Dr Jennifer Wymant

Dr Jennifer Wymant

Post Doctoral Research Associate

School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

I am a Postdoctoctoral Researcher with Prof Arwyn Jones Group, and funded by Cancer Research Wales

Research Interests

  • Cellular and Molecular biology / oncology
  • Breast Cancer Biology
  • Membrane trafficking and cell signalling
Biography


I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Portsmouth, achieving a first- class honours degree in Biomedical Science, and carried out my final year research project with Prof. Geoffrey Pilkington in the Cellular and Molecular Neuro-oncology laboratories.

I was then awarded a 4-year PhD scholarship in Cancer Studies at Cardiff University, funded by Cancer Research UK. The course involved a one year training (including two project rotations) and was followed by design and defence of a grant proposal for research to be carried out over remaining three years. I completed my PhD in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, supervised by Prof. Arwyn Jones, Dr. Steve Hiscox and Dr. Andrew Westwell. The title of the research project was “The role of BCA2 in receptor tyrosine kinase endocytosis and breast cancer.


The main techniques used in my work were: Cell culture, Western blotting, immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy, use of Image J software, protein depletion by siRNA, use of endocytic probes and inhibitors, transient and stable transfection, bacterial transformation and culture, plasmid purification, agarose gel electrophoresis, subcloning, restriction digest, bioinformatics (Affymetrix data analysis) and DNA sequencing.

I am continuing to work in Prof Jones' laboratory on a Cancer Research Wales funded postdoctoral research project. The project is based on the recent work of Dr. Paul Moody which explored the effects of inducing receptor clustering on the internalisation and trafficking of receptors. The ultimate aim of my work is to demonstrate that the efficacy of trastuzumab (Herceptin) can be improved through modifications that enhance endocytic degradation of this therapeutic antibody and its target receptor HER2.

I am also a contributor to the royalty-free, charitable photo bank, Photofoundation.

Prizes and awards

  • 2013 EACR-23 meeting bursary
  • 2013 Cardiff School of Pharmacy Postgraduate Research Day Poster Prize 2010 Cancer Research UK 4th year studentship
Conferences
  • Cancer Research Wales 50th Anniversary Symposium
  • 23rd Biennial Congress of the European Association for Cancer Research. [Poster 479]
  • 75th Harden Conference - Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Structure and Function in Mammalian Health and Disease [poster presentation] Publications Pereira, P., Pedrosa, S.S, Wymant, J.M., Sayers, E., Correia, A., Vilanova, M., Jones, A.T. and Gama, F.M. 2015. siRNA inhibition of endocytic pathways to characterize the cellular uptake mechanisms of folic acid functionalized glycol chitosan nanogels. Molecular Pharmaceutics 12(6), p. 1970-9.

Public engagement with science

I am passionate about public engagement with scient, a STEM ambassador and member of the Cardiff University Research Engagement Working Group I have experience in creating and delivering successful cancer research engagmeent activities, some of which are below:

2015 Biology Rocks

Biology rocked at National Museum Cardiff on Saturday 11th October, when over 3000 visitors joined scientists from Amgueddfa Cymru, Cardiff University and the Society of Biology to celebrate National Biology Week and Earth Science Week. Dr Jen Wymant and Dr Edd Sayers engaged showing how to "hit" cancer cells with a targeted therapy game where there's an outline of a patient in cups and the visitors try and throw balls into the coloured cups which denote "cancer" and try to avoid the clear cups which are the normal/healthy parts of the body. The visitors are then given tongs to put the balls in which is much easier and demonstrates how research aims to develop tools to help medicines specifically target cancer cells.

2013 onwards: The Pink Spanner

I created the Pink Spanner with funding and support from CRUK as a way to engage the public with cancer research (see figure 1) it’s designed to explain how mutations in DNA lead to changes in protein shape and potentially lead to cancer and also covers some key concepts of biology and oncology:

  • That cancer is a disease of cells where the normal balance of cell growth and survival is disrupted due to mutations
  • The idea that a gene is an instruction to make a particular protein and that proteins are like tools:  Their shape is important for their function
  • The different causes and types of DNA mutation
  • How DNA mutations are like spelling mistakes that can affect the shape and function of the protein produced
  • How DNA mutations can increase cancer risk

One advantage of the Pink Spanner activity is flexibility, it adapts to suit a wide range of audiences, and has run at a variety of different events including:

  • Biology Rocks, National Museum of Wales
  • CRUK, Back to the Future, Sea City museum
  • Beating Cancer Sooner, Darwin Centre

The Pink Spanner has also incorporated into National Science Week at Cardiff University.  Response to activity is positive, one visitor said “it’s such a simple way of explaining it, you can picture what’s going on.”

I am currently working with Alexa Bishop, the CRUK Research Engagement Manager for Wales and South West to develop an activity pack for the pink spanner for use by other researchers across the UK at outreach and fundraising events.

2011-2015: Public Engagement at Techniquest

I have been involved in many engagement events at the Techniquest Science Discovery Centre in Cardiff Bay.  The activities range from making “neurons” from pipe-cleaners and “cells” from modelling clay, to performing microscopy on visitors’ own cheek cells.  For CRUK at these events she had delivered activities that use microscopy to show the differences between normal and cancerous tissue plus a game that explains the concepts of targeted therapy and personalised medicine.

2011-2012: Public Engagement at The Green Man Festival

With supervisor Arwyn Jones, and fellow lab members, I was involved in a tissue engineering engagement project that ran for two years at The Green Man festival.  The team collaborated with Angel Exit Theatre to develop and deliver activities under the title “The Roaming Scar Collectors” which explained some concepts of wound healing by recreating injuries using stage-make up, through dramatisation of the cellular process of wound healing and by racing maggots!  The Scar Collectors were a great success and mentioned on the New Scientist Culture Lab Blog.

The cabinet of curiosities

The following year the team returned to Green Man and ran an activity they had developed called “The Cabinet of Curiosities”.  This activity involved inviting visitors to explore a collection of assembled medical items used in the treatment of  wounds.  The collection included: styptic pencils, vials of liquids that were used in failed transfusion attempts (beer, milk and “urine”), an artery clamp, a stem cell model, and an Egyptian dressing made from papyrus and honey.   The significance of each item was explained to the visitors as they explored the collection they were able to ask questions about historical, current and future treatments.

The Cabinet of Curiosities was well received, with some visitors returning on successive days to further discuss science and research.

I am continuing to work in Prof Jones' laboratory on a Cancer Research Wales funded postdoctoral research project. The project is based on the recent work of Dr. Paul Moody which explored the effects of inducing receptor clustering on the internalisation and trafficking of receptors. The ultimate aim of my work is to demonstrate that the efficacy of trastuzumab (Herceptin) can be improved through modifications that enhance endocytic degradation of this therapeutic antibody and its target receptor HER2.

I am also a contributor to the royalty-free, charitable photo bank, Photofoundation.

External profiles

Images