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About this episode
#2 — In this episode of Flow Stars, we’re joined by Jonni Moore of the University of Pennsylvania and Rachel Errington of Cardiff University. In this frank and forthright discussion, we talk about the role of cytometry in interdisciplinary research, and the future of the field, taking in Great Expectations, Brentford FC, and the Philadelphia Eagles along the way. We can also give advance warning of a soccer match to be held at ISAC 2022! We also discuss more serious matters, as Jonni and Rachel share their biggest career challenges and offer some sage advice for early career researchers.
This is an automated transcript and may not be 100% accurate.
Peter O’Toole (00:00:11):
Welcome to Flow Stars, a series of interviews with top names in Flow Cytometry, we have another double header for you today. As I chat to Jonni Moore of the University of Pennsylvania and Rachel Errington of Cardiff University. In this episode, we’ll get some career advice from the president and president elect of ISAC .
Rachel Errington (00:00:34):
You got your career pathway is a marathon, not a sprint. And I think you need to weave your way through it and make sure you look after what’s important along the way.
Peter O’Toole (00:00:44):
We discover why Jonni and her husband and dog dress up as Victorians. Every December.
Jonni Moore (00:00:51):
What they do is call yes, you close off the street and they put bales of hay and various people. Sit there, reading Dickens
Peter O’Toole (00:01:03):
And discover how Rachel learned the hard way about the role of lab pranks.
Rachel Errington (00:01:08):
I realised then that you had to, to survive in this lab. I re when you really have to raise your game in terms of the pranks that you had to play.
Peter O’Toole (00:01:18):
All in this episode of Flow Stars.
Peter O’Toole (00:01:26):
Hi, I’m Peter O’Toole. And today I’m joined by Jonni Moore, going to University of Pennsylvania and from Rachel Errington from University of Cardiff who actually have quite a lot in common, even though they might not realize this yet. I look at the horror on their faces when I say that they are. So we have the current president of ISAC and the incoming president of ISAC. So it’ll be great to hear what Rachel thinks Jonni’s doing wrong and what she’ll improve in the future. Also they both had a career in the cytometry with cell, a cytometry as a whole, not necessarily flow cytometry on the way through, and also both have startup companies. And actually I’d say more than a startup started up companies that are being successful. So quite interesting careers and tracks to go through today. So, Jonni, hello, Rachel. Hello. Hi, Peter. Peter, when did you two first meet?
Jonni Moore (00:02:24):
Well, we, I first met Rachel years ago, but through actually ISAC and when she became involved early on as not that long ago as treasurer and involved. And that is when I first met Rachel during that time, I knew of her for quite a while, but I first met her.
Rachel Errington (00:02:50):
I was going to say there’s two phases to knowing Jonni, there’s knowing of her and seeing her in the distance and watching, watching her operate, and then there’s participating with Jonni and doing things. And all of that has been centered around ISAC.
Peter O’Toole (00:03:07):
No, I was waiting for one of you to have a completely different memory of when you first met.
Rachel Errington (00:03:12):
I think the key thing here is that we have met a lot virtually because that’s how the society society gets together. Most of the time is by virtual because we’re international. And so it’s strange not meeting somebody this year because of it being virtual because of the pandemic so you kind of miss that once, once a year, because it is the only time that you meet.
Jonni Moore (00:03:41):
I agree. And I always say that I don’t know everyone, but I know everyone who does know everyone. So it, in the cytometry community and the greater cytometry community, it is actually a very close and interactive community. So you do know the names you do. And the best part about it to me is that if I didn’t know Rachel, and let’s say I had questions about track five, which I did years ago. And I first started using some of that. I could, I wouldn’t feel upset about going to Rachel and saying, who’s the best person to do that, even though maybe I hadn’t met her at that point. And to me, that is what is very unique about this community. And that is some of our challenges right now that we can talk about in a little bit is keeping that a close association, as Rachel said, we mostly exist that way, but we’ve always had a live face to face meeting where we can get together. And one of the main thing memories in my life is when we had our meeting. The first in Montpellier, France, many years ago, we had two ISACs there, but we used to leave the meeting and then the cafes and that town would be filled with cytometrists. And we’d be sitting there drinking wine, eating good food, still talking cytometry. And I think that’s what is unique about us, of course.
Peter O’Toole (00:05:28):
So in case it’s interesting having the two of you here, cause you also contrast each other because a lot of people who join ISAC, see it very much as Flow Cytometry as a, as a, as a society. And it’s not, it’s cytometry the measurements in cell. So if I also ask you Jonni, Jonni, what was your first cytometer that you ever used?
Jonni Moore (00:05:51):
An [Inaudible] spectrum three.
Peter O’Toole (00:05:54):
Okay. And if I was to ask you Rachel,
Rachel Errington (00:05:57):
So for me, it’s cytometry is a tool in which you measure a cell. And the first cytometer I use was a Bio Rad 500 MRC 500 confocal microscope.
Peter O’Toole (00:06:10):
So it’s truly cytometers, but I bet Rachel, most people wouldn’t think of the confocal microscope as a cytometer. They very much see it as a confocal microscope. Yep, absolutely. You’re in a flow cytometer and it’s, I think you’ve got a challenge. Here are the society has a great potential to grow even further. And it’s getting that microscopy community in or aligned with it. That is still, it’s still very heavily flow cytometry, biased, society.
Jonni Moore (00:06:45):
Yeah. And we, we talk constantly about a challenge and one is because the microscopy societies are pretty strong and they meet the needs of that community. I would suggest that confocal microscopy really started bringing bringing them close together cause were using fluorochromes we’re using different approaches that than we did, even though we did use those and regular a fluorescence microscopy, I think confocal made it more like in people’s minds, what we thought about cytometry. But I think what, what we are going into an area where we’re starting to think about this field as single cell analysis, not Flow Cytometry, we’re certainly doing single cell genomics in our field. Most of our labs are doing that as well. So if we think about that way and and we think about even the journal, which is a journal of quantitative cell analysis, basically now, then I think we’ll come together because each technology brings something unique to the field and they’re complimentary, they’re not one or the other anymore that we
Peter O’Toole (00:08:07):
Let me throw this at you and maybe get Rachel to think about this one, because there isn’t actually a natural home yet because it’s so early in the technology of spatial genomics and spatial transcriptomics, and even spatial metabolomics that they fall between stools. The microscopy community are very much on their super resolution and volume electron microscopy rather than the slide scanning type technology, I guess the pathology side it would fit into. But that’s not really necessarily the technologist and that our user base wouldn’t align themselves with that. And yet cytometers again, it’s, it’s now just a pure imaging platform. So is there a home and something we could do here, Rachel? Well,
Rachel Errington (00:08:52):
So for me, the spatial of being able to measure a cell has been fundamental to what I have been doing. I also the temporal issues of all of how you can measure a cell over time, X, Y, and Zed and time. And I think there’s a lot of crosstalk between within all this, because you’re using a fluorochrome. So you have to understand how you can get the quantitative measure out of fluorescent signal and then weed out and also the spatial aspects. So how, when you see a response of all the cell, with being able to share, how is the neighborhood behaving? What is the proximity? What is the context of that that behavior, that functionality and that’s where, where microscopy has the capacity to image has its real value. So that’s when you can think about the spatial aspects of transcriptomics and really understand the neighborhoods, the niche, the, the, the, the micro environments, if you like of the system, I think that’s so important because being able to break up a population is one thing, but how is that really assembled within the tissue and going between all of those platforms? And that capacity is the most important thing. So it is not a one, a one size fits all. You have to be able to get across the platforms and really understand the biological system at whatever level, whether that is at the wholesale level or at the transcriptomic level, the spatial aspect is important. The temporal aspects are important, but you need numbers and, and, and be able to have populations as well. If you have all of that, that’s when you start integrating your data together, integrating the, the, the, the knowledge that comes out of that. And that’s when you start understanding your system. So I think that’s where we need to, we need cytometry and microscopy and Genomics to come together and say, how are we really going to solve? This is the big challenge for us. We can sit in our sides, but that isn’t going to work. We have to come together and really share how we, how we interrogate the data for more aspects. And you need your physicists there. We need your mathematicians as well. You know, they all have to be involved in really order to dissect, that, that information out, because we can’t do it on your own and we’re getting very close to be able to do it all now. And it’s how we bring that together. And I think that’s, that’s a future cell based measurements, if you like. [inaudible],
Peter O’Toole (00:11:39):
I think it’s tantalizing and yet so frustrating because all these things that are connecting together actually really hard to connect them all together properly. My, my PhD students at the moment, Laura, and she is a top math student that graduated out of York and we grabbed her? Cause it is, it is the math’s and the compute science. We need to analyze the data. So she’s using Flow Cytometry, but actually a lot of her data be single cell tracking and looking at the changes. And so she’s using all these technologies coming together and we can teach her how to use a Flow Cytometer, how to image very hard to teach someone like myself, how to do the math’s and the computer science behind it.
Rachel Errington (00:12:20):
So I’ve had lots of conversations youngsters thinking about where to go in terms of our biology, undergraduate graduate postdoc. I’m really math’s is fundamental to that. How do we, how do we upskill to data analysis and data analysis, all these things that go right around, but really we need our Biologists to engage in that and so math’s is the new black for biology, it’s the where we’re going to make new roads, so that we can integrate data, we can interpret data, we can use modeling visualization, and bring, and bring all that together. So mathematicians are really important to us going forward.
Peter O’Toole (00:13:06):
I think Jonni you’ll agree. I’m sure that high dimensional flow cytometry analysis has taken off in a big way in the past few years, and yet still has so far to go.
Jonni Moore (00:13:16):
Yes. So I think, and I guess you know, what I like to think about is there’s a word that was floating around and back when culture and Paul Robinson used it years ago called Cytomics and Cytomics makes really is where we are now in this field, it is not cytometry alone. It’s, it’s really the integration of what you’re talking about. And we recently just changed our facility name to Penn Cytomics because we’re doing all of these things. Interestingly, I just hired a new post-doc PhD in applied mathematics. As, as Rachel said, he’s already created two or three new algorithms, but he’s not constrained about this is a way we analyze flow cytometry data or whatever he, because he has no background and that he’s learning it several years ago when we first started our company. I one of my partners who formed it was is a physicist Wade Rogers and he actually did a lot in computation. He worked originally in genomics, but he is someone who really learned a lot of the biology, but after the fact, so he thinks about it like a physicist. He doesn’t think about it like a biologist, but I might disagree a little bit. And you know, yes, I’m old school, but you’ve mentioned that, you know how hard it’s put it all together. I don’t need to understand in depth, all of those mathematical approaches, I need to find people who do to work on the team. And I think now with it’s really all about single cell measurements, single cells in different cytomes, because if you think about the cytomics, you’ve got the tumor microenvironment as Rachel was talking about, as well as the disease and the ability to integrate all this, because now we have the computational power to do that. And we just started another collaboration with a really big data guy here at Penn. He has the largest basically genomics database of neurodegenerative diseases in the world. He does it for NIH and he came to me and said he was very interested in cytometry. He thought it was very cool. Can we do for cytometry, what was done for genomics? And I think you’re going to see a lot more of that going forward,
Peter O’Toole (00:16:05):
Which is good, because if you looked 10 years ago, I think some of the flow cytometrists, would have been looking over there, looking around thinking, have we got a future? Where is it going? And it has really blossomed it’s really. And I still hear peers around saying, oh yes, but we’ll replace it with single cell Genomics without a cytometer. And, you know, we can do all the imaging, mass spec stuff. So we don’t need with fluorescent fluorochromes I don’t see it. I actually, I think we’re the starting point. And I think it will be the ones that are gonna be feeding these other technologies, because those are the technologies would would almost run out of steam, possibly if we weren’t getting that visual context and the single cell higher Plex data. And it’s that I think is going to push and there is
Jonni Moore (00:16:55):
A practical issue. So for 20 years plus of my career, I also directed the clinical diagnostic flow cytometry laboratory here at the University of Pennsylvania. So I did the research part, the clinical, and it’s a unique perspective because I always say on the research part, we see everything we can do on the clinical part, knowing what can translate and think about what’s paid for it, all those things, you know, everybody gets all excited about doing 10 colors in a clinical lab. I’m doing 40 colors on the spectral instruments plus, and we’ve got [inaudible] doing many more. So the trick is applying these, getting these technologies, and that’s something that’s a passion of mine that can directly affect patient care and patient wellbeing. And that is finding a way to translate from one to the other. And I think that’s where we’re going to be challenged a lot. We’ve got a lot of things we could do, but in the clinical world, we haven’t changed much in the past 25 years.
Rachel Errington (00:18:12):
So that was going to be my question, during this is how where are the converters? How do you convert what we do in the lab accelerate that conversion so that, so it is affecting the patient. You know, we, we work very closely with clinicians at Cardiff and and we value that interaction and we we get samples coming from the clinics and so that we can enhance our science, but I’m not sure that we really are impacting back the other way I spot or as, as we would like. And so it’s really closing that loop down, making it narrow and finding where the converters are. So you can be, you know, I see an ecosystem for the pioneers, for the innovators and converters. And with, you know, I haven’t mentioned whether you’re a scientist or whether you’re a nurse or you’re a clinician, it’s those three kinds of individuals that really allow us to impact on the patient. Because if we don’t do that, we are being truly academic in every, in the truest sense of the definition of academic science and four-star papers. Apparently that’s what we get measured on, but ultimately you want to have an impact on, on, on the patient. If you’re working in the medical school like myself, that’s, you know, that’s why I’m there. I want to be having an impact (absolutely) on the patient.
Jonni Moore (00:19:39):
I think one of the ways that, that I’ve always approached it and I’ve done it in a couple of fields right now, I’m doing it in the whole high parameter field. And you know, how do I translate that I work with the where the if you will diagnostic, we do the clinical trials for the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, which is a consortium of several camps or centers in United States. But what you have to do is have the conversations with the clinicians. And I’ll always remember the one that was the basis for us starting our company was with a cardiologist who came to me and said, if a patient comes to me and says, doc, will I have a heart attack? And am I going to have a heart attack? He said, I can’t answer that question. There is no test that I can do that can tell me, I can tell his risk is up there some I could look at something like proponents, if he comes to the ER and he’s going to have a heart attack the next three hours, but nothing else. And the cardiologist who we always joke that cardiologists don’t know from a flow cytometer, they it’s not used in their practice. He said, I just heard about flow cytometry. What can we do? And that was the start of us developing a clinical based assay to look at extracellular vesicles for risk stratification, for cardiac patients. So that, again, I wouldn’t have necessarily thought about that. If I didn’t have that interaction with the clinician, who’s telling me a problem and a challenge that they have. And I think we need to have that, that back and forth a lot, because what we have expertise is the technology aspect, you know, in our lab, we have both clinical and research, but in general, we’re techno geeks a lot in our that’s what our field is a lot. So we can find applications to answer this question, but we need a close partnership with clinical people to keep this going.
Peter O’Toole (00:21:55):
I think you brought up an interesting point at the end there, Jonni, you’re both technologists just changing tack a little bit. You’ve both been involved in spinning out, companies, to solve different problems. So in your case, you’ve got a CytoVas Jonnie and obviously Biostatus, make sure, How, How you’re in academic roles, but developing a career that you’re being paid to do. And you’ve got an idea for these spin out companies that a spin out. It takes a lot of time, effort, energy. How did you do that? Would you advise anyone doing it? What, what tips and tricks would you give them?
Jonni Moore (00:22:43):
Well Rachel, you, my approach was a little different. So, so,
Rachel Errington (00:22:49):
So I, I was not a founder of Biostatus. So I arrived as a post-doc in the lab and I became involved in Biostatus. And what I see is essential for an SME to be able to deliver on what I think we’re delivering by, by developing offload goals. These that allows us to really understand what the common problems are and to see whether we can provide some solutions. So, so Biostatus is not providing the drugs exactly. But these these are molecules that have to behave like a drug. If it’s going to get into a cell and they’ve got all the same problems, it’s got to penetrate tissue cells, getting label is as a target involved. So you do some sort of drug discovery in its essence approach to stubborn program. And that’s the other side of the coins It’s looking at doing drug discovery, but I think in order to, yeah, it’s a bit like how do you share your science? You can share your science with publications. You can share your science by sending a bit of the molecule in the post, et cetera, but that’s not going to have the impact that you want. If you want to have real impact in terms of people using your your technologies, you have to set up a platform to do that. And it isn’t going to be through really good publications, et cetera, but that gets you, that gets you the recognition and the understanding what can happen. And if you want quality control and you want everybody to be using a reproducible method, you have to have a platform in which to do it. That costs money to set up these don’t these, these things don’t fall, fall into the lap. So by setting up a spin out what you can allow, what’s the motivation behind that is that everybody has access to that technology when using it in a reproducible way, we’re delivering something that we know is, is going to work in the hands of our, in, in everybody’s hands. And that’s indeed during science. We want everybody to be able to use that [Inaudible] stroke, product stroke, assay. So, so the our assays are reproducible and can be. And so when somebody is using that particular [inaudible] we understand what it means. So it’s a means of getting a technology into the hands of many in a, in a very systematic way. So for me, it’s a no brainer on that’s, how you should, how you have to do it because there is, I can’t think of any other way of providing that systematic approach. Now, in terms of effort you have to, you have separation or complex. You have to, you have to be sure that you understand what those are and you keep us at Biostatus is the the businesses run by a known scientist a talented businessman in his own, right, and knows how to run a company. And as academics are involved in that company and steer the product development or the innovation, but ultimately it’s the businessmen that gets that, that keeps the whole show on the road. And so you, and again, it’s a partnership. It’s like anything. It’s a really good team that you put together. And and you partner with to make that successful.
Peter O’Toole (00:26:15):
I think you may miss one of the key aspect there from a, from a customer’s perspective is the support, the help, and support that is always available. And in an academic post, you can’t be doing that and have your own priorities in an academic place. Whereas the company give them the ability we can do it. What about yourself, Jonni?
Jonni Moore (00:26:36):
First of all, I call myself an academic entrepreneur. So I have always stayed in the academic environment. Although I mentioned my partner, Dr. Wade Rogers, he did leave Penn to go full-time to CytoVas. We at Penn have rather stringent controls put on us. So for instance, I cannot have any named role in the company, which is a stupid thing, because if you don’t let the inventors have a name role, it comes out. I can, I am an owner. And Penn mostly owns it, but and but I can’t have anything to do with, cause I can’t even talk to investors if they’re raising money. So it’s very much a challenge. But we, what universities don’t do well, we do very well and research of the R and D paradigm. We knew the research very well, the development to get something that can be out to the world as we were just talking about, because that takes a different kind of money. It’s not the money you’re going to get from a funding organization in general, because it’s, it’s, it’s developing the process and getting that out is requires raising money. So on the other hand, what’s been very exciting about doing this is I can see a way since my goal, our company was focused on developing a diagnostic prognostic assay that a system that can be applied to, to predict cardiovascular disease at first, and then now traumatic brain injury that could go out in the clinical world. And how’s the best way to deliver this. We don’t want, you know, early on we worked on a platform that was the only one of its kind. And the company that developed it didn’t have any plans to develop another one. So that’s no good to us. I mean, it was good to us when we’re developing the assays, but what good is addict, because you need to have these things out. We want to have them out. But I think the, the synergy that we’ve, I’ve been able to do between developing those assays, again, talking to the clinicians, what is your challenge using the standardization, which is very critical that you do in a corporate environment? Not that we shouldn’t do our research level that way, but you know, it’s much more stringent in that world so that you could develop has been exciting. And as far as CytoVas goes, it was it’s next generation is in the process of developing. The first generation basically was sold and sold to the American Heart Association. They bought it all the IP. And because they have an entrepreneurial side because they want to further develop that. And now we’re working with some new investors in a new round, the traumatic brain injury and some solid tumor, liquid biopsies versions. But I, I, if I, one part of me says, if I’d started this, when I was 20 years younger, would I have gone on that path? But then I think about it and said that was able to happen because I was where I was, I was in the academic environment able to bring that knowledge and, and move that way. So, so I think it’s very exciting. I think it’s really, I’ve had the opportunity in my career to see from the beginning. I started out in basic science. I mean, I used a little bit of flow cytometry, but I was really focused on basic science. My science became more technology-driven as I went along and then to the far end on a commercial platform. So I think it’s, it’s it, when you can take it to that breadth, I think it’s very exciting time. It was, has been for me. I know. So,
Peter O’Toole (00:31:32):
But all that takes time and effort and yes, neither of you look completely exhausted. So it’s
Jonni Moore (00:31:41):
Monday and we had a weekend
Peter O’Toole (00:31:43):
Because you do have outside interests. So actually I’ve got this picture up, Jonni, explain this picture. Okay. So
Jonni Moore (00:31:51):
We have a my husband and I that’s my husband, Roger and I, they, me dog Willow. We have a house on the Eastern shore of the us on the Chesapeake bay and there’s a small town that’s called Chester town. And the first weekend of December, they have a Dickens festival. And what they do is call yes, they close off the street and they put bales of hay and various people sit there reading Dickens, and then they have, you know, English food. And the it’s really great. So my husband and I to everybody does dress up. We got into the the spirit of things. So it’s great,
Peter O’Toole (00:32:40):
But I’m intrigued to know what English food is.
Rachel Errington (00:32:42):
Yeah. Tell us what English food is?.
Jonni Moore (00:32:45):
Well, What they’re doing it are those you know, the hard boiled eggs with the sausage around them. Right, right. Scotch eggs. Yeah. Scotch Egg. So it’s generically English and there’s again, they, I guess it does have a pension for scotch because they have haggis and they have lots of things of those types or various sausages. And but they also have, since we’re on the Chesapeake bay, fresh Chesapeake oysters, that good, but it’s, it’s, it’s great fun. We love doing that. And dressing up and listening to all sorts of Dickens. What’s your favorite Dickens novel? Well, I, Great Expectations is still my favorite. And I remember the first time I read it in high school, you know, was that thick and going, I hated it, but then I read it again in college. I mean, I didn’t hate the novel. I hated the fact that it was so long and in high school, I didn’t want to spend all that much time reading things, but in college I read it again and I really that’s really one that’s up there. What about you, Rachel? What’s your favorite
Rachel Errington (00:34:04):
I to I to like Great Expectations and Peppers is, is one of my favorite times. I’m not sure if he wants to see a really good film, the one with Richard Burton in it can’t remember when that was. I mean, it’s a black and white film of great expectations. It is a great one. Great. One of the great classics a Sunday afternoon when the rain, when it’s raining outside.
Jonni Moore (00:34:29):
Yes. We have a lot of that recently.
Rachel Errington (00:34:32):
I think it’s 1950s. Great expectations Guinness as well. Isn’t it? Yes.
Peter O’Toole (00:34:38):
As it comes up on the salt marshes, isn’t it? [inaudible] I spent 10 years in [Inaudible], salt marshes on the doorstep, loved it for that reason, with the opening sequence for that. Here’s a quick question, Rachel, what would you prefer a film or a book?
Rachel Errington (00:34:59):
Well, I would probably say a book, but at the moment I change the options because at the moment, my best friend is the radio because you have to use your ears. You don’t have to watch. You don’t have to see a screen. Cause as you know, we’re walls were all screened out at the moment. So the radio has become my, a really good friend of mine. It’s amazing. It is. It’s got real depth of humor and intelligence and up-to-date stuff as well as storyteller. So the radio has already become a big part of my life at the moment.
Peter O’Toole (00:35:37):
And what about yourself? Jonni?
Jonni Moore (00:35:39):
I would say probably film and part of it is because a great sense of guilt and that if I take time to read something, that’s not science. I tend to be guilty because I can never read all the science I should read. And that’s something I never been able to overcome. I don’t read 24 7, but but I feel guilty if I don’t somehow I don’t feel guilty if I’m watching a film much, you know, I it’s officially that.
Peter O’Toole (00:36:16):
Okay. So next one. Film or TV
Rachel Errington (00:36:22):
Jonni Moore (00:36:23):
Know what film i like best, but nowadays it’s I ended up watching and especially after having gone through all this where there was no film to go to. But I virtually never watched TV shows. I only watch film on TV.
Rachel Errington (00:36:40):
Yeah. I don’t watch, I don’t watch TV. I watch films on TV. I don’t watch TV. Yeah. Yeah. Same here.
Peter O’Toole (00:36:48):
You got to have a bit of trash every now and then just to zone out.
Jonni Moore (00:36:52):
Hey, look, I’m a dirty secret I’ll reveal. Is that what I just want to to chill and know that it’s going to be a feel good. I watch hallmark movies. So they’re all we know how they’re all going to end. It’s all going to be happy. The right person will end up with the right person who looks the way you think. So that’s my guilty pleasure.
Rachel Errington (00:37:18):
I think we need that at the moment. That way, because at the moment it’s so unknown. So a good something that no at the end that he’s going to be. I think it’s perfect.
Peter O’Toole (00:37:29):
So what are your favorite films, Rachel?
Rachel Errington (00:37:33):
So my favorite film from what I remember being the first film, I felt really bowled over by. It was Gandy. I remember being a teenager and thinking this, this film has really got me. I am forced to watch star wars movies by all the boys in our family. And they really grown on me because I’m being educated about them. But I, I, I love the great film that I love. Great filmmakers and, and that sort of impactful sort of Gandy was like that it was, it was a huge film. It had, it was a film of scale as well as, as talking about the individual. So I think I still stick to that film as my favorite film. Cause I remember I remember the feeling of coming out to that film and I think that’s when you know that it’s really got you and Jonni.
Jonni Moore (00:38:35):
So I like there there’s three films that I really liked for different reasons, but I particularly like films that are very reflective of the times they’re in that have other aspects. I mean, they’re, they’re a good story, but they have other aspects. And probably I grew up in the south of the United States. So I have a perspective. So Gone with the Wind remains, it was, it’s a huge commentary on, on the time and there’s everything from strong women to comments on slavery, the economic differences between the north and the south and not everybody looks at those. A lot of it’s a very long movie. So they’ll look at the love story, but I could watch that all the time. The other is one of my all time favorites is to Kill a Mockingbird and the original one. And I have not just before everything went kind of haywire, there was a Broadway play that was made of that in my my daughter, I think Jeff Daniels or played the lead in that, but my daughter saw it and thought it was phenomenal of course she had never seen Gregory Peck and that movie. So she went back and saw that and really good. And I will agree with you star wars. My son is a fanatic for star wars. He was born in 1980, close around. I mean, he didn’t see the first one because he was way too young and ultimately did. And I have really grown to like some of the source. There are some of them that I think are very commercial and aren’t keeping with the stories, but I, you know, I think George Lucas is a great filmmaker or was, I don’t know, like say he still is, but he was at a time. So those are the really ones that I really like.
Rachel Errington (00:40:44):
So To Kill a Mockingbird it’s also coming to London. My, myself and my two sisters were going to go and see it and cause the pandemic stop that. So I guess it was coming from Broadway to the west end and we were going to go and see it. So to Kill a Mockingbird is definitely a must
Jonni Moore (00:41:01):
We’ll, we will all have a chance to see these things sometimes. Okay,
Rachel Errington (00:41:06):
Thank you for this experience because I now realize I’ve got more in common with Jonni, other than cytometry, like the same films
Peter O’Toole (00:41:16):
Moving through Rachel, this is something you sent through to me. So what is this picture of,
Rachel Errington (00:41:20):
This is my tribe. This is fundamentally my group of my people as I call it. So I have two sisters they’re standing behind me I’m in the middle and their children and our husbands. And this is really the group that really, when I’m feeling low, feeling high, cleaning anything, this is the people I go to, to, to, to share were sitting on I dog, which is a big piece of Oak and in the New Forest. And as you know, New Forest Oak was used to build the Mary Rose, which is a Henry, the eighth that got sunk in the Solent , fighting with France and all of that. And so we my mother is from the New Forest and we were there to celebrate her life. But more importantly, the Mary Rose is a project that’s in the family. So my father was part of raising the Mary Rose and he was part of the that supplied, the compressed air that supplied that to raise the Mary Rose. If you remember, it was coming up in the UK, wasn’t it was a big thing, the big thing. And and so it’s very special place for us, the New Forrest and and so we were there too. So I think it says to me, it says, cause it’s all about context, it’s all images. It’s not just the people in it. It’s, it’s where you’ve taken it. And that has a lot of context in terms of the sitting on a piece of Oak that was part of the supply for the building the Mary Rose And so that sort of means all together for you.
Peter O’Toole (00:43:05):
That’s super cool. That’s really nice. So looking on the light, we’ve talked about some quite serious stuff so far. Yeah. Let’s lighten it up. Actually. I’ll go. I’ve got to chat. I’m going to put it. I don’t know. We try and go. Maybe think now I think it’s really important. You both reached the pinnacle of your careers. Yeah. You both come up for presidency coming up to got, presidency of ISAC. You’re both in very high positions within your institutes or universities at the moment, but it’s never plain sailing. Can you think of what maybe is your most challenging moment of your career to date? I’ll start with Rachel on that one.
Rachel Errington (00:43:45):
So I think it’s it’s really taking it, taking advice and finding the right champions at the same time as ignoring other people’s opinions. And in the end, you can only put a pathway together that is your pathway because life hit hits you at the same time as building building your career. So I think it’s really keeping true to yourself and sometimes that’s difficult and really trying to being sharp and thinking about things ahead. But also being able to adapt. And I think that’s really important and not feeling burdened by what should be happening, what possibly might, what, what others think should be happening to you at certain times, I’m really looking at, you know, your career pathway is a marathon, not a sprint. And I think he needs weave your way through it and make sure you look after what’s important along the way. Um and for me that has been sometimes stepping away from my science and thinking about elements of my family that’s needed my attention and not feeling guilty about that. But also knowing that, you know, I can, I can weave these things back together again when this really taking the challenge of weaving life outside life with scientific life. I think now that I’m have a status or responsibility, it’s really thinking about how we can change things and attitudes on the ground of saying it’s okay to have other priorities that isn’t a four-star paper that isn’t writing your grants. It is okay at times for you to not think that that’s the most important thing, and that’s not why you’re coming to work. It’s okay to feel like that. It’s important to tell people that and that, and that that’s, that’s okay to be able to communicate that. And I think if we can have that supportive environment, I think we will do much better. We will keep our talents. We will nurture our talent and the talent will rise to the top. I suspect that’s not always happening because we are not, we’re not, we’re not looking after all of the aspects of being a person doing science.
Peter O’Toole (00:46:07):
I think that’s Sage advice. Jonni most challenging.
Jonni Moore (00:46:11):
So I think to have a particular time, I think Rachel alluded to it. It’s perhaps being initially being a woman and a technology field that didn’t have very many women. I, you may not realize, but this time ISAC with me as president Rachel, as president elect Jessica Houston as treasurer and Kylie Price as secretary is the first time in the history of ISAC that all four officers have been women. And I am the first woman president in 15 years and only one of four total. So the process associated with that may was very early on. I, I found it difficult to balance family life because I didn’t feel like I had that freedom to do it, that if I wanted to be a success, I mentioned I had a son in graduate school when I, my second year of graduate school. So I, I really struggled with that in the early times of not being there for things for them, for activities at school or various things of that sort. Do you feel guilty? Absolutely guilty. You feel guilty and that, that, that you, it’s not that you don’t want to do that, but you early on didn’t see that there was any other path because it was still looking in an institution where I am on an Ivy league institution. If I looked up the ladder, I didn’t see me. There was nobody that looked like me, either a woman or a woman who had a family and didn’t hide it. I never hid it, but I found some very good champions along the way, who by the way happened, most of them happened to be men, but that’s because there weren’t too many women to do that, but they were great. And you know, you’ve overcome this when your Dean tells you on a phone call in June, Jonni I know you’ll be able to handle this because you’re a force to be reckoned with. So like, like as I responded to him was, and don’t you forget it, but, but the point is I think that exactly what Rachel said, one of the things that all of us have a responsibility for is it doesn’t have to be that way to let our a up and coming leaders and the young people entering the field and say, it’s important. You need to come forward and say, I need to do this. I need this help. And I think if anything the lockdowns that we’ve had, where everyone was forced to take time away, realizes anything could happen anytime to anybody and we can adjust. It doesn’t mean your life is over. Your professional life is over. And I think we, if we take anything away from what we’ve experienced in the past six months, that’s what we should take away and really work with people that have priorities in the right place. Uh you know, I had one tech who had a lot of family responsibilities and he, you know, a lot, we had a lot of 12 hour experiments. He’d frequently started 8pm, but that was his choice to do that. It didn’t matter. I mean, he could do it whenever he wanted, but being a lot more flexible. And that’s what I’ve come in right now. The whole childcare impact because of virtual schooling that we’re doing here is really impacting our postdocs, our techs, and our young faculty. They can’t come back full time because they have to be home not only to babysit their children, but to teach their children easily,
Peter O’Toole (00:50:45):
Even without COVID. If the system still right, how have we come on? Oh, no,
Rachel Errington (00:50:54):
We’re much. We’re in a much better place. But I mean, science is a team effort, right? Team science, like this is what it’s about. It’s not about the individual. So I think what you have to do is you have to, as part of a team, you can compensate for strengths and weaknesses and you can deliver, you can deliver really high quality science, impactful science in it using thing. But the problem is that still the metrics and the rewards is based on the individual, right? So those two things don’t match up yet. It’s getting better, but it’s not bad yet. You’re you’re, you are, you are promoted and metric based on your individual performance. But actually the multidisciplinary that we’ve talked about right at the start is team effort. And once you’re working in a team, you can compensate for the fact that life happens to individuals and you can build some redundancy into things or of that system and deliver a really high quality, excellent science for working, working as a team. I love working with the team. I mean, so much more fun than working as an individual and share and sharing the glories. And I’m the angry, upset when things don’t work out how you think they should be working out. So I think, I think that so team science to me is a solution to many things, but until you recognize that working in the team and that teams are important, you’re still going to always get those conflicts. And you know, if you’re going to demand somebody to work 60, 65 hours a week in order, because that is the norm of being a good scientist, you’re just going to lose your going to lose raw talent.
Peter O’Toole (00:52:34):
And I think you mentioned, I’ve heard, you mentioned in the past, Rachel, about careers, don’t have to be at a hundred miles an hour all the time. They can take a period of sort of slowing so you can have some family life and then going back up again. I
Rachel Errington (00:52:50):
Think it makes you better scientists as well, because it’s great to be a good scientist. You have to be aware of the world, aware of the challenges. And you have to, you have to be also looking after your family and looking after. And when you get into that place of senority, you’re looking out for other people’s families as well. So I think you have, I think it is about pacing. It’s about understanding when you have to put that extra, extra effort and extra time, but it isn’t extra. It’s just part of what you’re doing in order to get yourself and to the science funded and delivered in a way that really works. You know, I’ve been a caregiver for the last for 30 years. And there were times when I had to step away people rolling their eyes saying, well, forget it, forget it. You’re never going to do. You’re never going to get to the next stage. We’ll never be, we’ll never be asked again to give a keynote at this meeting because you see, you say, you can’t go to that meeting because you’ve got a family commitment and it’s, and it’s just like, well tough beans because I cannot come today or next week, because I’ve got other priorities and that, so okay these, you know, you learn now that actually it’s okay to make those decisions. And it’s the right decisions because I’m sitting here knowing I’ve made the right decisions along the way.
Peter O’Toole (00:54:11):
There’s a good message for everyone there, no matter what gender or bias you are of anything is to always understand from the other person’s perspective and have that tolerance and understanding to enable people to, to balance their lives. And there can be big things going on in people’s personal lives, which will never be privy to. And you have to understand that that could be happening. Always, just don’t knee jerk. Yeah.
Rachel Errington (00:54:36):
Don’t judge, right. Don’t judge. Why is Peter not here? This, yeah. Why haven’t I seen a [Inaudible]? Why haven’t I seen a Paper? Just don’t
Peter O’Toole (00:54:45):
Don’t do it. I thinking in teamwork, you also have an interest in football. Yes. This is
Rachel Errington (00:54:52):
Brentford football club, the bees, hence you see the symbol of a bees, the bees come on the bees. And this is a West London football club and it is the club that my father always supported because the other thing that you learn is that your tribe does direct a lot of how you behave. And so I’ve always supported Brentford. I will always support Brentford because the memories of sitting down, watching Brentford or phoning my dad on a Sunday and saying, did you see the results from yesterday? You know, they did well, they did badly, et cetera. It’s, it’s, it’s part of my DNA. This is my conversations about Brentford. I’ve lived in Wales for 25 years coming up to 25 years. And I think the bees play Cardiff. And I know the Cardiff team very well. I mean, I mean into my football, I know, I know my football. Um and I know the Cardiff team really well, but I cannot support Cardiff. I could go to every match and I love football. I love watching watching football, but I can’t go and support Cardiff. It would be the sensible thing to do cause they’re on my doorstep because they, my connection is not just the football, but the people who on connected to and watching it with it’s the same with Wales versus England. I know both teams really well, but I cannot put on a Welsh shirt. I love Wales. It’s been part of my, my, my life for a very long time, but I can’t put on a Welsh shirt because England was the team that my father and I would always sit down and support. And so you just can’t overcome that. And it’s, so that’s the other tribal nature of supporting it too. A couple
Peter O’Toole (00:56:35):
Of good seasons. You’ve you’ve had quite a lot of phone calls, guys. You, my dad, after every match has a quick call and go, let’s not talk about it and phone back down. Well,
Rachel Errington (00:56:43):
That’s the other thing. So the very depressing part of really good season Brentfords nearly got promoted, we buckled it. And that’s very disappointing, but now ultimately we’re back to square one season. I’ll support them.
Peter O’Toole (00:57:03):
More excite in that way. So it’s a football Jonni you also support what is supposedly a football. It’s not real football though, is it? Yeah, we’ve got a fake for American football is not football.
Jonni Moore (00:57:16):
You know, we can do about that. So the Philadelphia Eagles, so I grew up in Virginia. We did not have a football team. We had the Washington now called the Washington football team, but they were called the Washington Redskins at the time was the closest we had for Washington DC. But I was in high school, a cheerleader for five years. So I was very much involved in sports. So really I, I can relate a little bit to what Rachel said about the memory. So neither my parents were not sports fans. My husband and my son are definitely not sports fans. My daughter is a crazy sports fan, so she and I have gone to football games since she was in middle school. So we’ve gone to Eagles games and we’ve been crazy Eagles fan and painted green stuff on her face and all of that. But it’s a lot of memories of that. And yes, she could not have married someone who was not an Eagles football fan. So she did. And my son-in-law is equally a rabid Eagles fan as are my four year old and six year old grandchildren. So we come any Sunday, you’re going to hear us talk. And yes, our team is not doing too well now. They lost the first two. So we do like Rachel then commiserate all that looked pretty bad this time. But, but that is definitely something that is a, a unifier in a lot of ways. And it does bring you, you know, the family memories at all, so yep. Go Eagles.
Rachel Errington (00:59:08):
So, so the other things for me, I was a teenager in the states. I went to school in New Jersey and girls in the state play soccer. Yeah. So that’s where I also got my bug for football was the fact that I actually played, you know, instead of cheerleading, the boys thing that playing football, I would go and play soccer. And and you could do really well. So I played in all the school teams. I came back to the UK, where girls are not playing soccer or football. They are now, but they weren’t then. and, and I played football when I, when I came back and played at Cardiff university as well. So, you know, so the United States I run, it gave me, gave me the football and skills to actually play football because I was a teenager in the state.
Peter O’Toole (00:59:58):
So, so Jonni, Rachel or the microscopy meeting, there is a pre Congress football match soccer match. I’ll, I’ll translate for you, there Jonni soccer for where it’s actually the, the core facilities managers has take on the commercial groups and the commercial lead. And it’s very much mixed gender on the pitch has to be in good spirits that you should bring that to ISAC surely.
Jonni Moore (01:00:30):
Well, if we have face-to-face meeting in 2022, which we’re hoping we’ll have, which will be Philadelphia would have been Philadelphia. Now I can probably wangle the, the university of Pennsylvania’s field. And that would be a great thing to do. I think it would be lots of fun and to do that, yeah, I’m a winger and I will be the cheerleader. We’ll have to take some of the Rachel Rachel could actually play, but I’ll be the cheerleader.
Peter O’Toole (01:01:10):
It’s a good ice breaker. I liked the fact that it tastes from the facility side against the commercial side, because I think it breaks down some, there are perceptive barriers between the dark side, as some people would call it and the academic side. Actually there is no difference come from our background and just chose a different career path where their skills are really needed, and we need the companies to have those skills inside them. So I think, I think those informal networking things are terrific for both sides and it is all companies come together. And even for them, some of them wouldn’t talk together very often and actually the great sport it brings sports. Then it’s really, there you go. There’s an idea for, for something to work out in the future, thinking of light entertainment, can you tell, well, it’s always a revealing question. You can always think of some of the darkest moments in the lab, but usually I don’t, I always think it’s some of the funniest moments I’ve encountered in the lab. So I’ll start with you this time, Jonni, cause I give Rachel time to think on this one. What has been the funniest moment you’ve seen in the lab or in the workplace, whether it be conference or lab wherever well
Jonni Moore (01:02:27):
In the lab. So my lab group, I’ve been very lucky. Most of the people that work for me, my senior people have been with me 15 plus years. I actually have three people who worked for me for about 10 years left and went to biotech for 10 or 15 years, but came back in the past four years. So believe me, there is a pay differential, but they just like being here. So we always used to dress up for Halloween. So this is a group, not all of my lab by lab, decided to dress up one year for Halloween as me. So they all got blonde wig. So the sword, and it didn’t matter their gender race, they were all me and I came into work and they were all like that. There’s another one that I didn’t send you that there was from Becton Dickinson years ago, w they had where they developed an instrument that had was a Vax van Antia and it had a diva software, but it also had something called an automatic sampling system ASS So they all again dressed up like me, but then put a sign on their behind that said diva with a dash and said, we just bought that. So so that was good. But on a national level, there was an ISAC in San Diego not the most recent one but years ago. And the funniest thing was several leading members of ISAC putting on a show as the village people doing, YMCA totally dressed up like the village people? And it, that was really great. That’s one of the things I absolutely love about this field is that people we’re not only colleagues, but we can be friends and we can interact. And maybe you’ll only see these people once a year, if that, and it’s very interactive. And one of the things you mentioned about a commercial is the synergy that’s always been between the commercial side and the academic side. I have never seen in any other discipline. My husband is a physician, the pharmaceutical companies don’t have the same relationships with the physicians as we do. We are, we need each other, we build each other. And I think having that kind of thing where that’s why I think the, the football game would be a great thing. And while we’re trying to do more in that area, so that is you know, we’re a community and both sides of the community and thinking about what’s going to happen in ISAC going forward. That’s something I think both Rachel and I are committed to is involving our corporate partners at a lot of levels. We have many of them or several of them we’ve been asking to be on committees and a lot more involved than we have. And because you can’t live without us and we can’t live without you
Peter O’Toole (01:06:08):
Very much. So. Rachel, what about you or funniest moment in the lab, but now this is going to be interesting. Jonni just disappear when she comes back, we’ll be gone.
Rachel Errington (01:06:26):
Sorry. I just realized, but so I did find him say, ah, that’s so funny guys. I know to say that I live by the say and just people this afternoon, it’s been a beautiful day and I use my binoculars and they are Ziess binoculars. And I won these in a row in a microscopy meeting, which was micro90 right. That was my first microscopy meeting. My first paper that I gave and I put my name, they said, sign the card. You know, they say sign the back of the card, put it in. And I got, I messaged to say that I had actually won the binoculars and they were on their way. Right. And so so I was waiting for them and then they arrived and lab technician Barry Martin, I remember him well, and he taught me lots of things about being in a lab. And he said, you’re parcel has arrived, I think it might be the binoculars that you won. This is great. So I unwrapped them and there’s this great big box and I’m not. And in that were two eye pieces from a microscope, which was sellotaped together. Right. And I pooped them out and I had unwrapped everything as if it was new. I mean, it didn’t know it hadn’t been tampered with at all this book. I like talking about, these are two eye pieces. I haven’t won two eye pieces have I?. The whole lab just fell around laughing because of course they had, no, this is what you won. So I realized that, that you had to, to survive in this lab. I really well, you really have to raise your game in of the pranks that you had to apply. And so that, that was, that was my initiation. So doing primes really well, well,
Peter O’Toole (01:08:23):
Are there fewer pranks now in labs? And they used to be, yeah, very boring.
Jonni Moore (01:08:35):
And like we said earlier, the the pressure to succeed, which we really, you know, people tried to balance things. So is
Peter O’Toole (01:08:47):
It the fear of doing vulgar or upsetting or offending someone? I think that
Jonni Moore (01:08:51):
Might be, we’re going to get to that as well. Man. We live in an environment where, where people, you know, I, I hate to use the often used term of political correctness, but I think because the problem with this is because there are really truly issues within academia and labs of inclusion and diversity so that, you know, they, and they’re more, I won’t say they’re more important now than they used to be, but people are very aware of them now for right. Rightly so. So it’s, it’s harder to not think of those things and, and to to do the usual light hearted jokes that we do, we still find time. And you know, the, the picture that you deleted is me in a witch hat. Again, I said, Halloween, we still have our Halloween issues. And we still do it. And I had a big black mole on my nose and all of that. And I, I used to wear my witch hat whenever I would, we would have lab meetings. And when I was going to be a witch or another term that rhymes with that, that my lab would say but I think, you know, we are in plus right now. I think this whole epidemic is going to change things for a while because it’s almost like people feel like, well, life is so serious. There’s so many problems happening that we, we shouldn’t be joking around so much. I mean, everything’s so serious. And plus the fact was social distancing. You know, I come in my lab, I’ve got 12 people in the lab. I don’t see them. Everybody’s in different places because they’re separated or come in at different shifts.
Peter O’Toole (01:10:58):
Yeah. I think we got more serious before that though. You
Rachel Errington (01:11:06):
Have to be mindful. You have to be aware of who who’s everybody around you, et cetera. I mean, I’m starting to sound like a director, but, but you can still have fun. Yeah. That’s critical. And on essential part of doing science is that fun element. So but you know, a prank here and there I don’t think
Jonni Moore (01:11:31):
Part of being a team
Peter O’Toole (01:11:33):
We are over the one hour mark somehow. So it’s been brilliant, but I’ve got to ask just one last question. It’s going to be really short answers. I realize time is up. What’s the next big challenge. What’s the unmet need. What’s the next development that’s needed. That’s a really long answer. I know that could come out of this, but it’s short, sharp. What do we need to solve next? And Hey, Rachel, would you first say I,
Rachel Errington (01:12:02):
Yeah, so I think I think it’s, it’s putting together the systems thinking on, on, on putting our insights together and how we really understand what the system, how the system works. So that’s an intellectual way, or, and the technology’s not already about, about the science, about, about the, the the maths and the, the the engineering of systems and how the information is brought together there. So I think it’s it’s working from, from my perspective is working with our physical scientist, understand biology, I think intellectually, that’s what we have to be doingu and Jonni
Jonni Moore (01:12:56):
Totally agree. I think we’re at is where we have tremendous technology. We’ve identified a lots of names. We’ve talked about. Initially we called it personalized medicine. Now we talk about precision medicine. We can do precision medicine. We know how to do that. We can take what we have, but getting it from the lab to the patient, as we said before, is going to take this type of interaction, these teams with our physical scientists our computational scientists. And that’s what we have to do. It, we’re not at a loss for having the technology. We’ve got it. We just need to know how to deploy it. And that’s where I see our future.
Peter O’Toole (01:13:39):
I think you’re both seeing So you’ve got a lot in common. I’ve got a load, more questions I wanted to ask, but it’s got all sorts of directions, which I think has been great. Jonni. Thank you, Rachel. Thank you. You’ve been great to talk to and ISAC, thank you.