Barbara Guinn

Thank you so much. I am delighted. This competition has been great fun, made possible by scientists, teachers and students who have all worked hard to make it possible. You've also made the Luton Science Fair better and I've grown a bit taller. Thank you so much!!

Favourite Thing: I love doing lab work. I like it when things work! Of course. I like doing an experiment I am familiar with and tweaking it to see if I can get nicer data. I work with T cells. They are part of our immune system and we want to see if we can remind them to kill cancer cells. We are using a DNA vaccine, which should be simple to make and cheap. And we’ll give it to patients when they are in remission, hopefully then all residual cancer cells will be killed and patients won’t relapse.



Cheadle Hulme High School from 1981-1988


University of Wales Aberyswyth, 1988-1991, BSc Genetics, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, 1991-1995 PhD Medicine

Work History:

University of Toronto, Canada, 1995-1999, King’s College London, 1999 – 2008, University of Southampton, 2007 – 2010


University of Bedfordshire, 2010 – Present

Current Job:

Senior lecturer in biochemistry and cell biology

Me and my work

I look for proteins which can remind the immune system (T cells) to kill cancer cells.

I wanted to do a job I could tell my Mum about. It’s tough to work on something your friends and family can’t understand and I have always loved medicine. So I decided to do a PhD in leukaemia research and although I still do some work with leukaemia, my work is also relevant to solid tumours.

My Typical Day

Answering e.mails, reading science articles, helping students, planning experiments and some lab work.

I usually start work around 8am. I like my job as I can chose what I do each day but of course the work needs to get done. I usually check e.mails on my laptop or on my iPhone in case anything needs to be dealt with urgently and then I have meetings with students (undergraduates, postgraduates) and my staff. I spend one day a week in Southampton and that’s the day I do research. We are growing cancer cells to see if we can get t cells to kill them. The lab work is varied and we use different techniques to look at how we can stimulate the T cells. 

What I'd do with the money

I’d use the money to pay for brochures to advertise Luton Science Fair which I’m organising for next March.

I am organising Luton Science Fair 2012 ( to coincide with National Science and Engineering Week ( and we will be encouraging anyone who wants to, to come along. It will be held on Saturday 10th March, 12-4pm, at the University of Bedfordshire Park Square campus. We have staff from many different parts of the University who will be demonstrating how science is used in their work. The Science department will have people from biomedical, medical, biological, environmental, forensic and nutritional science. We’ll have science and dance as well as science and the media presentations,  performing arts demonstrations and  midwifery presentations, computer science will be telling us about the science of secrecy, opportunities to meet a sport scientist, tours of the psychology, electron microscopy and University TV labs and a science magic show to name a few things to see and do. So I’d use the money to print brochures to send out to local schools and higher education institutes to advertise the event, and hopefully make it a success. 

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Enthusiastic, smiley, chatty

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Jessie J, Katie Perry, Eminem

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Went to No.10 Downing Street to celebrate the role of the labour government in improving cancer cure rates, and met Sarah Brown, Nicola Roberts and Denise van Outen

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Pay off my mortgage, take my children travelling, cure cancer

What did you want to be after you left school?

A geneticist

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

When I was 11 for talking in class. I was sent out of the room and was hugely embarassed!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Encouraged students to do what they want to do even if other people have discouraged them

Tell us a joke.