Charles Hendry, as a result of her nomination said: “The ICR project was incredibly useful, as I was able to experience a high level of practical science and learnt how to carry out many procedures that I had only read about in theory. I also developed numerical and data analyst skills relevant to my aim of becoming a doctor.”
The significance of Ellie’s work has not passed her by. She commented: “I am so grateful for the opportunity to take part in this vital research. It is incredible to think that the work I was helping with is so important, and will ultimately help to save lives.”
The cells which Ellie investigated during her placement will be grown for testing the effects of potential cancer drugs in the ICR’s laboratories. The findings of her research may also be used to identify important but infrequent mutations in breast cancer, which could help with the development of future treatments.
Ellie is taking A levels in mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics and has been offered a place to study Medicine at Emmanuel College, Cambridge from September 2014. She is one of six girls from the all-girls Catholic school to be offered places at Oxbridge this year.