My PhD project…

Photo by Burst from Pexels

As you’ll find with a lot of research, certain projects can be confidential, particularly if it is novel or has a novel technique/model involved.  That’s the case with my project, I’m unable to discuss data and findings until it’s published so I’m going to give a general background of my PhD project. 

In my ‘About Me’ section, I mentioned that my PhD project is in the field of platelet biology in the context of cardiovascular disease. So what do I mean by that?

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

What are platelets?
Platelets are small enucleate cells in the blood. What I mean by anucleate is that these cells do not contain a nucleus, and the cells’ nucleus typically contains DNA and coordinates the activity of the cell.

Why am I interested in platelets?
Platelets are critical cells in the blood and are very important in haemostasis. Haemostasis is the body’s response to blood vessel injury and bleeding. We need platelets so we don’t “bleed out” as it were. When platelets recognise the site of injury (e.g. when you cut yourself) they become active. Upon activation, they aggregate (clump together) and along with blood clotting enzymes, form a meshwork that makes creates a blood clot to stop bleeding. 

To put into context, you know when you cut yourself and before the wound has closed, the blood feels “sticky” that’s due to the platelets clumping together along with the clotting factors. 

Overall platelets work well and stop us from bleeding when necessary but in certain situations, such as cardiovascular disease, platelets can become spontaneously active and cause havoc on the cardiovascular system leading to thrombotic events such as myocardial infarction (heart attacks), deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or stroke.

In circulation under normal conditions platelets are inactive. There are important inhibitory mechanisms in place that maintain platelets in resting-state while allowing platelets to still become active when appropriate. In the platelet biology field we tend to talk about this being a balance between activation and inhibition, this constant opposition allows for our platelets to work optimally.

That’s where my PhD project comes in, I’m researching the inhibitory mechanisms in platelets to understand specific platelet functions and the changes during and leading up to cardiovascular events. If you want to know ‘my why’ go check out my blog post Why I’m doing a PhD in Cardiovascular disease

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post about my PhD project. As much as I’d love to go into great depths I wanted to explain my project in a way for everyone to understand, us scientists can sometimes use too much jargon and certain aspects of my project are novel meaning that I am unable to disclose certain information until the data is published. 

Let me know about what science topics you’re interested in and if you’re doing a research project tell me about your project, I’d love to hear it. 

Thank you for reading.

Stay safe,

Beth x

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