Lorna Harries

Lorna Harries

The early teenage years are perhaps the most formative of a young person’s life. In a bid to inspire change amongst this peer group, which is characterised by its thirst for learning and exploration, Lorna Harries co-ordinates a very special annual event. Called “Men in White”, it brings Year 9 students from schools across the region to the University of Exeter Medical School to experience what working in a research laboratory is really like.

Lorna, a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Genetics at the Medical School, said events such as this can play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the scientists of tomorrow. She said: “Inspiring change, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, to me means putting in place the infrastructure to allow people from all walks of life to reach their maximum potential.”

Having gained her PhD in 1994, Lorna has worked at a number of institutions including the Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Dundee, the MRC Cell Mutation Unit at the University of Brighton and the Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences at the University of Exeter Medical School. She has developed an interest in gene regulation and alternative messenger RNA processing in endocrine disease and human ageing and now leads the RNA mediated mechanisms of disease group.

Lorna has written more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and was awarded the Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Prize Lectureship in 2011, which she describes as her proudest moment. She added that, although she places great importance with outreach work and encouraging future generations, it was important to recognise the pioneering figures in your chosen field when conducting your own research. Lorna said: “My single piece of advice to give to others is ‘don’t give up!’. You can find inspiration in so many places, and for me that’s by looking at the great scientists that have come before me. I like the idea that my work adds even a little piece of extra information to the jigsaw that previous scientists have started to put together to achieve a greater aim.”