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PhD student: Joanne Swidenbank

As a nurse, there are many ways to help people. For me, it is my genomics PhD

"When I worked as a haemophilia research nurse, I had a defining conversation with one of my patients. They were trialling a new treatment for the genetic disorder, which had dramatically reduced the number of infusions they needed from daily, or even more frequently during a bleed, to once a week. They said they almost felt cured! In this moment, I saw the impact of these cutting-edge treatments on people’s health and quality of life, and it made me passionate about working in the field of genetics and genomics where I could make a real difference to so many.

"My PhD is looking at the best ways to teach genomics and genetics to healthcare professions in Wales. When the Genomics for Precision Medicine Strategy was launched by Welsh Government in 2017, it set out a bold and forward-looking plan to bring genomic medicine to the people of Wales. 

"Technology and medical scientific advances in the area of genetics and genomics are moving forward at a rapid pace, and healthcare professionals need to be given up-to-date education on genetics and genomics relevant to their area of practice. This could be targeted therapies (also known as pharmacogenomics) for cancer patients; diagnostic tests for rare diseases or even the development of new antibiotic therapies to target antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

"I’m enjoying my PhD very much. The subject area is fascinating and it’s encouraging to know that so many people stand to benefit from this research. Although my PhD is looking at healthcare professional education, it is patients and the public who will directly benefit from these new diagnostics and therapies.

"USW has a very supportive and friendly culture amongst both staff and students, which has made the transition from full-time work to full-time student much easier! I love the postgraduate research community within the Faculty of Life Sciences and Education. We have a dedicated office with excellent creature comforts (which are essential for long days of studying!) and the other postgraduate research students are a wonderful source of advice and support. I also love the location of the university. It has some beautiful views down the valleys and is a very easy commute for me coming from the west.

"I’m very open and flexible about where this PhD may take me. Ideally, I would like to teach undergraduate nurses as well as continue my research career in academia. However, I would also love to work in Welsh Government on health policy, or even in the third sector in a research capacity. The great thing about a PhD is that it builds invaluable skills and is a significant piece of professional development which lends itself to all sorts of roles and job sectors. The world really is your oyster! "

KESS PhD student Jo Swidenbank - Care Sciences

Joanne's PhD is fully funded by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2). See the latest KESS2 scholarships here.

Upper Glyntaff

Joanne studies on the Glyntaff Campus