Richard Dyson, Laboratory Manager at Circular1 Health, never had any doubt that he would work in the sciences and is excited by the company’s potential to mitigate and prevent health crises in the future beyond COVID-19.
Q: What drove you to join Circular1 Health?
A: COVID will be with us for the foreseeable future, but it is companies like Circular1 Health that will be working with the Government and industries to keep businesses operational and maintain employee presence where it is needed. My motivation to join the business went beyond the immediate significance of the pandemic. In a world where COVID is less prevalent, C1H has the scientific expertise and forensic insight to allow us to live healthier and safer lives, lives that are less prone to illness and infection.
Q: Have you always had a fascination with the sciences?
A: Yes! While other kids were running around after a ball, I felt more comfortable spending my afternoons with the Discovery Channel. Frantically curious and constantly looking for answers to some of the biggest questions, my path was set out for me on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I sat in front of the television, engrossed by a documentary all about forensic science. From that point on I was hooked.”
Q: How did your career in forensics begin?
A: I studied first at the University of Lincoln and then set about gaining an MSc in DNA Profiling from the University of Central Lancashire. I spent the first eight years of my career working in both Government and private forensic laboratories doing DNA profiling. Working within the justice system, this work helped paint a picture to prosecutors, judges, and juries as they sought answers to some of the crimes committed on British soil.
Q: And then you switched to medicine?
A: I felt I had gone as far as I wanted in forensics and my attention switched to cancer diagnostics. I was again working in a laboratory, but now working in health, identifying the different form of cancer present in patients and enabling the doctors and oncologists to recommend treatments in as short a time as possible. The bigger picture has always inspired me. From supporting the justice system, to working in oncology, I have always based my work around giving back to society, doing something that makes a difference and improving the way we live our lives.
Q: Your latest challenge sounds no different?
A: It isn’t. The COVID-19 crisis has been totally inescapable and as soon as it hit, I wanted to use my skills and experience to support the fight against the virus. So, when the opportunity came along to get involved with the Lighthouse facility in Newport, the first specialist COVID-19 lab, I jumped at the chance.
Q: What are your responsibilities at Circular1 Health?
A: Since February 2021, I’ve been a Laboratory Manager for Circular1 Health, spending my first three months running a mobile lab to comply with lockdown restrictions. More recently I’ve taken charge of two teams, one based in Guildford, Surrey, and the other in Paddington. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are sent to us and analysed to identify the existence or non-existence of coronavirus within individuals. With so much at stake on a personal, national and global level, it is vital that we get the results right and that we do so quickly, so that people are able to isolate or carry on with their normal lives as fast as possible. To understand what we do in the labs, it is useful to think of a PCR as a photocopier, but one that only photocopies particular words. Let’s say that the word is parking, if the test is positive, then the printed paper would only have this word on it. While genetic testing is far more complex, we study the PCR tests in a similar way, looking for traces of the virus’ genetic material and basing our conclusions on this.
Q: How do you see your future panning out?
A: With the virus still having such an impact on the way we live our lives, and continuing to threaten the health of so many people, I see my immediate future within this field, doing my part in getting the country back to normal as fast as possible. It’s a chance to roll my sleeves up and throw myself into a cause and a company I believe in.