Inside the lab with CF researcher Nicole

Feature -

Every month we’ll be going inside the lab to chat to some of the amazing researchers working in cystic fibrosis. Today let us introduce Nicole. Nicole’s research is funded through our SRC research programme on CF diabetes (CFD), which is one of the most common complications of CF.   

NicoleHi Nicole! Can you tell us more about your research into CF diabetes? 

I am a researcher investigating the development of diabetes in people with CF. I am using fixed pancreas tissue and specific proteins to highlight features of the tissue that are of interest. I am specifically interested in little cell groups in the pancreas, which are called islets of Langerhans, and their immediate surroundings. Islets are important as they are responsible for secreting hormones which help with blood sugar regulation. If this is not working properly, the sugar levels in the blood are higher than usual which can lead to diabetes. 

In people with CF, the pancreas looks very different; there can be a lot of scarring and fat replacement is taking place. In our SRC, we are investigating how this is possibly impacting on the function of islets. 

How could your work help people with CF? 

We are hoping to gain more insight into the changes happening within the pancreas during the life of people with CF. For example, how this is impacting on the cells important for blood sugar regulation. Our aim is to improve treatment for people with CF to ease or prevent the development of diabetes. 

I love being in the laboratory and finding out how things might work in the pancreas with my experiments; knowing my results can potentially help people in the future

Nicole, CF researcher

What do you love most about what you do? 

I love being in the laboratory and finding out how things might work in the pancreas with my experiments; knowing my results can potentially help people in the future. One method I use a lot is called staining. For this I use specially labelled proteins to highlight specific structures in the organ and if it works, I have very pretty images for analysis. I love that I can work in a great and supportive team at the University and in the SRC funded by the Trust. I also love that my work is very varied and that I am continuously learning more about science, scientific methods, or my own development. 

How has the Trust supported your career? 

The Trust funded the SRC which I am currently working on. It is providing me with a lot of different opportunities, such as collaborating with different research groups, performing very interesting research, and attending international conferences to present and discuss results. 

What have been your biggest successes in your career, and what are the challenges? 

I achieved my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees which I am especially proud of. I have also achieved my PhD after moving to the UK from Germany to study. This allowed me to improve my English language skills at the same time. Working in the lab can be difficult at times, when experiments do not work and you have to investigate what went wrong. 

Who is your biggest inspiration? 

I don’t have one specific person, but I let myself be inspired by a lot of people around me from family, friends and colleagues. This also includes a lot of inspiring, kind, intelligent, hard-working women who I am lucky to have in my life. 

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, Nicole! 

Research projects like this are only possible with your support. Donate today, and you could help us to make sure everyone with CF can live a life unlimited.  

Donate today

Find out more about how our research is making a difference in our latest Research Impact Report.  

Download report


Our newsletter

Get the latest on what the Trust and our supporters are doing straight to your inbox. 

Your donation will make a difference:

Select amount
Select amount