Personal and Professional Development Plan

Becoming a working professional, in any area of expertise, is an extremely difficult and task and involves high levels of competition from others trying to secure their place in the same industry. Once becoming a professional, it is then vital to be able to maintain a high level of professionalism and to continue to develop important skills. At the end of my degree I will become a professional veterinary bioscientist. In order to continue as a professional and fulfil my ambition to go onto a postgraduate veterinary medicine degree after this course, it is extremely important that I am able to and can continue to assess the skills that I need to develop to achieve this goal.


Identifying personal strengths is a very important part of being able to assess progress and development. Personally, something that I identify as one of my own strengths is being able to manage my time between my work life, university life, and then also my own personal and social life including my hobbies. Time management is a key aspect of success, as without managing time well, assignments and revision can be left too late and therefore any work produced at the last minute will not be done to the highest standard possible. On the contrary, spending too much time studying can also have a negative impact on the work produced, because it can become overwhelming and the brain needs time to relax and wind down in order to function properly and learn. Due to the fact that I have a part time job and play or umpire netball matches three to four times a week, I have to ensure that I work efficiently over regular short periods of time, whilst still allowing myself time to be able to relax and go out with friends. Currently I can do this very well, and so long as I am able to maintain this I should hopefully continue to succeed and achieve well in assignments and exams, as well as keeping fit and healthy and keeping stress levels to a minimum at the same time.


Although my general and background knowledge of the content of the course that I am studying is good, to develop further I need to ensure that I conduct my own further independent study adding to the content that we are delivered in lectures. I need to read around the subjects more in order to widen my knowledge, as it is very important to be able to fully understand what it is that I am learning, rather than just being able to memorise a set of facts. This is vital so that I am able to progress and use this knowledge in practice in the future, whether it be during my postgraduate study or after that when I begin working in the professional field.


Setting myself targets is crucial to my professional and personal development throughout my studies and also for my future career. Without specific targets and goals, it is difficult to be able to know what areas to improve on and what new skills to develop in order to better myself and progress professionally.

I think that one of the main targets I have set myself is to complete more CPD (continued personal development) courses online, and to ensure that I keep a log of them on the facilities available via my Royal Society of Biology membership. This not only will broaden my own skills and knowledge, but it will be beneficial to have as evidence to show that I am committed to constant new learning when applying for postgraduate courses, and further down the line when applying for a new job. A record of continuous personal development will hopefully make me stand out compared to others who are competing for the same educational and vocational places as myself.


Furthermore, eventhough through work experience, my current job, completion of the bronze duke of Edinburgh award and my place in one or more netball teams at a time, all display evidence that I am capable at working  well in a team, I would like to further develop my leadership skills, which are equally as important. Leadership skills and teamwork are both extremely essential skills to have for a postgraduate course, as well as for a future career in the veterinary industry. In order for me to practice and enhance my leadership skills, I will be applying for the role as captain of the university netball team from September this year, and I have also taken on the role as Vice Chairperson of the netball club that I play for in the Chelmsford District Netball League.


Overall, by using the targets that I have set for myself I will hopefully be able to develop both my personal and professional skills to help me reach and achieve my desired goal.


Fundamentals Task D: Critical reflection on current understanding of maths and chemistry

As mentioned in Task A, maths and chemistry are extremely important subjects to me with regards to the level of understanding that I need in them for the career path that I am choosing to follow: veterinary medicine. Over the course of the last few months studying for my Bioveterinary Science degree, maths and chemistry skills have been a constant requirement – not just in the Fundamentals of Bioveterinary Science module, but also in the Essential Laboratory Techniques module as well. Maths skills have been required for converting units, calculating amounts of substances and making solutions, while chemistry skills were needed during Fundamentals lessons when looking into aspects of biochemical energetics and organic chemistry, as well as needing an understanding of basic chemistry when carrying out laboratory practicals. As a result of using and practicing these skills, my understanding of maths and chemistry has definitely improved and is continuing to do so each day.

Although my understanding of mathematics has always been very strong, (supported by my A* mathematics GCSE, A grade further mathematics qualification, and C grade mathematics A level qualification), at the beginning of the bioveterinary science course I was struggling to apply my maths knowledge to the word problems, and my intention was to keep practicing this question style in order to enhance my ability to be able to answer them correctly and confidently. Repeating questions over and over again is a really good way of learning and retaining information (L. Zhan et al, 2018), and by using this technique myself and practicing the maths word questions repetitively, I can now confidently answer most questions regarding making solutions that are put in front of me, or I at least know what information I am looking for and where to start. Considering the fact that when I look at my Task A reflection, answering word problems and interpreting the right information to understand where to start was a significant problem for me, my ability to now do that is a huge improvement from a month or two ago.

Furthermore, unlike mathematics, I have always found understanding chemistry a huge challenge – it is not something that comes naturally to me. In task A, I explained that I believe my lower level of understanding in chemistry could have been due to my lack of interest in the subject at school, in contrast to mathematics which is something I have always enjoyed. Students being able to engage and find interest in their subjects is a major key to them achieving well in that subject and being successful (A. Rissanen, 2018). Although being interested in a subject is not something that you can necessarily learn, I have found other ways to enhance my understanding of chemistry:
Firstly, in the Task A reflective writing piece I showed an interest in a textbook called “Chemistry for the Biosciences: The essential concepts”, written by J. Crowe and T. Bradshaw (2014 edition). I took it upon myself to purchase this book and I have been reading through it and using it at home for my own personal study. This textbook was a great purchase because it contains all of the chemistry in it that I will need to know for this course, and its explanations are all very detailed yet easy for me to be able to understand.. It also has lots of clear diagrams and pictures – which for me, as a very visual learner, is really useful and has helped me get a much better understanding of the subject (A. Bourgoyne and M. Alt, 2017). I am also able to use the book to asses my understanding of the subject because it provides online services and questions for you to answer. The most helpful part of the questions is not necessarily actually answering them, but it is marking them by using the answers given at the back of the book and being able to self-assess. Being able to self-assess and review answers and see where you have gone wrong is a big part of advancing your learning  and helping you to progress forwards (P. Orsmond and S. Merry, 2013).

Also, throughout all of the biochemistry / organic chemistry lessons that we have had run by John Morgan for our Fundamentals in Bioveterinary Science module, I have been engaging and answering his questions to the class. In doing so I have actually found myself very surprised with my level of understanding of chemistry and have come to the realisation that I may have been underestimating my ability in chemistry just because I did not achieve highly in it at A level. It is possible that my good level of understanding John Morgan’s lessons have been aided by the extra reading and self-learning that I have been doing, combined with the previous knowledge I have from GCSE and A Level chemistry.

On reflection, I am extremely pleased with the improvement I have seen in my understanding of maths and chemistry to get it to the level that it is currently at now. With the help of my peers, lecturers and own resources, I am constantly building my knowledge and understanding of the subjects. Moving forward, I will continue to uphold my own private study on both mathematics and chemistry, and I will seek any advice from peers and staff around me if it is needed in order to ensure that I can continue to maintain and build on my level of understanding.




Bourgoyne, A. and Alt, M. (2017) The Effect of Visual Variability on the Learning of Academic Concepts. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing research.

Orsmond, P and Merry, S. (2013) The importance of self-assessment in students’ use of tutors’ feedback: a qualitative study of high and non-high achieving biology undergraduates. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education.

Rissanen, A. (2018) Student Engagement in Large Classroom: The Effect on Grades, Attendance and Student Experiences in an Undergraduate Biology Course. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education.

Zhan, L. et al. (2018) Effects of Repetition Learning on Associative Recognition Over Time: Role of the Hippocampus and Prefrontal Cortex. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Fundamentals Task C – Osmosis and its importance to living organisms

Osmosis is a very important process which is vital to the health and well-being of living organisms. It occurs both on a cellular and molecular/chemical level and it has significant effects on an organism as a whole. Osmoregulation maintains a fixed concentration of water and solutes in the cell-surrounding fluids in the body, as well as inside cells themselves – without osmosis, animals simply would not be able to survive (A.K. Johnson, 2009).


The osmotic process is a specific form of diffusion, whereby water molecules move across a semipermeable membrane into a region of a higher concentration of solute, from a region of a lower concentration of solute, in order to maintain an equilibrium (Biology Dictionary, N.d.). This process is driven by a force called osmotic pressure. Living organisms rely on the process of osmoregulation to maintain homeostasis so that their internal environment remains constant (S. Hohmann et al, 2007). A lack of enough water in the body through losing more fluid than you can take in can result in dehydration, because the body does not have enough water to be able to carry out its normal functions (NHS, 2017). On the other hand, if the body is taking in more fluids than it can lose, the level of salt or sodium in the blood can drop too low, and this can also have significant effects on the organism’s health – in extreme circumstances it can cause what is known as water intoxification (Healthline, 2017). These two examples show why the maintenance of water levels in the bodies of organisms is extremely important.


Osmosis is a particularly important concept when it comes to the survival of fish. They are known as osmoconformers – their bodies regulate the amount of water loss or gain through the maintenance of body solute concentration using osmosis (T.J. Bradley, 2010). Different types of fish live in different environments with regards to the salt concentration in the water, which depends on what parts of the world and what kinds of water they live in. For example, salt water fish and fresh water fish live in very different water concentrations, so the way their body regulates their internal environments with the aid of osmosis are very different.


Salt water fish (also known as marine fish) live in what is called a hypertonic environment, meaning that the water in the ocean contains a much higher concentration of NaCl than the fluids in the living organisms – salt water contains approximately 35g of salt per 1 litre of water (S.E.A aquarium, 2017). However, in fresh water, there is only 1g of salt per litre of water, and therefore the salt concentration in the body of the fish is higher than that of the water, making the environment hypotonic. Depending on whether the fish are in a hypertonic or hypotonic environment has an effect on the amount of water that the fish drink and absorb, because the way their bodies osmoregulate are different.


The Atlantic Salmon are one of the very few fish that are able to live in both salt water and fresh water conditions (K. Lumingkit, 2014). In salt water, the Atlantic salmon is hypoosmotic compared to the water, which means that due to the osmotic forces around the epithelia of the fish, they are continuously losing water, as the forces drive the water out of their bodies into the water where there is a higher concentration of salt. Whilst constantly losing water, they are taking in large amounts of ions. To overcome this, the Antlantic salmon drink a large volume of water, and also absorb water through the active transport of NaCl in the intestine (M. Grossel, 2011).
In contrast to when they are in salt water, the Atlantic Salmon are hyperosmotic compared to the environment in fresh water. This means that because of the osmotic forces, water diffuses into the fish over the epithelia, resulting in the outward movement of ions. As a result of this, the fresh water Atlantic salmon drink and absorb very low amounts of water. To retain the right amount of ions in their body, it is vital that fresh water Atlantic salmon actively take up sufficient sodium and chloride across their gills, (K.S. Sundell & H. Sundh, 2012), and obtain and absorb enough ions from their food so that it can be reserved in the kidney.


Not only is osmosis a very important process to overall living organisms, but it is extremely important to them on a molecular level. Red blood cells (also known as erythrocytes), rely on the process of osmosis to live and function in the body. When an erythrocyte is in a healthy state – the concentration of water inside and outside of the cell is at equilibrium – it is said to be in an isotonic solution (A. Soult, 2018). However, if there is more free water internally to the cell (hypertonic), the water will diffuse outwards via osmosis – when there is not enough water in the erythrocyte, the osmotic pressure of the cell membrane reduces and the cell shrinks and shrivels and becomes what is called flaccid.

In contrast, if there is more free water externally to the cell (hypotonic), the water will diffuse inwards via osmosis. When there is too much water in the erythrocyte, it will begin to swell and in extreme circumstances, the cell will burst – in any cell this is known as lysis (L.K. Goodhead and F.M. MacMillan, 2017), but in specific reference to erythrocytes, a cell bursting is called haemolysis.


As displayed throughout this report, osmosis has a huge importance in the functioning of living organisms, both on a molecular level and effecting the whole organisms. Without highly sensitive osmoreguation, organisms would not be able to maintain homeostasis and therefore their enzymes and body systems, and even down to each individual cell in their bodies, would simply not be able to function. Without the full functioning of all of these systems in a homeostatic state, living organisms cannot be compatible with life.






Biology Dictionary. (n.d.). Osmosis Definition. [online].  (Accessed 21stNovember, 2018)


Bradley, T.J. (2010). Osmoconformers. Oxford Animal Biology Series.


Goodhead, L.K. and MacMillan, F.M. (2017). Measuring osmosis and hemolysis of red blood cells. US Natioal Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.


Grossel. M. (2011). Intestinal anion exchange in marine teleosts is involved in osmoregulation and contributes to the oceanic inorganic carbon cycle. Acta Physiol.


Healthline. (2017). Overhydration. [online]. 21st November, 2018).


Hohmann, S. et al. (2007). Osmosensing and Osmosignalling. Methods of Enzymology.


Johnson, A.K. (2009). Osmoregulation. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience.


Lumingkit. K. (2014). Atlantic Salmon (Salmon Salar) osmoregulation in sea water. Faculty of Science.


NHS. (2017). Dehydration. [online]. 21stNovember, 2018).


S.E.A. Aquarium. (2017). Saltwater Fish Vs Freshwater Fish. [online]. 25thNovember, 2018).


Soult, A. (2018). Osmosis and Diffusion. Chemistry LibreTexts.


Sundell, K.S. and Sundh, H. (2012). Intestinal fluid absorption in anadromous salmonids: importance of tight junctions and aquaporins. Aquatic Physiology.

Professional Practice in Bioveterinary Science – Task A (Industry Analysis)

Current developments in tumour immunotherapy for animals

Cancer is statistically one of the largest killers in the UK, (World Health Organisation 2018). Doctors and scientists from all over the world are constantly researching and developing ways in which cancer can be treated in humans, and these medical developments can also be used in the development of veterinary medicine to help animals with the same or similar health problems. Treatment enhancements like this will be hugely beneficial in the animal health industry, as currently there are still very limited cancer treatment options for animals (Cancer Veterinary Centres, 2018). This piece of writing focuses on a significant development currently being made in veterinary medicine, which involves huge advances in cancer immunotherapy treatments.

What is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy uses parts of the animal’s own immune system to fight a variety of different diseases, one of which can be cancer. At the moment, there are two main types of immunotherapy that can be used for the treatment of cancer in dogs. These include vaccinations against cancer, as well as the use of monoclonal antibodies (Cancer Veterinary Centers, 2018).  Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies that have specifically been designed by researchers or scientists to target a certain antigen. These are then replicated in laboratories and used for the treatment of some types of cancer (Biozone AQA Biology, 2015).

History of immunotherapy

Without the history of research into immunotherapy, scientists would not be able to undertake the research that they are conducting at this current time. The first ever cancer vaccine study was published in 1959, by John and Ruth Graham, who were husband and wife researchers (William K. Decker et al). The couple’s work was mainly unnoticed, however the generation of the Graham vaccine did instigate the origination of the tumor-specific antibody. Just under 10 years later (1967), Jacques Miller published an article on the discovery of the role of the cellular immune response in adaptive immunity – this was the true stem of all future and now current developments in immunotherapy: “There isn’t a single advance in vaccine, immunotherapy or autoimmunity research that doesn’t incorporate (his) thinking.” – Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty, in reference to Professor Jacques Miller (Walter+Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, 2017).

Current Developments in immunotherapy

The future of immunotherapy for cancer is becoming increasingly more positive and exciting with regards to the developments now being made, along with the breakthroughs that have been made in recent years (Forde et al, 2013. Raval et al, 2014. Sanlorenzo et al, 2014). These most recent and current developments started with the evident success against advanced tumours in humans which was attained by the use of monoclonal antibodies in the inhibition of T cell checkpoint molecules (Daniel Regan et al, 2016).

One of the most major advances in tumour immunotherapy is the progress of the artificially produced monoclonal antibodies specific to tumour antigens, which have been modified to directly destruct the cells (Zhou et al, 2014). The treatment of tumours in this way not only involves immune mechanisms, but also non-immune mechanisms as well. On several occasions, monoclonal antibodies against canine lymphoma have been evaluated in clinical trials and they gave promising results – as reported in the annual meeting of the Veterinary Cancer Society in 2014, the combination of chemotherapy with the canine anti-CD20 antibody were very successful against dogs with B-cell lymphoma. As a result, this anti-CD20 is now being used in American and Canadian clinics to treat dogs with this disease (Daniel Regan et al, 2016).

Whereas in previous years only very limited variations of cancer have been able to be treated based off of the basic research available to work from, new anticancer biopharmaceuticals such as these highly developed monoclonal antibodies have been manipulated and applied to treat a range of different cancers. This is possible because they can target the specific antigens for each type of cancer, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia, lymphoma and also lung and renal cancers. As years of research go on, scientists are finding a much wider range of treatments available to treat a much wider variety of cancers in animals, which is a huge positive for veterinarians and pet owners. However, all of this research into cancer immunotherapy does come at a cost, with hundreds of millions of pounds being spent on it each year.


Overall, the commitment and research involved in the development of anti-cancer drugs over years has significantly improved the treatment of cancers for animals available today. The growth of knowledge and practice in this area of veterinary medicine is a hugely valuable factor to improving the animal health industry and extending the lives of millions of cancer patients all over the world. There is no doubt that this research will continue and develop even further over the future decades and we are yet to discover just how far scientists and researchers can push their knowledge and technical abilities to produce what could potentially be truly amazing results for the animal health industry.




Cancer Veterinary Centres. (n.d.) Immunotherapy – Dogs and Cats. [online]. 14thNovember, 2018).


Decker, W.K. et al. (2017) Cancer Immunotherapy: Historical Perspective of a Clinical Revolution and Emerging Preclinical Animal Models. US National Library of Medicine.


Forde, P.M. et al. (2013) What Lies Within: Novel Strategies in Immunotherapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. The official journal of the Society for Translational Oncology.


Greenwood, T. et al. (2015) AQA Biology 1 A-Level Year 1/AS  Student Workbook. Biozone.


Raval, R.R. et al. (2014) Tumour immunology and cancer immunotherapy: summary of the 2013 SITC primer. Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer.


Regan, D. et al. (2016) Cancer immunotherapy in veterinary medicine: Current options and new developments. The Veterinary Journal.


Sanlorenzo, M. et al. (2014) Melanoma immunotherapy. Cancer Biology & Therapy.


Walter + Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. (2017) Professor Jacques Miller. [online].

(Accessed 14thNovember, 2018).


World Health Organisation. (2018) The top 10 causes of death. [online].

(Accessed 8thNovember, 2018).


Zhou, L. et al. (2014) Targeted biopharmaceuticals for cancer treatment. Cancer Letters.







Fundamentals Task B – Lay Summary

The Veterinary Record Open is a journal containing a wide variety of veterinary based research which has been published by Veterinarians and other scientists. They recently published an article concerning the antimicrobial resistance, (resistance to drugs), of P multocidabacterium. The reasoning behind this study wasto evaluate the ongoing changes in the antimicrobial resistance of the P multocida, and use this to be able to choose the most effective drugs to treat animals infected by it. Antimicrobial resistance is an ongoing issue caused by the inappropriate use of medicines. For example, if someone does not finish their full course of antibiotics that have been prescribed, the bacterium causing their infection can change and develop in such a way that they become resistant to the medication and therefore those antibiotics can no longer be used as a treatment. Yoon-Hee Ohet alcarried out the study after it became clear that this form of bacteria was one of the most significant causes of respiratory infection outbreaks (particularly causing pneumonia), in the Korean pig industry. The resistance of the P multocidawas causing a huge increase in the mortality and morbidity in pigs (Nedbalcova K. and Kucerova Z. 2013). Urgent action needed to be taken, for there were also further concerns that this could consequently have a dangerous effect on species further along the food chain.


Seven years was the length of the time period of which the study was conducted over – from 2010 to 2016 – making it a longitudinal study. This long period of time over which the study was carried out means that the results produced and the trends in the data are more reliable and paint a better picture of how the P multocidahas developed and changed its resistance over time, compared to if the study had only been conducted over a series of months – if it was only conducted over a very short time period then no accurate conclusions would have been able to be drawn.
The researchers used a sum of 454 isolates of the bacteria from all nine provinces in Korea. Across the time period of the study, these isolates were used to observe and analyse the changes in the resistance of the bacteria to 18 different antimicrobials that are used for the treatment of pigs on a day-to-day basis.


The methods which the researchers used to retrieve the strains of P multocidainvolved performing nasal swabs and obtaining them from the lungs of diseased pigs from Korean farms, and from each farm, 1 to 5 isolates were used. Following on from this, the bacteria were isolated on a surface of Columbian agar, as well as an additional 5% sheep blood. The next step was the Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing. This was done via interpreting the Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) using their break points, which are given by the Clinical and Laboratory Standard Institute. The breakpoint of bacteria is a given concentration of an antimicrobial, which deciphers whether the bacteria is either susceptible or resistant to it. The MIC50 represents the MIC which inhibited 50% of isolates. Likewise, the MIC90represents that 90% of the isolates where inhibited by that MIC. Overall it was clear that the P multocidaisolates were multi-drug resistant, as there were three or more antimicrobials that it was resistant to.


Table 1 in the journal showed that some isolates displayed more resistance to certain antimicrobials, compared with other isolates, as seen below.






Table 1:Percentage resistance of P multocidato different types of antimicrobials as recorded between 2010 and 2016


Antimicrobials Resistance (%)
Ampicillin 4.8
Ceftiofur 0.2
Chlortetracyline 36.8
Enrofloxacin 2.6
Florfenicol 18.5
Oxytetracycline 66.5
Penicillin 5.5
Spectinomycin 2.9
Sulphadimethoxine 76.0
Tilmicosin 2.6
Trimethoprim 1.1
Tulathromycin 0

As displayed in Table 1, the P multocidawas by far the most frequently resistant to the antimicrobial Sulphadimethoxine, with a resistance of 76%, closely followed by Oxytetracycline where the bacteria had a resistance of 66.5%. On the other end of the scale, the table also shows that the bacteria had absolutely no resistance at all to the antimicrobial Tulathromycin, and had a tiny resistance of just 0.2% against Ceftiofur.
Furthermore, the results showed no clear  increasing or decreasing patterns for most antimicrobials. There was one significant exception, however, which was the enrofloxacin. This antimicrobial started the seven year period in 2010 with a resistance from 0% of isolates, which then increased over the time period to reach 10.3% of isolates in 2016. Possible reasoning for this increase in resistance to this particular antimicrobial could have been down to the fact that for years it has been used for treatment on a wide scale (AQPA, 2016).


In general, the trends in the resistance to antimicrobials displayed in the present study were similar to those that had been recorded in prior Korean studies, but when comparing them to the reported rates for the EU,  North America and other countries, this study showed an overall higher antimicrobial resistance rate.


The final conclusions drawn by this study focus on the fact that the huge volume of MDR P multocida in Korean pig farms needs serious attention, because the severe increase in the amount of respiratory infections, including pneumonia, in pigs, is becoming an increasing concern for both the welfare of the pigs and the effect that it could have on their farming industry, but also that it could potentially cause the spread of this disease throughout the food chain. To avoid further antimicrobial resistance from this bacteria, the study highly advises that antimicrobials need to be used more wisely when treating the pigs, so that it can prevent the further spread of infection, and also reduce the amount of antimicrobial resistance they will face in the future.





The Journal :

Oh, Y-H. et al.(2018). Antimicrobial resistance of Pasteurella multocidastrains isolated from pigs between 2010 and 2016. Veterinary Record Open.

References from within the journal :

Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (APQA). Antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance monitoring in animals and animal products. 2010. Gimcheon, South Korea, 2016.

Nedbalcová K, Kučerová Z. Antimicrobial susceptibility of Pasteurella multocidaand Haemophilus parasuisisolates associated with porcine pneumonia. Acta Veterinaria Brno 2013;82:3–7.