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Russell Craddock, PhD Medicine

State-of-the-art facilities and a sterling reputation lured Russell to Manchester as an undergraduate – and made sure he stayed in a city where he “never gets bored”.

University of Manchester PhD student Russell Craddock

“I chose Manchester because it’s one of the world leaders in medical biochemistry – and I’m still here for the same reason. I loved my undergraduate degree, but then I did my master’s and that gave me a real taste for scientific research. After that I knew I wanted to do a PhD.

“I took a year out working as a lab assistant, and then came back to do research in inflammation and repair. It’s essentially a tissue engineering project looking at using stem cells to grow intervertebral discs. Around 40 per cent of bad backs are caused by damaged intervertebral discs and it’s a massive problem, which costs billions to treat.

“My PhD is fully funded by Manchester’s Alumni Association, which offered me a Research Impact Scholarship – and I was also lucky enough to get a President’s Doctoral Scholarship Award. It not only helps with living costs, but also gives me access to special training courses and networking events, which are hugely useful.

“My lab has expertise in all aspects of my discipline and the teaching is excellent. You’re not thrown in at the deep end with no help; there’s a lot of guidance along the way.”

“Outside my studies, I’ve been chair and secretary of the Faculty of Life Sciences Society, and I’m now the chair of the Faculty of Human Sciences Graduate Society. We put on a range of events, including an ‘elevator pitch’ series at local secondary schools where we have a minute to explain our research – about the same time it would take an elevator to go up a 20-storey building. It’s a bit scary, but we’re trying to remove the stereotypes around science being geeky to encourage young kids to go into it.

“The fact is we don’t just stay in labs being boring! I’ve had a great time here and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.”