ApconiX Welcomes Isabelle Heys

Isabelle Heys | ApconiX | Industry Placement Student

ApconiX is delighted to welcome Isabelle Heys (she/they) who joins the ion channel laboratory team as an industry placement student and will be working with Dr Michael Morton and Dr Kimberly Rockley for the next 12 months.


Isabelle is a second year student at Newcastle University studying for a BSc in Biochemistry.  Interestingly all of Newcastle’s Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences degrees are divided into two phases with the first year modules shared by all degrees, providing a broad introduction to biomolecular sciences.  The second and third year modules are specialist related topics.  Isabelle started a Pharmacology degree but found the Biochemistry modules of greatest interest.

Originally in her first year of A Levels, Isabelle was studying biology, chemistry and music but Newcastle wouldn’t accept that combination, so she had to study Maths in a year.  Fond of Maths but having to work hard at it, Isabelle was very pleased to successfully make the switch and be able to study where she wanted to.

She always wanted to do an industry placement and specifically applied to a degree course which would make that possible.  Enjoying laboratory work, Isabelle gained experience as a summer intern at Newcastle University carrying out primary research on ESRP1 alternative splicing in breast cancer and the effect of tamoxifen on cellular location, funded by the British Society of Cell Biology. Previously they worked as a laboratory assistant in an mRNA research laboratory at the University.  During the summer of last year, Isabelle spent time shadowing different departments at the Warrington Teaching Hospital including Pharmacy, Dietetics and Pathology.

Working at ApconiX

Isabelle applied for the Industry Placement year at ApconiX after seeing the vacancy advertised on the University website.  Keen to gain more experience in the laboratory, she is very interested in protein science, the seizure work and growing stem cells.  Coupled with an interest in drug development, the placement seemed ideal for them.

The overall aim of Isabelle’s project is to demonstrate the specific differences that exist between rodent and human seizurogenic responses with a particular focus on ion channels and a combination of bioinformatics and electrophysiological techniques.  Isabelle will be using microelectrode array (MEA) to assess the electrical activity of human neuronal stem cells and primary rat cortical neurons against a panel of known seizuorogenic drugs. Compounds that target ion channels of interest in both species will be used to identify the effects of modulating ion channels at the network level.

Dr Michael Morton, Director and Co-founder of ApconiX commented, “We have found having industry placement students very rewarding.  Just watching them grow as scientists and the students themselves seem to get a great deal from the experience.  Isabelle has settled in well and after a short period of learning various techniques and some literature research, will be starting her project in the New Year.”

Interests Outside Work

Isabelle is planning to travel after she finishes her BSc. They are looking forward to not having to sit any more exams! Isabelle likes reading, playing the guitar and crocheting and has just received her first commission – to crochet a spider’s web jumper.