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Posted on: 2 February 2018

TPS Alumni: James Coverdale

Dr James Coverdale, a TPS ex-student, has been in the news recently for his research work on targeting and destroying cancer cells.

James left TPS in 2008 with a fabulous set of GCSEs (as can be seen in this photo from Results Day!) and went on to Alton College to study Maths, Further Maths, Biology and Chemistry A-Levels.  He gained a place at the University of Warwick to study Chemistry, followed by a PhD, and was then made a Research Fellow there.

We caught up with him to ask some searching questions:

What did you get from TPS?

The school motto at the time - “Try, Persevere, Succeed” - is a great way to approach difficult tasks that you will encounter during A-Levels, apprenticeships, university and throughout your career. You will only get out as much as you put into something!

What have you learnt since leaving TPS?

Find a job that will make you want to get out of bed on an early morning and go to work!  Also, it’s okay for things to go badly.  Particularly in scientific research - we often gain the most knowledge from experiments that didn’t work, rather than those which went according to plan.  Currently I am working on new ways to target and kill cancer cells more effectively by understanding and altering their biochemistry. We hope that our drugs could lessen the side-effects of chemotherapy and overcome increasing resistance of cancer cells to existing medications.

Where do you want to be in 5 years’ time?

In 5 years, I hope to be making new breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer, whilst leading my own research group at a University. Our aim is to develop more effective, selective and safer treatments for patients in the future.

Who inspires you and why?

I am inspired by anyone willing to go the extra mile! The hard work and dedication of my colleagues both inspires and motivates me to do the same. By surrounding yourself with inspirational people at school and at work, you will achieve fantastic things!

A gifted musician, James was a leading member of various TPS school bands.  He said, “Unfortunately I get less and less time to play these days, but it always serves as a very nice relief after a long day at work!”