Gráinne Holland

Job title/role in FutureNeuro

Research Assistant

Tell us a little about your background and what led you to a career in FutureNeuro?

I completed my BSc. in the University of Galway, majoring in pharmacology. I decided to complete a masters in Drug Discovery and Translational Biology in the University of Edinburgh as I wanted both computational and wet lab experience. I really enjoyed my time in the lab during my research project with Dr. Marcus Wilson and knew I wanted to stay in research. I decided to apply for a job at FutureNeuro as I have always been interested in neurological disorders such as Epilepsy. This gave me the opportunity to work both in vitro and in vivo in a leading University.

What does a typical day look like for you? 

I cycle into RSCI just before 9, make sure there is no outstanding emails and chat to my supervisor, Omar, about what we need to do for the day. I will most likely spend the day in the MRTF or York House carrying out experiments. I take a break around 1pm and catch up with everyone, then home by 6 most days.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

I care a lot about my project as my work may have an impact on patients living with CDD (CDKL5 deficiency disorder) which is a severely debilitating neurological disorder. Therefore, I find it challenging to not bring the work home with me.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

During my time in the Wilson lab, I addressed a methodological void in epigenetic studies and developed a novel technique of forming high-quality asymmetric nucleosomes. I overcame many unpredicted difficulties by communicating with those around me and being inventive. In the end I was quite proud with the product. Although I only joined FutureNeuro in January, I am sure there will be many highlights to come!

Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to pursue your career?

It was my lecturer in the University of Galway, Dr. Eilís Dowd, who is involved in Parkinson’s disease research, who reinforced my passion for neurological disease research. However, Dr. Marcus Wilson inspired me to stay in research as I saw how he fostered an encouraging and enthusiastic environment, similar to what I have now experienced under Dr. Omar Mamad here at FutureNeuro, RCSI.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about pursuing a career in STEM?

Working in science is often thought as an independent, possibly somewhat lonely job. However, I was surprised to learn how important communication is in working in a lab. I feel those who are passionate about their research-which is especially true in FutureNeuro- love to talk about what they’re doing and are always happy to help. For myself, no day is the exact same, I am always learning something and that is one of the main reasons I love this job.

What impact do you hope your role in FutureNeuro will have over the next five years?

I hope to help those with CDD and make a positive impact on the scientific community. My goal is to possibly start a PhD in FutureNeuro in the future.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I am the youngest out of 4 children- I’ve been told I don’t come across as the youngest!

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to play cello, video games and go out running/walking. I also enjoy meeting up with friends.

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