Dr Nathalie Kingston
Name: Dr Nathalie Kingston
Job title: Director, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) BioResource for Translational Research
How long have you been in this role: 7 years
Location: Cambridge Biomedical Campus
I am the Director of the NIHR BioResource for Translational Research, based at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. The NIHR BioResource is a panel of thousands of volunteers with or without health conditions who have consented to be approached to participate in health research.
Women in science
Women are doing a great job in closing the gap and making scientific contributions, it is really important we keep the momentum. We need more women to work in the (biological) science sector and I think there needs to be more encouragement. There are so many talented women, we need to support and push women forward and grow their confidence – women are just as capable, just as smart and can drive ideas to benefit the science community.
I have always been interested in biology, I have a research background in auto-immune and infectious diseases. When the NIHR BioResource was in its early stages, it was an exciting opportunity to join and lead the team because I could see the benefits it would provide for healthcare. I’m passionate about making a difference to people’s lives, and leading an organisation that is the starting point to help make ground-breaking discoveries is such an exhilarating place to be.
My advice is you should seize every opportunity, do what makes you happy regardless of gender, stand up and say ‘yes, I can do this.’
Working in health research
My role is varied and each day is different. I lead a large workforce of study coordinators, IT, clinical and administrative staff. I meet with academics, researchers, clinicians and representatives from industry on a regular basis who want to use the NIHR BioResource for health research.
I also work with key stakeholders including the government, NIHR, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and charities who want to engage with research. Over my seven years, I have seen the NIHR BioResource grow, with new Biomedical Research Centres becoming local BioResource centres and many new NHS hospitals recruiting patients to the NIHR BioResource. The NIHR BioResource has now over 150,000 volunteers on its panel and we have facilitated many research studies on health research and experimental medicine. I am always working on future plans.
In the last few years we’ve branched out to ‘themed’ NIHR BioResources. We already have a well-established Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) BioResource and a Mental Health BioResource for depression and anxiety. We also run a large programme on Rare Diseases conditions. We are about to launch several other national initiatives, including another Mental Health strand that will focus on eating disorders.
The future looks positive and exciting, and the next few years are going to be busy. We will be developing other new national initiatives, including a Children BioResource, which will be providing an opportunity for young people to get involved in research.
I am working closely with the NHSBT to develop opportunities to engage with blood donors to provide another blood sample for research. This is an exciting project as we have the potential to offer thousands of more people a chance to take part in research.
Improving the future of healthcare
Research is so important to help us understand diseases and finding new treatments. Research is not just about drug discovery, we run plenty of studies that involve donating a blood sample, completing an online questionnaire or just giving height and weight measurements. Participation from volunteers is key.
In order to make significant progress in new treatments we need everyone’s help to get involved in research otherwise nothing will change. That’s why it’s such a fantastic time to be involved in science and encourage more people to get involved and make those important contributions. We need more people to come forward who want to make a difference. There are so many opportunities, especially healthcare. You just need the confidence to do it, you never know what may happen!