Felixstowe student Alice Heeroma contributing to fight against deadly sepsis

Alice Heeroma at work in the chemistry lab at Bangor University. Picture: BANGOR UNIVERSITY

Alice Heeroma at work in the chemistry lab at Bangor University. Picture: BANGOR UNIVERSITY - Credit: BANGOR UNIVERSITY

A 23-year-old chemistry student from Felixstowe is hoping her research will help save lives from sepsis.

Alice Heeroma is working on a project at Bangor University in Wales that will contribute to the development of a rapid test for the condition.

Sepsis, sometimes referred to as blood poisoning, is a rare but serious complication of an infection that can lead to multiple organ failure and death if it is not treated quickly enough.

According to Bangor University, current tests can take within two-five days to confirm a diagnosis.

Former Felixstowe Academy pupil Ms Heeroma is studying for a doctorate in chemistry with Dr Gwenin and Dr Jones.

She is in her first year of her research, which is working towards the creation of a handheld rapid identification tool for sepsis.

Ms Heeroma said two practical projects that she carried out during her undergraduate studies had provided her with valuable experience to take on this research.

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They saw her create organic microstructures that can be used in drug delivery, and contribute to work to develop peptoids to be used to prevent premature births.

“The practical projects we carried out at Bangor University have put me in a good position to begin my PhD research straight away,” she said.

“Had I followed an undergraduate degree which didn’t offer a practical project, I’d now be spending time learning lab techniques at the beginning of my research PhD.

“These are also skills that I have acquired are also the transferrable skills that employers are looking for if you want a career in a lab.”

She added: “I’m really hoping that my work will make a difference, by contributing to the development of a handheld rapid identification tool for sepsis.”

Ms Heeroma’s PhD is sponsored by the Celtic Advanced Life Science Innovation Network, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

University College Cork is also working on the project with north Wales company, SOPHIMARK.

The project has developed out of previous work between SOPHIMARK and Bangor University.