Staff Spotlight: Heather Murton

30th May 2019 | QuantuMDx Team

Heather Murton (centre) and QuantuMDx’s Clinical Assay Team
This month Heather Murton, Head of Clinical Assay, is  giving us the lowdown on her role.

When did you know you wanted to be a scientist and why?  

By the end of secondary school. I loved science lessons – especially biology – and I can still remember my first Genetics lesson. I was hooked from that point on!

What does your role involve?

I lead a team of scientists in the development of pathogen concentration technologies to make very sensitive diagnostic tests for infectious diseases, including tuberculosis.

What excites you the most about your role at QuantuMDx?

I love the multidisciplinary nature of my team, working with people with different specialties to solve technical problems.  The technology we are developing has huge potential to improve people’s lives, and that provides an exciting drive.

What are the biggest challenges working at QuantuMDx/working in this field?

Tuberculosis is a notoriously difficult disease to diagnose and treat and that’s why it still kills more people than any other infectious disease every year.  It provides challenges at every step of the process and we have to overcome each one to develop the level of technology that is needed to win the battle with this bacteria.

What’s been your career highlight so far?

Gaining my PhD was a milestone, but I think seeing our technology perform well when faced with real human samples has to be the highlight for me.

What are you looking forward to achieving with QuantuMDx over the coming year?

My team are very much looking forward to putting out technology in the hands of other scientists in South Africa and India where we can assess performance against current diagnostics on patient samples.

And what about over the coming years?

I really look forward to seeing the Q-POC™ and Capture-XT technologies being used in the field and making an impact in the lives of people with TB.

Although there are more women than ever before working in STEM industries, they are still in the minority. What advice would you give to young women and girls considering a career in science? 

Do what you love. You spend too much of your life at work not to enjoy it.  If you have a passion for STEM then it won’t be any harder than any other career and I’ve found it to be a very exciting and fun industry to be part of.

If there was one prolific scientist, historical or present, that you’d like to work with, who would it be and why?

Barbara McClintock, the Nobel Laureate who discovered ‘Jumping Genes’ studying patterns in maize.  Genetics is the ultimate puzzle and I would have loved to have been part of the fundamental discoveries that Prof. McClintock and her team made.  She was also one of a few women in a very male-dominated discipline at the time but was dedicated enough, and talented enough to make it to the top.

If you could have been the inventor of anything in the world, what would it be?

The microscope – it’s the key to another world.

As a scientist, what are your hopes for the future?

That we can continue to use science to improve life for those who still have a poor standard of health and education and that we can start to focus on looking after our world a little better.

What are your interests outside of work?

I love to travel and spend time at the beach with my dog – whatever the weather.

What are your favourite fiction and non-fiction books and why?

That’s an impossible question!  Probably River God by Wilbur Smith – it’s total escapism.  For non-fiction ‘All we did was fly to the moon’ by Dick Lattimer because the Mercury and Apollo space programmes were totally amazing and this is an excellent review of the time.

If you’re interested in joining Team QuantuMDx, we currently have career opportunities available.