Helping to guide future generations of scientists
Colleague Spotlight | Alex Liversidge
I am a lecturer in biomedical sciences (School of Health) and an advanced biomedical scientist in a local NHS Trust. I started my career in a pharmaceutical company, but I now have 20 years’ experience of working in hospital laboratories. I have worked in routine haematology and coagulation, having specialised more recently in blood transfusion.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what led you to working within the School of Health
In my NHS career I have always enjoyed training and in 2017 I became the Training Manager for a blood transfusion department. I help new members of staff at the start of their careers and those with more experience develop into specialist and advanced biomedical scientists. When I applied to work at Leeds Beckett University in 2018 as a lecturer, I saw this as an opportunity to help guide future generations of scientists and equip them with the skills and knowledge they would need to work in this environment.
What makes you passionate around your work around biomedical science and why is it important?
I love being a scientist! To be part of a team within pathology testing patient samples is exciting – you never know what you will discover, which disease you will diagnose or what urgent transfusion situation may occur. Biomedical scientists are critical to the NHS by providing the results that clinicians rely upon to diagnose disease, monitor patients and provide the treatment that patients require. Over 70% of clinical diagnoses are made by pathology services.
By bringing my experience from the hospital to the university lectures and lab practicals, I make learning relevant and interesting. In fact, I use the same techniques and technology in the transfusion science practicals as the local hospital labs do. I am always happy to provide career advice too, as I have first-hand knowledge of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) requirements and Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) qualifications required to make the step from graduate to registered biomedical scientist.
How is collaboration integral to your work, and what are one or two collaborations that have been most meaningful to you?
I know how difficult it is for NHS labs to recruit trained and experienced staff so, in collaboration with the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, I am leading the development of an IBMS-accredited applied route at Leeds Beckett University. This will allow students to apply for a placement within an NHS pathology lab to gain valuable, complex technical skills and experience whilst completing the IBMS Registration Portfolio. Not only will this allow graduates to apply for qualified biomedical scientist roles without the need for further training, it will assist NHS workforce planning.
I am myself also studying in collaboration with the LBU School of Social Sciences as I am doing a PhD on transgender healthcare. I have become aware, through my NHS role, that many of our clinical guidelines are binary and so I am looking for ways to improve healthcare disparities in this protected group. This helps with my lecturing role as I try to ensure my lectures are inclusive.
What achievements in this area have you been most proud of while working in the School of Health?
I have completed many talks about transgender healthcare to transfusion professionals across the country, sparking debate and increasing awareness. I’m afraid I have raised more questions than provided any answers – for the moment! But I feel that this is an important step in the right direction. I’m hoping my research will help guide policy and protect the safety of this group of patients.
My proudest moments so far at LBU have been the feedback I have received from the students. They have said how much they have enjoyed my lectures, that they found them interesting, and some have even made career plans and got jobs in haematology. This is great to hear!
Alex is an advanced Biomedical Scientist within the Blood Transfusion department at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Lecturer in Biomedical Science at Leeds Beckett University.