Bear on Tour (Dr Hannah Nieto)

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Our next researcher in the #BearonTour series is Hannah Nieto, Academic Clinical Lecturer in the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research (IMSR).

Hannah works in the field of thyroid molecular genomics, and has an interest in thyroid cancer and bioinformatics. You can find links to Hannah’s research publications via the Research portal.

Bear checking out the fume cupboard
Bear checking out the fume cupboard

Q1 – Tell me about your research
My research is in the molecular genomics of thyroid cancer, which complements my clinical work in ENT/H&N & thyroid surgery at the QE hospital. The diagnosis of thyroid cancer is currently dependent on a combination of clinical review, assessment with ultrasonography and fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAc). A significant proportion of thyroid lesions are not classified accurately in terms of likelihood of cancer after these tests, and so patients are advised to have a hemithyroidectomy (surgery to remove half the thyroid) to make this diagnosis. It is not currently possible to DNA sequence FNAc material quickly as samples have to be sent away to specialised sequencing facilities. However, a new technology could now revolutionise thyroid cancer treatment in the UK. My main research project appraises the possibility of using nanopore sequencers to differentiate benign from malignant lesions. Successful progress may facilitate the accurate diagnosis of thyroid cancer from FNA samples, and potentially obviate unnecessary surgery and repeated hospital trips for patients.

Q2 – How do you use BEAR services?
We currently use BEAR storage facilities, mounting our sequencer directly onto the RDS to store its output there and are looking to using its compute nodes soon for higher throughput sequencing (as we have done in the past with whole genome sequencing work).

Q3 – What is the best thing about BEAR (apart from me)
The best thing thing about BEAR is having access to a supercomputer (HPC) but the most convenient thing about BEAR is the easy access shared high volume data facilities. The team working at BEAR are also fantastic and their support with projects is invaluable!

Bear meeting the MinION nanopore DNA sequencer
Bear meeting the MinION nanopore DNA sequencer

Thanks to Hannah for a really interesting tour of her lab facilities.

Look out for our next researcher soon!