A day within the life_ Valerie O’Donnell

A day within the life: Valerie O’Donnell

Professor Valerie O’Donnell is researching how blood clots kind in aneurysms – a situation generally referred to as a ‘silent killer’.



I first examine in with our facility supervisor who’s in command of our devices. Our lab focuses on how sure kinds of fatty molecules are concerned in blood clots forming.

Blood clots are made out of pink blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets which can be at all times in our blood, plus a net-like substance referred to as fibrin that types throughout clotting and holds all of it collectively. It’s fairly distinctive in our biology – a liquid changing into a stable in a brief area of time.

If we injure ourselves, a blood clot will cease the bleeding. However when blood clotting goes unsuitable it causes main issues. And there’s an elevated danger of blood clots in nearly all illnesses, from cardiovascular illnesses to most cancers, the flu and Covid-19.

We all know what’s in blood clots however we don’t absolutely perceive how they kind. Platelets and white blood cells assist sign to the blood to clot. We’re researching how sure fatty molecules may very well be concerned on this course of.


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We use a machine referred to as a mass spectrometer to measure the degrees of fatty molecules in our samples. A postgraduate scholar I’m supervising would possibly present me their mass spectrometry graphs, and we’ll spend time taking a look at them.

My workforce’s BHF-funded work is targeted on how blood clotting is concerned within the improvement and progress of belly aortic aneurysms. That is when a bulge types within the wall of the aorta, the primary blood vessel popping out of the guts. Signs aren’t at all times apparent and if the aneurysms bursts, the bleeding might be lethal. It’s generally referred to as a ‘silent killer’.

There are at present no particular drug therapies accessible. If the aneurysm grows too massive, surgical procedure could also be wanted however this additionally dangers inflicting heavy bleeding. To discover a drug remedy to cease the aneurysm getting so far, we have to perceive the biology of what’s taking place.

To do that, we’re analysing blood and tissue samples donated by round 90 individuals who had surgical procedure to restore their belly aortic aneurysm.


I’ve introduced collectively scientists who’re world leaders of their respective areas

We’re additionally collaborating with consultants on blood clotting from Cardiff and Aberdeen, a BHF-funded professor from the College of Cambridge who’s an professional on aneurysms; and a surgeon out of Oxford who supplied the tissue samples. I’ve introduced collectively scientists who’re world leaders of their respective areas.

After my final assembly, I cycle house; generally I get house first to set free the canine after which work for a pair hours.


Uncover extra behind-the-scenes tales of the analysis we fund.

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Revealed September 2023