(Pictured: Dr Beth Ollington)
February 11 marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and what better way to celebrate it than by getting to know our brilliant women in STEM at Anthony Nolan.
Within our laboratories and research facilities at Anthony Nolan we are privileged to have a wealth of women in STEM who have expert knowledge, with a wide range of careers, backgrounds, and experiences.
Our scientists have all entered their scientific careers in a manner of different routes. We caught up with Abbie Longney, Cell Therapy Centre Distribution Coordinator. As Distribution Coordinator Abbie is responsible for the shipment of all the cryopreserved cord blood units and adult donor material that leaves the Cell Therapy Centre for transplant or research all over the world. Abbie’s interest in science started at university where she studied Environmental Science – but it was graduating amid the Covid-19 pandemic that spiked her interest in the biological sciences. Her scientific career began by processing Covid-19 virology samples for NHS staff, and once this was no longer required she moved into haematology. Abbie continued her career in the NHS, providing a quality control microbiology service for clients, including Anthony Nolan. Inspired after hearing Shirley Nolan’s story, Abbie applied for an opening at the Cell Therapy Centre, leading her to where she is today.
Abbie says that growing up she never knew any women in science, nor was she ever encouraged to be part of it. She is grateful to be surrounded by many successful and admirable women at Anthony Nolan, who play a key role within science and actively fight to encourage female representation and inclusion across STEM industries.
Abbie’s vital work includes shipment of all our lifesaving cord blood units, find out more about the material held at The Cell Therapy Centre.
The Cell Therapy Centre is also home to our Cord Blood Bank. We spoke to Dr Beth Ollington, Cell Therapy Process Development Scientist. Beth’s interest in science began at primary school, with lunchtimes spent helping teachers set up experiments. Her love for science developed into a research career beginning with an MSci degree in biological chemistry and drug discovery, with a focus on how new drugs and pharmaceuticals are developed in industry. Beth then followed this with a 4-year PhD in immunology before working within ophthalmology testing gene therapies. This then led her to her current role at the Anthony Nolan Cell Therapy Centre.
When speaking about women in science who have inspired her Beth said,
I have been very fortunate to have had two female supervisors during my career, and both were incredible mentors. I am so grateful to have worked with them as they have set the bar for who I want to be as a scientist and leader.Dr Beth Ollington
As pioneers in the scientific community, at Anthony Nolan we are continuously undertaking new research. We spoke with Charlotte Cambridge, Research Assistant at the Anthony Nolan Research Institute. Charlotte switched from English to Biology at university after deciding this was the subject for her! During her degree, Charlotte completed a placement at Anthony Nolan, helping to run the Patient/Donor Project in the immunogenetics team.
After her degree, Charlotte managed to rejoin the immunogenetics team as a Research Assistant, still working in the Patient/Donor Project and using genetic sequencing to investigate factors involved in stem cell transplant outcomes. Charlotte says she’s noticed an improvement in the representation of women at conferences, with a broader diversity of speakers: “I recently attended a conference which had a session discussing the challenges women in STEM may face. It prompted some interesting conversation and it’s positive to see the topic on the agenda, but I think there’s still more work to be done.”
As for the working environment at Anthony Nolan, Charlotte says:
I think we have a good number of women in leadership roles within our Research department who act as positive role models and mentors for other women in Anthony Nolan.Charlotte Cambridge
Anthony Nolan has published more than 700 papers in some of the most prestigious scientific and clinical journals in the world.
Thank you to all the women throughout Anthony Nolan who help save lives every day and continue to make pioneering scientific discoveries.
We hope the future of science continues to open more opportunities for women and recognise their achievements 365 days a year.