By day, Mandy Campbell is a scientist. She’s a biomedical scientist in fact, who helps diagnose and find cures for diseases.
But by night, she’s a biker chick.
Her college in the United Kingdom, the University of the West of England, trained healthcare laboratory specialists. She focused on hematology and hemostasis, both the study of blood, becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences following a two-year fellowship.
Campbell worked in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) public hospital laboratories for 17 years as a biomedical scientist. Most biomedical scientists are laboratory-based. They use the latest technology to investigate and diagnose illnesses such as HIV, cancer, diabetes, food poisoning, hepatitis and meningitis.
Why choose hematology?
“It’s quite broad,” she said. “It’s cellular, and not really an exact science. You’re making a decision of whether or not something is abnormal. It takes skill, rather than putting something into a machine, which spits out the results. So it takes judgement.”
Under the UK’s public healthcare system, about 90 percent of hospitals and healthcare facilities are NHS facilities.
“These days, the entry into the profession in the UK is possibly more academically rigorous, but it does have its downsides,” she said. “Students in university are geared towards continuing academia ,so the health services sometimes struggle to recruit. And students who do go into hospital laboratories tend to start with fairly poor technical and practical ability. You can’t afford to fail your experiment in healthcare like you could at college, though.”
When she left lab work, Campbell had a variety of jobs in sales, as a technical manager and product manager. She trained biomedical equipment customers, demonstrated systems and worked on product development.
Campbell joined HORIBA in 2002 and rose to sales and marketing manager for medical equipment in the UK. To assist in her career, she also earned a Marketing Diploma at Cambridge Professional College in 2015.
HORIBA’s medical division designs, develops and distributes in vitro diagnostic systems mostly destined for biological analysis in medical laboratories.
“I guess the interesting aspect of my career path is that it is about practical technology, rather than academia, and brings science close to healthcare and the patient,” she said.
Campbell mainly works with blood count analyzers performing CBCs - complete blood count tests - that evaluates a patient’s overall health and a wide range of disorders.
“You’re looking at several different parameters at the same time,” she said. “We use spectrometry, flow cytometry, fluorescence and light scatter analysis. It’s a lot of mixed technology.”
The analyzers take a blood sample, split it into smaller aliquots and send it to different chambers inside, which all produce measurements simultaneously and combine to produce the final result. A hospital lab might do 1,000 to 2,000 samples a day, and HORIBA also has autoloading and mixing systems to speed things up.
“The equipment we manufacture needs to work efficiently and rapidly. We also have single analyzers that look at one sample at a time and are used in places like in an oncology clinic.”
When she’s not commuting to her job in Northampton, about 60 miles north of London, Campbell turns to her other passion – motorcycles.
“I guess I could blame my brother. We used them for economy back in the days. And I really loved it.”
Now Campbell, a parent who commutes to work in a car, spends her Sunday riding a Triumph Bonneville that she’s owned since 2004. She even does her own maintenance on the bike.
“I don’t ride out of necessity,” she said. “It’s open and feels great on the road. It’s the freedom and camaraderie. And it makes you feel cooler than you actually are.”
So why did Campbell choose science as a career?
“It’s about making a difference with the science,” she said. “When you work in a laboratory in an acute hospital, it’s about not only producing results, but producing results that help someone’s treatment or diagnosis. For instance, you might be able to identify someone with a rare form of leukemia quickly. You’re having an impact on healthcare. And I do like science. I’m quite a techy person and like to make a difference in a person’s life.”
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