JING Alumni interview: David Guttery, Leicester ECMC

02 May 2024
This month as part of our JING alumni interview series we caught up with Dr David Guttery who is a Lecturer in Early Detection and Postgraduate Tutor at the Leicester Cancer Research Centre. Dave tells us about his experience of being involved in JING as a trainee, steering committee member and member of Faculty.
Can you give us a brief summary of your career?
I studied Medicinal Biochemistry at the University of Wolverhampton, graduating with honours in 2003. I was captivated by the modules involving cancer and therapeutics so followed this by studying an MSc in Cancer Molecular Pathology and Toxicology at the University of Leicester in 2004, graduating with a Distinction (and I now co-convene the course!). I subsequently undertook a PhD under the supervision of Professor Jacqui Shaw and Dr Howard Pringle investigating the role of different isoforms of tenascin-C on cancer cell invasion and proliferation. After a couple of short-term post docs between 2009 and 2010 in Professors Martin Dyer and Jacqui Shaw’s labs at the University of Leicester, I was employed for two years as a Research Fellow in the lab of Professor Rita Tewari at the University of Nottingham, investigating the role of protein phosphatases in sexual development of the malaria parasite.  I came back to Leicester in 2012 as a Senior Research Associate again in Professor Jacqui Shaw’s lab employed on a CRUK Programme award, investigating the utility of the liquid biopsy for early diagnosis and detection of breast cancer until 2017. Since 2017, I have been a Lecturer in the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, where my research focuses on both ctDNA in early detection of head and neck cancer relapse and how meiosis proceeds in the malaria parasite.
You attended the JING: TNG event in 2013 & 14, what was your highlight of the day?
There were many. Mainly the sheer scope of research and clinical trials that were showcased at the events, and the diversity of people attending from very senior and established Professors to very early career researchers and PhD students. It was great to see how the ECMC network collaborates and how willing everybody is to get involved with each other’s studies. The sessions put on were also great, with really exciting talks and interactive workshops that gets everybody together around the table to discuss how they can drive cancer research going forward. It was also great to see honest and open opinions about the current methods of clinical trial development and the pitfalls involved.
You were on the JING steering committee, what did you gain from that experience?
I found it a really exciting opportunity to shape the training opportunities available to the ECMC network. It really opened my eyes to the diversity of clinical and translational research going on and how the ECMC can shape the direction of this. I also found it really inspiring to see fellow committee members get really excited about organising and facilitating the events, while having the opportunity to build and nurture collaborations going forward. Having attended as an ECR, steering committee member and now Faculty, it has been great to interact with attendees in different roles and see how the next generation will further drive new exciting developments in cancer research and treatment.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career so far?
I couldn’t put my finger on one single best piece to be honest. I’ve been very lucky to have many extremely talented and collegiate colleagues willing to offer advice. I would probably say that it is important to ensure you try to maintain a healthy work-life balance and ensure you take time out for yourself and your mental health, whatever it is that lets you relax whether it be the gym, walking, dancing or just vegging in front of the telly. It’s so easy to become completely swamped by the daily grind and forget to enjoy life. 
What advice would you give to the 2024 JING Cohort?
Make use of the networks developed during the meeting and keep in contact with the people you’ve met. Some of the best studies and clinical trials have started life at the JING events. Also, reach out the steering committee and Faculty members to ask for mentorship. We’re all a very friendly bunch and are very happy to give any advice, so don’t be afraid to ask!