Former John Colet student leading the way in scientific research

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A CHEMISTRY student has presented ground-breaking research to a panel of experts in a national competition at the House of Commons.

Danielle Miles, 26, of Wendover and a former pupil at the John Colet school, gave a lecture on a new protein gel she has created which could put an end to the back pain experienced by disc degeneration, often caused by age.

“The discs in the back are like doughnuts,” said the PhD student, studying at Leeds University.

“They’re made out of a kind of jelly which dries out as you get older. This gel replaces that jelly, stopping the vertebrae rubbing together which is what can lead to trapped nerves, and is what causes the pain.”

Danielle was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament on Monday.

“The competition details were put out across the university, so I just applied,” she added.

“I was surprised to find out I’d been shortlisted though!

“I’m very pleased because literally anyone in the country can apply – not just PhD students, but early stage lecturers too who obviously have a lot more experience.

“I am very passionate about my project and I am lucky to be involved in something that has the potential to benefit many people.

“It’s important to communicate current and interesting research with as wide an audience as possible.”

While Danielle did not win the competition, she has said that sharing her research was a valuable experience.

“I had a really good day. I got a ridiculous amount of interest in the research. Lots of people seemed to be very interested and kept me talking.

“Even though I didn’t win, it’s vital to get my research out there – it means that when I publish my papers, people are more likely to read them.

“I also received a lot of positive responses from MPs.”

Danielle has thanked her school, John Colet, for providing her with the vital education to get her to where she is now.

“While I think the 12-plus system works for some, the John Colet was fantastic,” she added.

“I believe if you are driven and enthusiastic you can achieve anything. And my teachers were so supportive.”