Vital research by student from Mayfield school

Ellie Cox
Ellie Cox

A year 13 student from St Leonards-Mayfield School has been shortlisted for the National Science and Engineering Competition’s Young Scientist of the Year award, and is already making her mark on the world of medical research.

Ellie Cox, 17, recently completed a Nuffield Research Placement in which she worked on a study into breast cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research’s (ICR) Functional Genomics lab. Ellie was shortlisted for the National Science and Engineering Competition following her placement with The ICR, in which she helped the team’s ongoing project on functional characterisation, or seeing the effect on cell appearance and behaviour of mutations (changes to genes) in breast cancer.

The Competition finals take place from March 13-16 at The Big Bang: The UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair at The NEC, Birmingham. Ellie is preparing to showcase the scientific report of her ICR investigations to the event’s 60,000 visitors.

Ellie, who has been invited to meet her local MP, Charles Hendry as a result of her nomination, said: “The ICR project was incredibly useful, as I was able to experience a high level of practical science and learnt how to carry out many procedures that I had only read about in theory. I also developed numerical and data analyst skills relevant to my aim of becoming a doctor.”

The significance of Ellie’s work has not passed her by. She commented, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to take part in this vital research. It is incredible to think that the work I was helping with is so important, and will ultimately help to save lives.”

The cells which Ellie investigated will be grown for testing the effects of potential cancer drugs in The ICR’s laboratories. The findings of her research may also be used to identify important but infrequent mutations in breast cancer, which could help with the development of future treatments.

She is taking A levels in maths, chemistry, biology and physics and she is one of six girls from St Leonards-Mayfield to be offered places at Oxbridge this year.