Can bacteria and blood cells be classed as art?

Published: Monday 6th November 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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The new exhibition at St. Stephen’s Shopping Centre certainly thinks so.

Pathology Through The Looking Glass is a curation of beautifully enlarged images of some of the cells and microorganisms we may find inside our bodies.

The intriguing exhibition has been organised by the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s Pathology team to generate more awareness around their discipline and encourage people to enter the profession.

We spoke with Dr. Andrew Botham, Blood Sciences Laboratory Manager, to find out why they believe human blood is art.

Firstly, can you tell us a little bit more about this fascinating display?

Of course. So, Pathology Through The Looking Glass coincides with National Pathology Week, which runs from Monday 6 until Sunday 12 November.

We wanted to focus on art in science because science isn’t traditionally looked at as artistic or beautiful. But we look down microscopes on a daily basis and get to see a number of really stunning images. We use them, of course, to diagnose patients, but there really is a sort of artistry to them, so we wanted to showcase this.

We’ve created giant eye-catching images of tumour sections and cells fluorescing under microscopes. We also have a film of blood, which we usually use to diagnose leukaemia.

What inspired you to come up with the idea?

Not many people know an awful lot about pathology. Many will immediately think of CSI. And whilst that is certainly part of it, there is also a lot of hospital pathology that goes on.

Our Trust has around 300 pathology employees. In my branch, Blood Sciences, there are about 165 of us and we serve around 700,000 in Hull and the surrounding areas. This is roughly 10% of the UK population.

A biomedical scientist has the ability to influence more peoples’ lives in one week of doing their job than a doctor can during their whole career. So it’s a really interesting department to be a part of. About 70% of clinical decisions are made on blood results.

And, of course, this information is not widely known?

No, it isn’t. We try and do educational events for people, like this exhibition. We also run school events and run lab tours for schools, members of the public and those who are already in the medical profession.

Many people think that working in healthcare means becoming a doctor or a nurse, but the reality is that there are so many other jobs out there.

How can people find out more about this career path?

I would encourage anyone who is interested to give us a ring, they can come in, have a look around the lab and talk about their options. Also, pop down to the exhibition; staff from Hull Royal Infirmary will be on hand to answer any questions you might have.

It’s fantastic that they have just begun Healthcare Science apprenticeships. Traditionally, you would need to complete a Biomedical degree to do this job, but now we can take people with pretty much any qualification and train them up to become a state-registered Biomedical Scientist within four or five years.

However, if a degree is something you’re interested in, the University of Hull offers a fantastic course.

Doing Healthcare Science is a great path for anyone who wants to help people but doesn’t necessarily want to become a doctor or a nurse.

Pathology Through The Looking Glass runs Monday 6 – Tuesday 7 November at St. Stephen’s. For more information, please see the Hull 2017 website. Meanwhile, you can get in touch with the HEY Hospitals NHS Trust’s Pathology team.

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Published: Monday 6th November 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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